A former Minister of Education and World Bank Vice President for Africa, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili on Tuesday commended the Babatunde Fashola administration in Lagos State for its pacesetting work and unwavering commitment to improve the standard of education in the State.
The former Minister who delivered the keynote address at the opening of the third Lagos State Education Summit with the theme, “Qualitative Education in Lagos State: Raising the Standard” held at the Eko Hotels and Towers, Victoria Island also applauded the sterling leadership of the Governor.
She said with the kind of reforms that has been started by the State Government through its steadfast focus on delivery of teacher improvement, irrespective of whatever indices are used to measure it, the State has made very significant progress.
Dr Ezekwesili who also until very recently the World Bank Vice President for Africa singled out the EKO Project of the State Government for its successes and the way it has been adapted to suit the Lagos experience, explaining that the EKO Project promoted accountability and openness through its approval of discretional grants by schools.
She said the improvement recorded in external examinations by pupils in the State is indicative that the reforms and additional trainings being embarked upon for teachers are yielding results.
She urged the State Government to continue with boldness to put the educational sector in its right place and also step up activities, adding that the State can indeed double the results she has been recording in WASCE.
The lecturer said the issue of bureaucracy is a major hindrance to the raising of standards in education, explaining that a programme like the EKO Project has found a way of not allowing bureaucracy to stifle the effective implementation of education policies.
Dr Ezekwesili also commended Lagos State for being the only state to have continued with the Adopt -A- School policy which was being pursued by the Federal Government then, adding that the entire society must join in the task of revamping education.
The former Education Minister noted with regrets that the minimum prescription of achievement of 100 percent enrolment under the Millennium Development Goal by 2015 is impracticable in Nigeria based on current trends because there are about 56 million illiterate Nigerians who must be literate by 2015 to achieve that goal.
Delivering his address on the occasion, Governor Fashola explained that the State Government has not taken any decision on whether pupils will wear Hijab or not, adding that the emphasis is on what the children know and not what they wear.
According to him, government is mindful of the inequalities in the society and thinks also that her continuous investment in education will help to bridge those inequalities.
The Governor stated that the results from public examinations show year on year from 2007 that education is heading in the right direction in the state noting that if it was a quick fix, it will have its many political appeals.