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Stakeholders seek extension of DFID-DEEPEN programme

 Photo credit- Leadership newspaper


Stakeholders in the educational sector in the South-East/South-South regions of Nigeria have appealed to the Department for International Development (DFID), a UK-sponsored agency, to extend the duration of its Developing Effective Private Education Nigeria (DEEPEN) programme beyond August 2018.


DEEPEN programme is focused on improving learning outcomes in private schools, especially for children from low-income households in Lagos.
The fund provided the Lagos low cost private school (LCPS)-focused service providers with an opportunity to support unconventional solutions, to longstanding problems in the private education sector in Lagos, through the ingenuity of private enterprise.
It also provided an opportunity to fund ambitious innovations, designed by Lagos’ private schools’ proprietors, service providers and other entrepreneurs.
The aim was to scale up ongoing and emerging pilots, boost market linkages in hitherto unconnected market segments, and highlight opportunities that might not have been noticed, if not supported externally.
The stakeholders at a dissemination event, organised by DEEPEN in Owerri, the Imo State capital, observed that the extension of the programme would enable other states in the country, especially in the two-regions, to benefit from the programme and improve educational services in the states, as witnessed in Lagos.
James Oke, director of planning, Enugu State Economic Planning Commission, described the DEEPEN programme as interesting, enriching and rewarding, stressing that it was something that should be casketed to other states, so that they could improve their educational services and quality.
He explained that Enugu State has more private schools than public schools, a development he attributed to the enabling environment provided by the State Government for the investors to operate.
According to him, “If you don’t have that they cannot out number public schools. What we are saying is, if we can take something from this meeting, we can improve on what is on-ground in our various State’s and that is the bottom line.
For Orji Kanu Emmanuel, national secretary, Association for Formidable Educational Development, a major partner with DFID -DEEPEN programme, the impact of DEEPEN had changed the entire business environment for school owners, especially low cost, because there were certain things very important that government regulators were not seeing clearly, especially the many outcomes in various schools.
The size of a school does not necessarily mean that the school is efficient, he said.
According to Emmanuel, a resent research conducted to access the quality of learning outcome in public, private and also in highbrow schools, revealed that low cost private schools were not actually as low as people thought.
“People were shocked to discover that the outcome in these low cost private schools were not actually as low as they thought. It was obvious that some of these low cost schools are doing far better than some public schools.”
He urged government to priorities on how to make the environment friendly, for low cost income private schools, because children from low income familiar are there and must be catered for.
In his words, “If you look at it economically, the number of children that are being catered for there, are thrown out, government has to expand public facilities, to accommodate them. And of course we know the paucity of funds that has been affecting government projects in the country.
“And if that is the case, Government should think of a model that would accommodate owners of these low cost schools, to regulate them to do the right thing”.
“Like you can see in the hospitality industry, you have different grades of hotels, one-star to 7-star hotels and they are providing different services to different people and if that is actually done in the education sector, we are sure that the result will be far reaching.”
“Again what is very primary here is that, because of the activities of DEEPEN, the Lagos State Government has reviewed their policy for the establishment of private schools. Initially their requirement was as huge as a minimum of four plots of land, but now they have even reduced it to a plot of land, because there are different kinds of schools.”
He affirmed that if detailed attention is paid in managing the education sector, with the huge impact that could be made, through research result provided by the work of DEEPEN.
“I must tell you that in Lagos, the business environment for school owners is no longer the same, as the State Government, has benchmarked certification of private schools to business registration”.
“And this has enabled private schools in the State to access loans from financial institutions, because they are sure that Government will not close such schools down and from there, the schools will continue to grow,” he stated.
DFID-DEEPEN programme seeks to improve the quality of education offered in private schools, but with particular focus on children from low-income families.
DEEPEN intends to achieve this, by facilitating a more enabling environment for private schools and a more effective market, for them to offer an increased quality of education.

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