Lagos State government says it is working with the Federal Ministry of Education and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to arrive at a suitable time for the resumption of schools.
And, in what is expected to strengthen education quality in post-COVID-19, the state government is also recruiting at least 2,000 teachers ahead of school reopening.
The new teachers will make up for those who have retired from the system, as the education sector remains comatose following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which forced shutdown of both public and private schools.
It is still not certain when the schools would be reopened. But the Lagos commissioner for education, Folashade Adefisayo, said officials of the state are having conversations with the Federal Government to arrive at a date, guided by advice from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The 2,000 teachers would come in to fill observed gaps and boost the standard of public primary school education in the state.
Adefisayo stated this while highlighting the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration plans for education during an online discussion tagged ‘Covinspiration Show’, moderated by a United Nations (UN) youth ambassador, Dayo Isreal, to keep the public abreast of the administration’ activities in the last one year.
She said the state government could not unilaterally announce the reopening of schools since the pandemic did not affect Lagos alone.
The commissioner hinted that like other sectors already approved by the Federal Government to reopen, the state government was meeting with officials of the federal ministry of education to design guidelines that must be adopted before the schools will be reopened.
“We are watching the behaviour of the pandemic to see what happens next and we are working with the Federal Government on the reopening of the schools in the country. This is not a decision that any state can unilaterally take on its own. If we are certain that the children are safe, we will reopen the schools for learning to resume.
“We are working with the federal ministry of education and they are working with National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on the guidelines that could be adopted when the need arises for the schools to reopen.
“After the protocol is completed and health officials assured us that the coast is clear, we will give the schools some days to adjust their premises in accordance with the guidelines on commencement of academic activities”.
The commissioner further noted that the protocol would be enforced by the Lagos State Office of Education Quality Assurance to ensure strict compliance by both public and private schools across the state.
Adefisayo, who regretted the outbreak of COVID-19 and its impact on the education sector, the state government was, however, undertaking key projects to boost learning when the schools resume.
“The most important aspect of learning is the quality of teachers and we did not have enough teachers to actualise the set plan for learning in our public schools. And one of the earliest things we requested for and was granted by the governor was the recruitment of teachers.
“We have concluded the recruitment of 1,000 secondary school teachers. And we are currently working on the recruitment of 2,000 teachers for public primary schools. And we are looking at employing teachers every quarter because the rate of retirement of teachers is very high in Lagos.
The administration has granted the ministry permission to replace retired teachers,” the commissioner said.
She said apart from recruiting teachers, the state government has spent a lot on the training of existing teachers to improve their teaching skills in classrooms, adding “this COVID-19 period was the time when we were able to do a lot of things in the education sector of Lagos state.”
While noting that some of the programmes adopted after the schools were shut, the commissioner hinted that delivery of furniture for students and teachers was currently been delivered to schools in fulfilment of the promises made on welfare.