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Lagos news: Oppostion party condemns Governor Fashola’s education programme

Opposition party, the DPA has condemned  the Lagos State for not having a clear cut on implementation of Free Education

The party also accused the Lagos State Government of not committing adequate funds to the  development of education in the state.

DPA  in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwin said:

‘It is sad that the Deputy Governor who doubles as Commissioner for Education, Princess Sarah Sosan, recently oversaw an Education Summit that advocated the scrapping of the Free Education policy, while the Governor countered with a converse statement, DPA surmised that the two varied positions showed the AC government in Lagos held this great policy in contempt.

“How can the state’s two most prominent citizens be singing different tunes on a policy as grave and encompassing as Free Education? If they had commitment to it, would it not have been the very cornerstone of their government? But they know that if they come all out to say they have scrapped Free Education, people will query their progressives credentials and they will lose votes at elections. Lagosians, beware! Deputy Governor Sosan has unwittingly let the cat out of the bag, AC is about to bury Free Education in Lagos State !” according to the DPA statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina.

According to DPA, the confusion in the two statements highlighted the troubled state of the sector, which has this year alone suffered two teachers strike, and had witnessed the selling off of the Ketu Campus of the Lagos State Polytechnic to a private holding with another planned sale of the School of Nursing complex at Ikoyi to a private hotel.

However, DPA hoped that in this cacophony of the absurd, the Governor’s voice would prevail over that of the Deputy Governor.

DPA reeled out statistics showing that the over N159 billion the Action Congress (AC) in Lagos claimed to have spent on education in the last nine years had gone down the drain with:

  • Half of all secondary school classrooms dilapidated;
  • Almost 67 percent of Lagos children of primary school age unable to enroll;
  • Only 20 percent of those who enroll finishing primary school;
  • 12 percent of children starting primary school go on to complete secondary education; while
  • Only 40 percent of primary and secondary school students complete schooling.

The party recalled media reports of overcrowding in classrooms with records of over 120 students in a class, a direct contradiction to the United Nations pupil-teacher ratio of 1:25 . Newspapers recently captured pupils in the model Millennium Secondary Schools sitting on the floor to take lessons.

“One wonders that a government having no qualms paying a private company 15 percent monthly cannot invest as much to educate its youth,” the party said. “And then, when we concentrate on planting shrubs instead of planning our children’s education, those dropouts will mess up those flowers.”

DPA pointed out that the Nigerian Constitution in Chapter II titled “Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy” stated in Chapter 18(1), that: “Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels… Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy; and to this end Government shall as and when practicable provide, free, compulsory and universal primary education; free secondary education; free university education; and free adult literacy programme.”

Lagos DPA expressed its own commitment to Free Education, in line with the Afenifere creed as spelt out by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and other founding fathers of the South-West.

According to DPA, “Being Awoist is more than wearing the cap and the specs of the man, it entails buying into his policies, especially when they are still very relevant to the people he fought for. With many parents losing their jobs and means of livelihood and poverty increasing and with all the parameters of employment failing, students need all the help they can get from a caring, listening and sensitive government.”

The party said the government has also failed to guarantee quality control in public schools, and pointed out that: “Even Governor Fashola’s Alma Mater, Birch Freeman High School in Surulere area of Lagos, has become a tattered shadow of itself and is a far cry from his time there as a student.”

In the words of the party: “Things have gone so bad that there are reports of three schools sharing one classroom and different teachers working simultaneously. In this rainy season some schools are spotting so many leaks that pupils and teachers have to hurdle into the safe areas of their classrooms. Even classes in the Governor’s alma mater, Birch Freeman High School , do not have windows.”

The party said current state of schools highlighted the rot the AC government inflicted on the sector in the last ten years.

According to the party, the government should creatively tackle the unhealthy indices currently earmarking government-owned schools, including incessant strikes, inadequate teachers for subjects, unchecked levies, low teacher morale, lack of facilities, shanty buildings and dearth of scholarships, bursaries and foreign training.

“Alhaji Lateef Jakande’s regime was accused of building ‘poultry-sheds’ in public schools in the 1980s, but he left a legacy of free education for all, unlike the present AC regime in Lagos that enjoys unprecedented wealth yet cannot be identified with any policy direction on education,” DPA said.