The Lagos State Government says it will invest more on Information Technology (IT) in education to sustain the pace set for learning from COVID-19 Pandemic.
The state’s Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo, made the remark at one-day Close Out Meeting of Tax Justice and Gender Responsive Public Service Project (Breaking Barriers) in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event, which held on Thursday at Ikeja was organised by the Human Development Initiatives (HDI) in collaborations with ActionAid and Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD).
According to her, it is good that an external organisation is assessing, transparently and openly, whether tax payers money is adequately and appropriately being utilised.
“They used to say public education is free but we all know it’s not free because somebody is paying for it and it’s coming from our individual taxes to the state government,” she said.
Adefisayo added that the Lagos government would continue to support the project.
“It is important for us to hear and know if we’re doing right, what/where we are not doing well and how we can improve on what we are doing.
“The impact of COVID-19 was mostly adverse but like I used to say through that period, I did and hoped that from the ashes of the terrible event something good will come.
“What it did was to force us all to reimagine and rethink education, did we know that we could broadcast on television, radio, or give devices to our children and have a web portal?.
“Before then, we used to think that IT is expensive and we can’t do it, but it set the pace for us and I am glad to let you know that we will continue to build on the learning from COVID-19,” she added.
The commissioner noted that a major effect of COVID-19 was increase in ‘Out of School Children’ which led to a SUBEB programme tagged ‘ Project Zero’ where efforts were made to bring students back to school.
Adefisayo noted that LASUBEB worked with the private sector, corporate sponsors,amd NGOs which she described as being instrumental to the advancement, growth, importance and impact of educational system in Lagos State.
Also, Mrs Olufunso Owasanoye, Executive Director, HID, in her address said the programme was purposely designed to draw more attention to Gender Inequality with the focus to promote quality, equitable, inclusive and free public funded education for all.
Owasanoye explained that the emphasis was on girls, children with disabilities and other marginalised group through tax justice.
“It is a unique project because of the way it was designed to link tax injustice to the provision of public services.
“This is in a way that it will respond to the needs and rights of all children, as a tool for public awareness, advocacy and ultimately positive change set to record progress.
“The critical outcome areas are ‘4S’, : Size of state budget, Share allocated to/spend on education, Scrutiny through active community involvement and Sensitisation of government policies and programmes to the right of all children,” she said.
On the success story of the project, the HID Director said that the journey had recorded unions and community stakeholders’ actions demanding for improved quality, inclusive/free public education and holding government accountable.
According to her, the action of LASG in prioritising, progressively increasing allocation to education and consequently improving education services and infrastructure in response to needs of children with disabilities is commendable.
“These positive changes have made it clear that the LASG is listening and that our years of advocacy engagements were not in vain.”
However, the project suffered from shortage of funds to execute some planned major interventions being the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, she explained.
Owasanoye expressed gratitude to the Lagos State Ministry of Education, SUBEB, ActionAid Nigeria, its partner and sponsor of the project and NORAD, government institutions, coalition groups and individuals, urging them to continue to be instrumental of improvement to quality of education in Lagos State.
Speaking, Mr Ene Obi, said that a Safe Space Club was established in some junior primary schools in Alimosho, Badagry and Epe LGAs’ aimed to build the capacity of girls to know their rights, voice out their challenges and seek protection where necessary.
Obi said the Breaking Barriers Project addressed some of the barriers that prevented children, particularly girls and vulnerable children, from enjoying their rights to free, quality and inclusive public education.
He pointed out that the findings revealed that there were discrimination, inadequate financing band the proliferation of private, low-cost schools which were handled.
“In Lagos, six junior secondary, three primary schools across Alimosho, Badagry and Epe LGAs were supported to set up Safe Space Clubs amidst the pandemic and 673 translators radios were also provided to aid their access to e-learning.
“It is worthy to note that about 1,500 girls across these schools are thriving in their environment in the Safe Space Club, thanks to facilitators for their dedication, serving as confidant and role models to the girls.
Also, Mrs Olayemi Oni, Director Legal, Ministry of Finance, Alausa Secretariat, described the programme as laudable initiative in line with one of the major agenda of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu when he assumed office.
Oni said that education, as an important aspect, is the heartbeat of development in any county, hence it was fundamental to create an enabling environment for children to get basic education.
She solicited for more advocacy and initiative of the programme across the country to reduce illiteracy rate.
“Education is the bedrock of any economy; if we don’t get our children educated, bridge that gap, and develop them in the right direction, it will be tantamount to the economy dying slowly.
“Such programme should be taken down to the grassroots as part of efforts to create awareness, sensitisation and on the part of government, there should be more funding and support from NGOs, she said.(NAN)
•PHOTO: Mrs Folasade Adefisayo