In realization of the strategic role of education as a key driver of socio-economic development, the Sanwo-Olu administration made Education and Technology 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.
A principal part of the government’s plan toward improving public education is infrastructure renewal in public schools. Being a government that believes in a methodical approach to governance, the Sanwo-Olu Administration inaugurated the Special Committee for Rehabilitation of Public Schools (SCRPS) for proper synchronisation.
The Committee has since been carrying out its mandate conscientiously, renovating selected schools across the State, while a maintenance plan was also created with the designation of Facilities Maintenance Officer to each School. Plans are also on the way to commission new schools.
By February 2020, the Committee commenced construction works in about thirty public schools, building new classroom blocks as well as renovating defective ones.
As soon as the COVID-19 lockdown was eased, the contractors were mobilised back to the site so as to deliver the schools projects within a reasonable time frame.
The government has been monitoring ongoing work to ensure standards are not compromised. Building codes are being strictly adhered to, as soil test is carried out to determine what type of foundation the school project will rest on before construction work commences.
A typical example is the on-going (construction of 18 classroom blocks) in FESTAC Junior Grammar School in Amuwo Local Government, which is seated on a raft foundation. Same goes for the 18 classroom block at Elemoro Junior Secondary School, Ibeju-Lekki. Also, where there are inadequate hostels, new ones are being constructed in the model colleges to ease accommodation problems.
Considering the fact that schools are going to resume soon, efforts are being made to ensure that necessary infrastructure that will aid adherence to COVID-19 protocol is put in place. For instance, there is a need to instil the principle of social distancing in the sitting arrangement in the classrooms.
Similarly, very soon, most of the modular schools that will be visible in the State’s public schools would provide ample space for Information and Communication Technology (lCT). This is to ensure the teaching and learning process is anchored on lCT. To really kick-start that process, public school teachers have been intensively trained on visual teaching and learning.
One noticeable dimension to the public schools’ infrastructure renewal drive is the security angle. Thus, the Security improvement Programme (SiP) 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 floodlight 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 schools and protect lives.
The good thing is that the Sanwo-Olu administration is not only addressing 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 63,190 units of dual single composite student benches and tables are being supplied to the public secondary schools while about 25,000 units are being produced for the primary schools in phase one of the scheme.
In the Education District l, for instance, about 10,200 units are being produced and delivery is in progress while some schools have taken delivery of the students’ furniture in the Education District 2 where a total number of 11,200 were allocated in the first phase. Eva Adelaja Girls, Somolu and Maya Junior Grammar School in Ikorodu are some of the Schools in the District that have taken delivery of the student furniture.
In the Education District 3, a total number of 8,800 were allocated to the schools while in District 4 a total number of 8,290 students’ furniture are to be supplied. In District 5, about 13,800 have been allocated to the schools while about 10,900 have been allocated to the public schools in Education District 6. The process of supplying furniture to Lagos public schools is a continuous one and the Principals and teachers are not also left out in the provision of essential furniture to the schools.
Currently, construction is ongoing in the State’s public schools with projects ranging from 10 classroom blocks, 12 classrooms to 18 classroom blocks. In District 1, for instance, at the Lagos Baptist Secondary School, Agege while the construction of a new 12 classroom block is equally on-going at the Igando Junior Grammar School and Alimosho and Ijaiye Ojokoro Housing Estate Junior secondary school. A new 18 classroom block is equally being constructed at Alagbado Junior Grammar school.
All these efforts are geared towards reducing the students’ classroom ratio in public schools and also to make teaching and learning easier.
Other schools where construction of new blocks of classrooms are on-going include Ojota Junior Grammar School, Muslim Senior College, Oworonshoki, Eva Adelaja Memorial Girls Grammar School, Somolu, Lagos State Model College Badore, Model College, Igbokuta, Model College, Oriokuta, 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.
If governance is truly about adding value to the people’s lives and propounding creative solutions to critical societal needs, then the Lagos State government is actually on the right path in its pact with the citizenry. Lagosians are implored to protect and preserve the public schools’ infrastructure in their respective domains as they represent our collective heritage.
Oladapo is of the Public Affairs Unit, Special Committee for Rehabilitation of Public Schools (SCRPS).