The administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu clearly understands the key role education can play in transforming the society. This explains the decision of the administration to make education a foremost part of its T.H.E.M.E.S (acronyms for Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21ST Economy, Entertainment and Tourism and Governance and Security) Developmental Agenda.
The increase in budgetary allocation for education, no doubt, signifies the intention of the Sanwo-Olu led government to use education as a most effective channel to drive its ‘Greater Lagos’ vision.
Therefore, the pursuit of developing an educational system that is able to think critically, innovate and provide solutions towards a more sustainable pattern of living have become a noticeable part of the administration’s agenda.
To begin with, the academic setting in the State is witnessing a dramatic change in terms of personnel and infrastructure. The State’s BOS Education Transformation Plan (BOSETP) is an evolving initiative that is building networks and encouraging partnership with different sectors to provide an enduring and sustainable education in the State.
In setting the stage for this transformation, Governor Sanwo-Olu inaugurated a special committee on Rehabilitation of Public Schools (SCRPS) with the mandate to ensure that all public schools are conducive for learning. Progress has been recorded in the intervention programme, as over 450 schools have got a significant face-lift, while new blocks of classrooms are being built in rural communities.
One noticeable dimension to the public schools’ infrastructure renewal drive is the security angle. Thus, the Security lmprovement Programme (SlP) was introduced in the State’s public schools, especially the model colleges and the boarding schools.
An integral part of the SIP is the construction of Watch Towers and fences with flood light and panic bells. Some of the beneficiary schools of the SIP scheme include Epe Grammar School, Epe, Badagry Grammar School, Badagry, Oriwu College, Ikorodu, Lagos State Model College, Ojo, Lagos State Civil Service Model College, lgbogbo, Ikorodu, Lagos State Model College, Agunfoye, Ikorodu and the Lagos State Model College, Igbokuta, Ikorodu. The idea is to boost security in the schools and protect lives.
The good thing is that the Sanwo-Olu administration is not only addressing the infrastructure deficit in the State’s public schools, it is also ensuring that the schools are well-furnished. Consequently, fabrication and supply of dual single composite student benches and tables with underneath compartments for books and bag storage are being supplied to virtually all the public schools, especially those with glaring cases of inadequate furniture.
The furniture design was adopted to improve learning conditions and comfort for the students. Presently, about 203,190 units of dual single composite student benches and tables are being supplied to the public secondary schools, while about 105,000 units have also been produced for the primary schools in phase one of the scheme.
Currently, construction is ongoing in the State’s public schools with projects ranging from 100 classroom blocks, 120 classrooms to 180 classroom blocks. All these efforts are geared towards reducing the students’ classroom ratio in the public schools and also to make teaching and learning easier.
Other schools where learning infrastructure have been upgraded include Ojota Junior Grammar School, Muslim Senior College, Oworonshoki, Eva Adelaja Memorial Girls Grammar School, Somolu, Lagos State Model College Badore, Model College, Igbokuta and Model College, Oriokuta.
Others are Model College, Ojo, Model College, Oriwu, Model College, Agunfoye, Ikorodu, Civil Service Model College, Ikorodu, Model College, Meiran, Akintan Junior Grammar School, Surulere, Elemoro Junior Secondary School, Ibeju-Lekki, Oke Odo Junior High School, Ebute-Metta, FESTAC Junior Grammar School, Amuwo-Odofin, Badagry Junior Grammar School, Badagry, Araromi-Ilogbo Junior Secondary School, Oko-Afo, St. Joseph Secondary School, Mushin and Ajumoni Junior Grammar School, Mushin amongst others.
The investment of the administration in up-scaling infrastructure has resulted into the commissioning of completed projects such as 18 Classroom Blocks at Muslim Junior College, Egbe, 18 Classroom Blocks at Maya Secondary School, Ikorodu, 18 Classroom Blocks at Eva Adelaja Junior Secondary School, Bariga, and Block of 20 Classrooms at Bashua Military School Primary School, Shomolu.
Others are 13 Classrooms at Saviour Primary School, Ifako-Ijaiye LGA, Block of 20 Classrooms at Ayanleye Memorial Primary School, Ifako-Ijaiye LGA and Block of 6 Classrooms at Ansar Ur Deen, Ibonwon, Epe.
More than ever before, renewal of public schools’ infrastructure has dominated the government’s priority in the education sector. With over 1,000 public primary schools and more than 700 government-owned secondary schools in the State, the government, no doubt, has its hands full.
But then, the current administration has clearly shown that it has what it takes to take up the daunting challenge of improving infrastructure in public Schools across the State. Today, the narrative is changing as many projects are at various stages of completion, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19.
To ensure the public schools are well-maintained, the government is co opting the Head Teachers and Principals of primary and secondary schools respectively to take responsibilities for proper maintenance.
Therefore, the Lagos State Infrastructure Asset Management Agency (LASIAMA) is working with other relevant government agencies to ensure existing and new infrastructure in the public schools are being properly maintained.
It is worthy of note that LASIAMA has also carried out major and minor rehabilitation on a total of 53 Junior and Secondary Schools and with the approval of Mr. Governor it is deploying a sustainable maintenance framework for schools.
The contribution of the rehabilitation programme to the socio-economic outlook of the state is huge. Universally, the construction industry works in a cycle and it helps the GDP of any country. Really, the schools rehabilitation project goes beyond mere uplifting the structure of public schools in the State. It has become a veritable source of employment for many who earn a living through working at the construction sites.
Conservatively put, a total number of 18,000 people are directly involved in the project, both directly and indirectly. And as the government continues to expand the scope of the programme, more hands are being employed.
It is a value-chain. Construction creates micro and mini forms of employment for the people. There is a cycle of economic activities that go on at construction sites.
Due to Lagos’ geographical location and its population, it may be a bit difficult to have playing grounds in all the public schools, as there is little or no space to explore this. However, the government is also working on a few legacy projects.
For instance, there is a modular construction being done, which is called the interactive screen. This was birthed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and it is meant to ensure that ICT becomes an integral part of these schools.
In the words of former South African President, Nelson Mandela, “the power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It is, thus, in order to properly leverage on the power of education that the Sanwo-Olu administration is overhauling public schools infrastructure in Lagos State.
Ogunbiyi is Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Information and strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.