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OP-UNEDITED | Education in Alimosho and Lagos State – By Babatope Falade

By Babatope Falade

Alimosho is a local government area in the Ikeja Division in Lagos State, Nigeria. It is the largest local government with is the biggest local government in Lagos with a population of 2,047,026.

This population comprises of 1,099,656 males and 947,370 Females. This population size while not being a determinant of the general state of education in Lagos is important to appreciate the need to take a closer look at the conditions that need to be impressed upon the government for immediate action.

We have many monitoring and law enforcement agencies for traffic, indiscipline, crime, hygiene, but can we talk about any quality enforcement body or organization for the education of future leaders in populist speak or citizens and residents or Lagos State?

I do not make any attempt to generalize the trends in primary or secondary schooling in Alimosho, which process serves as agents of character formation in the early stages of a child’s life.

I intend and hope that stakeholders viewing the state through the eyes of the largest local government can begin to make hypothesis or create research questions on what constitutes education within and without the classroom which is the space government has provided and hopes will do the yeoman’s job of ensuring a quality citizenry, civil service and perhaps reduce the number of people who will take on low value jobs and crime in the future.

The need for government to also look into education planning, monitoring and evaluation with a different perspective is also important.

Alimosho has 50,583 primary school pupils which is the highest number of primary school pupils and the highest number of pupils in Junior Secondary school (39,471) and 26,039 students in senior secondary school.

Surulere the 8th most populous local government with 30 schools has more public senior secondary schools than Alimosho. It also has the highest number of public junior secondary schools (30).

Agege, Apapa and Ifako-Ijaiye 9th, 10th and 17th most populous respectively have the lowest number (5) of junior public secondary schools, while Ijaiye has the lowest number of public secondary schools (5).

Mushin the 4th most populous local government has the highest number of primary school (88).

Baring the descriptive statistics provided, one will question the education planning alongside the distribution of Primary, Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary schools in Lagos. Ideally, you will expect that Alimosho has the highest number based on the population distribution.

If this is not so, it means by inference and my personal observation that the job of educating many children in Alimosho will be left to private schools, many of whom don’t act in conformity to standards that the government will follow based on pedagogy and educational psychology.

Many schools in my Ijegun locality sing praise and worship at assembly time and when you take a look at the way their instructors teach, you will feel pained and bothered about the future of these mass number of children that are not properly educated.

The quality of teachers is also something to worry about. Most schools have to depend on secondary school leaving certificate holders to do the job of educating the children. There is simply no quality control. The environment where these kids are also thought, while inadequate can have minimum standards for the educational and psychological well-being of the students.

Most schools also don’t have computers. If we are a serious about the purpose of education, we need to start taking this seriously. It’s probably not easy to measure the ratio of computer to child in Lagos State right now, because of lack of data state-wide.

However, we need to ask what our education strategy, not tactic is. If we are still stuck to the literacy objectivity school of thought, then we have missed it. We are in a global village and many of our citizens are already connected to the information highway of the internet. We have access to mobile devices, but what can be achieved when our citizens are exposed to information technologies is huge and how that translates to local content in innovation, white collar jobs and contribution to the GDP of the service economy is sizeable.

Lagos can be the Estonia of Africa if the citizens are harnessed to take advantage of the knowledge economy. The current educational management system is best prime to produce a mass of quasi-skilled or semi-skilled workers, with more of the latter.

We must be able to create a high number of high value citizens who can match their counter parts in other knowledge driven economies in the world.

Lastly, the Ministry of Education in Lagos should take note of a trend of sales of popular art (cartoons, Indian movies, Chinese movies) that are being translated to Yoruba language and sold in mass quantities at major roundabouts at night especially. The sellers also have mobile cinemas where most of the audience constitutes children between 7 to 11 and teenagers.

While I agree that it’s good to have a grasp of our local language, I think the exposure of children to this materials that serve as their sources of education at that phase of their lives needs to be regulated. The English language needs a high degree of appreciation and our schools are traditionally struggling with that advanced instruction of the language. The global currency of business and information technology is in English, we can’t afford to augment the seeming failure of our schools with the pervasiness of the Yoruba interpreted Indian, Cartoon and Chinese movies.

The easiest excuse is that it is only for entertainment. According to Marshall McLuhan, what entertain pleases, what pleases educates.

There are a couple of suggestions that I hope stakeholders that read this piece will work on;

Ensure that primary, junior secondary and senior secondary school distribution matches population to a reasonable extent.

Where government cannot meet up with the deficit of educational institutions, they should ensure a rigorous system of monitoring of educational standards across private institutions that educate our citizens. The quality of teachers, modus operandi, curriculum, teaching materials etc must meet up with standards that in turn drive the success of Lagos State’s education strategy.

Computer Education is no longer a privilege, it must be a right. That should be the attitude and approach in a state like Lagos. If we don’t do that who will? The ratio of computer to child in Lagos needs to be assessed on a regular basis to understand if the long term goal of making Lagos the hub of Nigeria’s service/knowledge economy. This is not about foreign companies coming to set-up, we need the number of computer programmers and IT specialists to double year on year.

The avenues for miseducation our counter-productive education outside the classrooms need to be monitored and dealt with properly. A good example is the sales of Yoruba translated movies I cited in my last point.

Finally, I hope someone in government reads this and considers all or some point. I hope that the computer education point is implemented. We can’t neglect that. This economy needs to move away from commodity driven to knowledge export driven and that should start in Lagos.

Babatope Falade-Onikoyi is a public policy analyst whose focus is on the knowledge economy. He wlhas written extensively on the subject. He is the founder of Knowledge Economy Africa and the CEO of Walter and Edwards Communications. He tweets via @topefalade

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Inspired by Steve Biko’s ‘I Write What I Like‘, OP-UNEDITED is the citizen opinion segment of SIGNAL. All opinions posted on the OP-UNEDITED page are unedited and the raw opinions of the writers.

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