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From mega to smart city as Lagos reviews 30-year-old policy

By Iyabo Lawal |   07 May 2018   |   3:38 am  

Until recently, the last time the review of the Lagos State Policy on Education took place was in 1988. Decades after, the state had metamorphosed from being a former capital of Nigeria into being a mega city. But as a flourishing entity –the centre of excellence- that is now aiming to become a smart city, a revamp of its education policy became necessary. Recently, the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode administration made a public presentation and review of a new education policy designed to drive present realities and realise future potentialities, writes Head, Education Desk, IYABO LAWAL

For decades Lagos State has been the bastion of freedom, democracy, industrialisation, and education. It is listed as one of the fastest growing cities in the world – in terms of economy and population.

From being a mega city, it is fast turning into a smart city; and to fully achieve that the centre of excellence must shed its obstructive toga of yesteryears.

The driver of the transformation from a mega city to a smart city is –expectedly– a reformed education policy that embraces the realities of the 21st century and accommodates the potentials of future possibilities.

It is to this end that the Lagos State Government, under the leadership of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and hisdeputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule, decided to give a touch of excellence to an education policy that had been struggling to embrace contemporaneity.

To put the effort of the Ambode-led administration as regards education in proper context, the last time the state’s education policy was reviewed was in 1988. In other words, it has some 30 years to review the education policy of the state.

Consequently, the current administration last year organised a three-day retreat on ‘Lagos State Education Policy Review: Expanding Access to Quality Education’ to review the education policy of the state towards a better education service delivery.

The draft document underscores the desire of the government to ensure access to inclusive education, upgrade standards in line with global best practices, and ensure an efficient administrative and management control system. The policy also seeks to provide a functional model for the delivery of qualitative education.

Fittingly, those who anchored the review described the policy’s mission thus: “To provide high quality education accessible to all learners through effective and efficient management of resources for the attainment of self reliance and socio-economic development.” In consonance with that, the policy’s vision is, “To be a model of excellence in the provision of education in Africa.”

In line with the country’s National Policy on Education, the goals of education in Lagos State include the development of the individual into a morally sound, patriotic and effective citizen; total integration of the individual into the immediate community, the Nigerian society and the world; provision of equal access to qualitative educational opportunities for all citizens at all levels of education, within and outside the formal school system; inculcation of national consciousness, values and national unity; development of appropriate skills, mental, physical and social abilities and competencies to empower the individual to live and contribute positively to the society.

The policy also provides that the medium of instruction in the lower Primary One to Three should include the mother tongue (Yoruba) while instruction will be given in English language in Primary Four to Six.

It states further that the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) should be the minimum teaching qualification in elementary schools. The document also encourages parents and guardians to place pupils in the nearest primary schools of residence.

Concerning the junior secondary school, the policy intends to ensure that a minimum of nine and maximum of ten subjects are taken by pupils while emphasizing its readiness to sanction the admission of underage pupils into J.S 1 in public and private schools in the state.

According to the policy, efforts will be made to promote UNESCO recommended teacher-pupils ratio at the junior secondary level in public and private schools towards ensuring improved learning outcomes.

The draft policy also touches on post-basic education and career development, noting that it “is the education, which children are exposed to after the basic education level. It is categorised into the senior Secondary schools and the technical colleges.”

Furthermore, provisions are made in the document to ensure that unqualified candidates –S.S. 1 and S.S. II students– are not registered for public examinations such as WASSCE, NECO/SSCE, etc., by public and private schools.

A stakeholders’ engagement session was organised to finalise the review of the Lagos State Policy on Education.

Speaking on the reviewed document, the Deputy Governor, Adebule, noted, “The transformation of Lagos State from a mega city to an emerging smart city is in top gear as evident in the radical changes in the landscape and skyline of the state.

The sustainability of our investments in this growth and development is heavily dependent on the smartness of the generation of youths to whom we will bequeath the state for future management of the existing infrastructure and the provision of new ones as time and needs would dictate.”

She added, “To produce the smart youths, our educational system must be re-engineered and schools repositioned to deliver graduate students who will blend with global trends.

It is in pursuit of this goal, that, we are here gathered as stakeholders in the education sector to brainstorm and agree on some proposed reforms.”
According to the policy, all children of school age are expected to have access to a ten-year free, compulsory and inclusive universal basic education.

