Education is universally considered to be pivotal in societal development and foundational to a brighter future. Most especially, public education such as obtained in primary and secondary schools is quite invaluable. Yet, this same vital public education sector has suffered cumulative deterioration under the APC government in Lagos State. The deplorable situation gives the Labour Party Guber Candidate Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (GRV) much cause for concern, and is one of the critical areas he wants to tackle seriously when elected Lagos State governor in 2023.
A random visit to most public primary and secondary schools in Lagos reveals a deep level of poor standards of education across the state. In the days of the Lateef Jakande-led government (and even in the 70s and 80s), most public schools in the state were at par with the private schools. This allowed children from disadvantaged families to enjoy access to sound quality education that resulted in the nation producing some of the best civil servants and captains of industry Nigeria ever had. The trend helped create a balancing act and foster a brighter future for the sons and daughters of artisans, market women, carpenters, drivers, mechanics, clerks, etc to become
world-class professionals and wealth creators.
However, it is saddening that the last twenty years of the AD, ACN and APC governments have eroded the quality of education in Lagos State. Specifically, teachers are no longer motivated, classrooms in most parts of the state lack modern teaching facilities, many schools do not have comfortable furniture for the students or comfortable offices for the teachers. In the same vein, there has been a massive increase in exam malpractices, resulting in abysmal students’ failure rates in all the public schools in the state.
But as the decline in education standards spreads across public schools in Lagos, the children of the elite are acquiring top class education in select elite private primary and secondary schools. This enables them to promptly gain admissions to higher institutions and complete their university education faster than children from lower-class homes who end up lagging behind or even dropping out.
Now, education is a major plank of GRV’s vision for Lagos State.
Gbadebo as a public policy expert and his deputy guber candidate will within the first 30 days of their government run a comprehensive evaluation of the state of education in all primary, secondary and tertiary schools in the state with special focus on the quality of education in the disadvantaged areas of the state. On completion of this evaluation, the GRV government will declare a state of emergency in the educational sector and then facilitate the education of indigent students with special bursaries and other support initiatives to ensure no child is left behind in access to top quality education. In addition, the possibility of giving a meal a day to all the children to improve their nutritional needs will be explored. And of course, a GRV government will also undertake a comprehensive upward review of salaries, welfare packages and capacity building programmes for teachers to be optimally motivated.
Someone may ask: how will the GRV adminstration fund all those noble and people-centred public education revamping policies enumerated above? Well, the policies will be funded by blocking all the loopholes in state finances, such as obnoxious rent seeking by the elites, over 50 billion naira payable yearly to unscrupulous consultants, massive land fraud by the cabals, and bogus inflated contract practices that have become the conduit pipe used to divert the commonwealth of Lagosians.
In all, a Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour-led government will uphold integrity and accountability as a state policy by introducing an open and transparent contracting system in the state that will carry the public along on the cost implications of every major project. GRV assures that this is the beginning of the good wind of change that is coming to blow away the decades of decay under APC government and restore educational glory to long-suffering Lagosians.