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Themes agenda: Actualizing the 21st century skills for education transformation in Lagos State

It has been one year since Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu began to hold the baton of leadership in Lagos State with the six pillars of development as its mandate for a greater Lagos. The third pillar representing Education and Technology, has since its inception transformed to be a model of admiration to many as the Sanwo-Olu administration placed high premium on Education and Technology as veritable tools to drive the 21st century economy of the State.

With the vision to become a model of Excellence in the development of Education in Africa by providing high quality education accessible to all learners, through effective and efficient management of resources for the attainment of self-reliance and socio-economic development, the Sanwo-Olu led administration has continue to raise the bar with strategic measures and transformation plan for the success of the sector. The administration with the passion for learning, schools transformation and capacity building for teachers has been further driven with the new trends towards engendering quality education that will be at par with the 21st century standard of learning.

The State Government with its trail blazing agenda has resolved to restructure the Education sector by ensuring that the teaching and learning methods in the schools are improved state-wide. The challenges the sector is faced with, were unquantifiable at the inception of the administration and proffering solution to these multi-faceted challenges required the laying of formidable foundations to achieve laudable feats in the quest for positive changes and the resolve to surmount these challenges.

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To begin with, the Ministry of Education was allocated N133.5 billion naira (One Hundred and Thirty Three Billion, Five Million Naira) only in the Year 2020 approved budget; this represented a growth of 137% increase year on year which in turn meant government’s readiness to move the sector forward.

Under the Ministry of Education are offices and agencies also collaborating with the building of the vision for Education: these are the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board, (LASTVEB) Office of Education Quality Assurance (OEQA), Lagos State Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), Lagos State Examination Board and the six Education districts.

There have been major achievements by the Sanwo-Olu administration this past year in the area of Education Transformation Plan, Infrastructure, Basic Education, Teacher’s Recruitment, Home Grown School Feeding Programme, School Curriculum, Teacher’s Capacity Trainings, State Tertiary Institutions, E-Learning and Teaching in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

CONSTRUCTION AND UPGRADE OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS INFRASTRUCTURE

In the period under review, 54 classrooms were completed in secondary schools and 60 worst infrastructure schools were rehabilitated by the Ministry of Education and Lagos State Infrastructure Asset Management Agency (LASIAMA). The Ministry also delivered 60,000 tables and chairs to schools while 92 classrooms were officially handed over to public primary schools. To ensure the schools building are maintained, LASIAMA established a school maintenance plan and designated Facility Managers to each school. Some of the beneficiaries of these schools infrastructures are; Eva Adelaja Junior High school, Bariga; Maya Senior Grammar school, Ikorodu; Egbe Junior College, Egbe; Ayanleye Primary School, Ifako Ijaye; Oladele Alake Primary School, Ejigbo; Saviour Primary School, Ifako Ijaye; Ikotun Primary School, Ikotun; Bashua Military Primary School Shomolu and Ansar Ud Deen Primary School, Epe.

IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF PRIMARY EDUCATION

The slogan, “Leave No Child Behind” became prominent with the advent of the Eko Excel Initiative, a transformation initiative of the incumbent administration. Eko-Excel; an acronym for “Excellence in Child Education and Learning” which was rolled out in phases is planned to help 14,000 Head Teachers and students embrace digital teaching, using tablets and updated curriculum in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 4, the National Policy on Education, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Act 2004 and SUBEB Law 2006, to aid in achieving an all-inclusive, Quality Universal Basic Education. As we speak, over 4,000 primary school teachers from 300 public primary schools have been captured under the Pilot Scheme with each of them given a tablet to work with.

The programme equipped teachers with skills to deliver value, empower pupils with requisite knowledge to improve education and help in sustaining the growth of Lagos State as a leading knowledge driven city and economy in the world.

Apart from the technological advantage of Eko-Excel, the initiative provides a multi-dimensional approach to learning, which includes character moulding of pupils from their formative stage. To do this, Character Boards were placed in all public schools. The Board being used to display the names of well-behaved and outstanding pupils in order to celebrate them with the intention of making other pupils aspire to have their names written for good conduct and subsequently get celebrated in a healthy competitive atmosphere.

The Covid-19 pandemic became a stark reality such that the earlier paradigm shift to integrate technology into the Schools’ curriculum was apt, as the Pandemic was not envisaged. These current realities further heightened the State government resolve and commitment to innovatively use media technology to push the quality of education to a world class standard while making learning outcomes accessible with the background knowledge that Education remains a critical success factor for the socio-economic development of an economic hub.

To continuously build capacity of teachers, 18,000 secondary school teachers have been trained in digital literacy by Microsoft Office, an additional 2,500 secondary schools teachers have been trained in Scenario Planning based on Remote Learning, Teaching and classroom coordination. These are post Covid-19 measures connoting preparedness and safety precautions when schools are finally re-opened. Aside, seminars, webinars, sensitization workshops and stakeholders’ workshops are continuous for teachers across the State.

While revamping the sector, there was improvement in capacity and welfare of schools personnel as N7.8million naira was disbursed to School teachers as Car Refurbishment loans and N3 million disbursed as housing loans. Other incentives to further encourage teachers are awards for Best Teacher and apartments for Best Teacher and Best School Administrator. The Ministry also recruited 2000 primary school teachers and 1000 secondary school teachers to complement the existing team and the newly engaged were given adequate trainings before joining the workforce.

To leverage Public-Private Partnership for a grand impact, the Ministry of Education organized the 2020 Public-Private partnership (PPP) – Dialogue aimed at accruing collaboration towards improved quality education in the State and also implemented the government Transformation Plan for Education focusing on 15 areas in the sector for partnership by stakeholders. This partnership has begun to yield positively as First Bank PLC donated 20,000 e- learning devices; Edfin Micro Finance Bank donated 100 e-learning devices to teachers while MTN Nigeria provided 6 months internet support for students among others. The low-end devices have been preloaded with the Ministry of Education accredited Curriculum and are designed to work offline making it efficient and suitable for students’ learning processes. The offline option removes the snag of data consumption

With the incursion and the ‘new normal’ that the Covid-19 pandemic entrenched in its wake, leading to Schools closure, these stakeholder’s donations have come in handy. Also with the emergence of the pandemic, ensuring the safety of students and the need to stem the tide of the infection became crucial. The Ministry hitherto organized electronic learning and teaching platforms through Radio, Television and the internet to continuously engage the students. Moreover, across the 976 Public Primary Schools in the state, the Ministry through the Home Grown School Feeding Programme fed 135,445 pupils daily.

The school Curriculum which plays an important role in learning outcomes was reviewed and integrated with 21st century skills in the State schemes of work while the 2020 major Book is on-going. The Distance Learning Approach is also currently being integrated.

The Ministry is leaving no stone unturned as it has improved on the capacity and welfare of students, the results of these can easily be gauged in their performances and emergence as champions in competitions locally and internationally. In the finals of the national Robot Olympiad in September 2019 held at Edutus, Gyor Hungary, the State emerged 2nd, 3rd & 4th respectively, while the State Contingent received 11 trophies and 14 medals in 2020 National Junior Engineers technicians and Scientist (JETS) competition to mention but a few.

Today, State government’s vocational centres are better equipped as Office equipment, consumables (Arts and Crafts materials), Generator, fridge and sewing machines have also been delivered. Two new buses have been provided for monitoring primary schools.

To improve the efficacy of the Office of Education Quality Assurance, a grading instrument was instituted for evaluating the standard of education in schools -a revamping of guidelines for establishing, operating and sustaining a school and increased Private School Registration above 100% year on year. The Office has since launched the read Aloud Programme for Basic School Students in the State.

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