As regards the teaching professionals, the policy states that all teachers in the state’s schools (private and public) should be academically qualified and professionally certified by the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN). The aim is to inculcate appropriate knowledge, positive values, attitudes and the acquisition of skills, abilities and competencies for a self-reliant life and enhancement of development.

Speaking in a similar vein, the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Education, Mrs. Adebunmi Adekanye, commended the commitment of the Ambode administration in raising the bar of academic excellence of the state.

“This is further reinforced by the budgeted sum of N126.3bn to further consolidate on his deliveries in the sector this year.

This sum, I must say is bigger than the total budget of some States of the federation. The intervention of this administration in the sector in terms of construction of classrooms, laboratories, supply of furniture, strengthening security andstaff motivation, have combined to create a better environment for teaching and learning,” Adekanye stated. 

The icing on the cake was the review done by the erudite scholar and former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola, who testified to the robust nature of the reviewed document.

He said, “I read through the entire revised draft policy twice and found it to be very comprehensive, rich and forward-looking. The roles of every stakeholder are very clearly specified in the policy; no overlaps; no ambiguity. There is high internal consistency in the document and synergy.  It is a model for other states and even a template for the federal at the next revision of the National Policy on Education. I am personally looking forward to a formal launch of this document. As soon as that ceremony closes, I hope to share the document especially within UNESCO global community to see what the Lagos State Government has done.”

According to him, the draft policy is one of the best policy documents on education he has ever seen. It is almost impossible not to agree with him as a scrutiny of the document reveals some distinctive features. Okebukola, an expert in education science, explained in his analysis of the draft.

“First, it is both contemporary and futuristic in orientation. It has provisions for the contemporary issues as well as future directions of education in Lagos State. Second, it is comprehensive.

It covers all the angles relating to input, process, output and outcomes. Third, it is detailed. The sections of ‘Basic Education’ and ‘Quality Assurance’ exemplify this. Fourth, it is well aligned with the National Policy on Education in terms of structure and framework.

“It has three parts. The first part provides an overview of educational development in Lagos State. The second part is on specific policies for different levels of education- basic, senior secondary, technical and vocational and higher.  Part 3 makes policy provisions for educational governance,” Okebukola pointed out.

As indicated in the introduction to the policy, the purpose of reviewing the state’s education policy is to enhance the state’s human resource by providing free and compulsory qualitative education to the state’s citizens at all levels of education.

This is necessitated by the alarming rate at which the state’s population is increasing with its facilities and administration of education over-stretched.

The draft policy, which was produced last December, went through the scrutiny of some experts. Okebukola was one of them and he gave his testimony.

“When I received the first draft of the policy, I subjected it to intensive analysis. In my view, Lagos State should not just have a policy on education for show.

But being a centre of excellence, its policy on education should reflect excellence. Ask me to name the best state policy on education in Nigeria today and Lagos State’s policy on education stands out as No. 1.

After reviewing the policy with what we have in the top three educational systems in the world – Finland, South Korea, and Singapore – the Lagos State Policy on Education is no pushover.

I wish to congratulate Her Excellency, Dr. Idiat Adebule on this success and wish her more power to her elbow,” he said.

In comparison, putting the educational policy of Finland side by side that of the Lagos State Education Policy: the Finnish policy aims at providing equal opportunities for all citizens to high-quality education and training.

The Lagos State Education Policy does the same. The key words in Finnish education policy are quality, efficiency, equity and internationalisation.

The policy is built on the principles of life-long learning and free education. Education is seen as a key to competitiveness and wellbeing of the society.

The Lagos State Education Policy shares the same attributes.

Okebukola also believes that the state’s policy compares favourably with that of South Korea. On September 23, 2015, the Ministry of Education in South Korea adopted the National Guidelines of the 2015 Revised Policy.

The new national curriculum from the policy will be fully implemented by 2020, and its key objective is to cultivate a “creative and integrative learner.”

The revised Lagos State Policy on Education appears faultless on paper. It is hoped that all stakeholders – government officials, teachers, private school administrators, parents, and students –will be committed to bringing the ideals of the document to life.

With that, the metamorphosis of Lagos State as mega city ito a smart city is assured.

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