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Stakeholders commend, tasks LASG on safe school reopening, infrastructure

Lagos, Sept. 29, 2020

Some stakeholders in the education sector have commended the Lagos State Government (LASG) for it’s outstanding performance in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the education sector.

This is contained in a communique issued at the end of a one-day Citizens Forum on COVID-19, Safe School Reopening, Sustainable Quality and Inclusive Education for Girls and other Marginalized Children, in Lagos.

The forum was organised by the Human Development Initiatives (HDI) in collaboration with Actionaid, Nigeria, with the support of NORAD.

The Forum noted innovations by the LASG in the education sector by leveraging on existing
radio platforms to support children to learn at home during the lockdown as well as its ongoing
efforts in safe school reopening.

It, however, challenged the LASG on the sustainability of the quality of education to ensure its preparedness in the event of future pandemic.

The forum emphasized government’s responsiveness to the needs of girls and children with disabilities.

Other concerns raised by the forum included:

”Concern over sustainability of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in schools
and compliance to COVID-19 safety measures and systems put in place by the LASG for school reopening.

”Inadequate data quality to plan and respond to educational emergencies in timely and efficient manner, especially in supporting the learning needs of children with disabilities,
girls, other poor and marginalized children during pandemic.

” These children struggled to partake in e-learning activities during the COVID-19 pandemic;

”Weak data gathering system for tracking Out of School Children during/after the COVID-19 pandemic.

”Weak structure (system and community) for sustaining quality of education.

The forum said there was a weak community involvement in education governance .

This, it said, was evident in the late and inadequate engagement with critical stakeholders which excluded parents of children in
public schools, recognized associations of persons with disabilities, and civil society
organizations working in the sector during critical planning for school reopening.

Other concerns raised by the forum included:

” Inconsistency between budget and inclusive education policy of the LASG.

”Inadequate professional teachers to run inclusive education programme is a setback to the implementation of inclusive education policy in Lagos State;

”Weak Monitoring & Evaluation framework to track the outcomes of teachers trained
with public funds;

”Concerns about the gaps exposed by COVID-19 in the Lagos State Education Sector plan and the need to revisit and review the Lagos State Inclusive Education Policy in line with the current trends;

” The use of tax certificate as a requirement for enrollment of children to school is contributing to the number of out-of-school children and will worsen children’s school return rate during this period.

The forum also revisited previous burning issues deliberated upon for the building up of a resilient education system in the state.

It hoped that the LASG would find them useful in lifting education to an enviable height in the state.

Some of the issues included

”The Education Sector is still underfunded despite the increased allocation in the 2020
Lagos State Appropriation Act.

”Infrastructure and resources required for ICT- enhanced learning are virtually non-
existent;

”Awareness on the Lagos State Inclusive Education Policy is low even among key
stakeholders;

”The number and quality of Public Schools in the state is still inadequate, which compels many parents to enroll their children in substandard private schools;

”The number of subject teachers in public schools is still grossly inadequate especially in the rural and hard-to-reach areas. This is despite the recent 3,000 teachers’ recruitment exercise by the LASG.

The forum noted that the proliferation of special centres disguising as private schools further lowered the
standard and quality of school outputs and contributes to mass out-flow of students
from the public schools especially at SS 2 in order to enroll and write external
examinations in those ‘special centres.

It said that the prevalence of child sexual abuse within and outside schools was a threat, especially to girl child education and required more stringent punitive and preventive measures.

It observed that the delay in the payment of retirement benefits for teachers raised apprehension about
retirement among teachers and school managers.

” This requires prompt attention by the State government because it limits teachers capacity to perform their roles
conscientiously and effectively while in service.

”Teachers posted to locations too far from place of residence, rural or hard-to-reach
areas need adequate provisions and incentives that will enable them live closer and
comfortably in their various places of primary assignment.

”The menace of teenage pregnancies especially in border areas was a serious challenge to
girl child education,” the Forum said.

The stakeholders were drawn from the Ministry of Education, Teachers Service Commission, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Nigerian Union of Teachers, School Based Management Committee, Representative of Education Districts and the media.

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