Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu on Thursday expressed the hope that the cases of out-of-school children would soon be a thing of the past as private organisations have collaborated with the state government under an initiative tagged ‘Project Zero,’ to provide succor to school children and increase accessibility to basic education in the state.
Project Zero, which is a collaborative effort between the state government through the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, and organized private sector will provide a school bag with school sniform, sandals, pairs of socks, writing materials and exercise books for school pupils to encourage and stimulate their interest in learning.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative, held within the premises of the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, LASUBEB, office at Maryland, Governor Sanwo-Olu, represented by his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, decried the rate of out of school pupils across the country.
Maintaining that the outbreak of COVID-19 and its attendant effects had further discouraged learning among pupils, coupled with economic effect of the pandemic on the parents, Sanwo-Olu said, “With the assured support of our partners, Project Zero will bring pupils on the brink of dropout back to school. Our activities shall commence with the tracking and identification of children who have dropped out or with high risk of dropping out of school.”
The governor commended the initiative by the organised private sector, coming together to partner with the state government to uplift the standard of education in the state.
He said, “I also appreciate you for the confidence you have reposed in us as government, to achieving our dream of an all-inclusive quality basic education. I must admit that your far-reaching donations and services will in no little way bring excitement and fulfilment to the lives of many children, who otherwise might have been deprived of basic education owing to varying reasons and circumstances beyond their control.”
In her remarks, the state Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, thanked Mr. Sanwo-Olu for willing to give substantial resources of the state to education and for his commitment to the delivery of quality standard of education in the state, particularly in investing in the EKOEXCEL.
The commissioner berated the failure of our social system, which has led to the menace of hoodlum in our society; and therefore called on all to join hands with government to tackle the out-of-school children menace in the state, adding that every child deserves access to quality and qualitative.
Recalling the positive impact of the Eko Excel initiative of the government, Adefisayo said that the governor deserves commendations for initiating the programme.
She expressed the hope that one of the objectives of Eko Excel initative, which is to ensure that every child should be able to read from primary one has started manifesting.
The Chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Education, Hon. Yinka Ogundimu, acknowledged the need for initiatives like Project Zero, saying there’s need for more similar partnership as government cannot do it alone.
He re-echoed the rate of decadence in the society, saying that the situation is not irredimable if the necessary efforts and policies are implemented.
Ogundimu revealed that the Assembly and the executive arm have already set machineries in motion to guarantee quality education as evidence in the proposed 2021 budget.
He said that the proposed budget, with education in the front burner of, the House of Assembly will work with the executive to implement the policy direction of the government through budget monitoring, and over sight duties to ensure that the huge sum allocated to education is used judiciously.
LASUBEB Executive Chairman, Hon. Wahab Alawiye-King, extolled the passion of the governor for the sector and the priority accorded quality education
He maintained that quality education is not only the best gift every child should have, but it has now become the right of every child that is backed by law.
Alawiye-King disclosed that children of school age now have no reason to stay at home with the support already being shown by different stakeholders within the education sector to encourage learning.
Alawiye-King assured all stakeholders in the education sector that every contribution realized for the project will be used for the purpose of ensuring that every child of school age has no reason to be away from school.
A permanent member of LASUBEB, Mrs. Shijuade Idowu-Tiamiyu, gave a background to the Project Zero initiative, explaining that the project has a long way to go to achieve its intended objectives; even as she, therefore called for involvement of more private organizations.
She informed that apart from economic reasons, research has shown that the fear of contacting COVID-19, relocation of parents, among other factors had further discouraged some parents from releasing their children to go to school during this period, a development, which according to her had further increased the number of out of school pupils.
Idowu-Tiamiyu described the Project Zero as timely and very apt, stressing that the intervention will help bridge some identified gaps among school children.