Stakeholders laud DEEPEN project, want it replicated in other states


As Developing Effective Private Education Nigeria (DEEPEN), a programme funded by United Kingdom’s (UK) Department for International Development (DFID), concludes its five-year project in Lagos, stakeholders in the southwest region have called for replication of the programme owing to its immense benefits to the country.

The stakeholders comprising of commissioners of education, budget and planning, permanent secretaries and directors, as well as top government officials from the southwest region converged on Park Inn Hotel, Abeokuta, to share in the regional dissemination of lessons learnt and outcomes of the programme.Participants called on the project facilitators to see how the programme could be replicated in other states and regions for maximum results.

DEEPEN project was designed to facilitate a more enabling environment for low-cost private schools and create an effective market that would enable them offer quality education for children from low-income households.

The overall aim of the project was to reposition low income schools; expose them to market opportunities and best practices; improve learning outcomes in the sector and above all, encouraged government to rather than clampdown on the low-income schools, see the operators as partners in progress.

The team also through series of its research-based programmes, linked operators of the low-cost schools to service providers; offered massive training on finance, savings and taxation which liberated the group from illegal taxation by unscrupulous individuals. The programme, which will wind down next month did not only meet its objectives but also surpassed its target, according to the beneficiaries.

The pilot project was implemented in Lagos owing to its large and growing population. Not only that, the private sector according to research is a major player in the state’s education scene, dominating at early childhood education and primary level.

The DEEPEN team recalled how the participation of the private sector have saved for Lagos state government the sum of N377bn between 2010 and 2015.A former President of Association for Formidable Educational Development (AFED), the umbrella body of low-cost private schools association, Mrs Esther Dada, recalled how DEEPEN successfully made the state government to change its hostile attitude towards low-income schools.

Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Modupe Mujota; its Kwara State counterpart, Mrs Bilkisu Oniyangi; Commissioners for Budget and Planning in Osun and Kwara states, Dr Olalekan Yinusa and Mr Odewale Wasiu, as well as permanent secretaries and other representatives from Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo states in their respective remarks applauded the project, charging the facilitators to see how it could be duplicated in other states.

Southwest Regional Coordinator, DFID, David Ukagwu said the UK government is working with Nigeria to use her resources to better the lots of the citizens.DEEPEN Team Leader, Gboyega Ilusanya said since schools are actually business, the art of business must be mastered by operators to enable them thrive and achieve a common goal which is delivering quality basic education to the masses.

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