The prodigal wards

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GBENGA OGUNDARE

SO far in Lagos alone, the World Bank has commited some $90 million (13.5 billion) as loan to fund teaching and learning infrastructure under the state’s Eko Secondary Education Project between 2009 and 2013.
That’s aside from another N500 million state fund former Governor Babatunde Fashola claimed to have shelled out on training 18,000 teachers between 2010 and 2013, and another N535,047,000 the state also claimed to have paid as examination and administrative fees for 42,995 SS3 students who sat for the May/June 2015 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in the state.
That comes to exactly N12,444 invested on each of the candidates who wrote the 2015 WASSCE. But don’t swoon on the endless cash flow yet. More than half of those wards failed to post five credit passes, including in English Language and Mathematics eventually. And quite unlike the Lagos State Government which likes to dizzy the public with ambiguous figures and facts all in the guise of accountability, no one from the education ministry has come out to flaunt that woeful report card in the faces of Lagosians since WAEC released the results several weeks back. Not even in 2014 when the national overall failure rate stood at a shocking 70 percent and Lagos State ranked among the 26-45 percent on the WAEC performance scale for all the states where the WASSCE exam held in Nigeria.
Apparently someone in the Education Ministry is thinking like Adewale Adeduntan. Exposing such an unimpressive performance to the public despite the huge international assistance, the South-West Zonal Facilitator at the Christian Rural and Urban Development Association of Nigeria [CRUDAN] reasons, would bring everything but glad tidings to the World Bank and the Department For International Development [DFID] which had all along been lavishing development assistance to shape up the public education sector in the state.
24 June, 2014, Ronke Azeez, Fashola’s former Special Adviser on Eko Project told Nigerians that the Lagos State Government had plunked down a princely N2.4 billion of the World Bank loan on the training of 16,445 teachers and 7,998 principals between 2009 to 2013.
According to her, “…N2.1billion was spent on students tracking and assessment over the period and N480 million was also spent on teachers mentoring programme and allowances of volunteer teachers.”
The former Special Adviser also said an average of N10million was released to each of 667 schools during the period while N40million was released to each of 104 federal unity schools under the Step-B project.
How the state managed to effectively utilize them between the time students resume for class at 8am and close for the day at 2pm Azeez did not explain exactly, but the erstwhile Special Adviser also said the DFID fund helped the Lagos State Government procured 839 projectors,753 internet modems,3,441 softwares,656 generators for schools during the period.
The specifics of the training programs for teachers and principalsfor instance its frequency, duration and venueand the students’ tracking and assessment and how that impacted on students’ performance in the state, as well as how the 667 public schools utilize their N10 million largesse, Azeez did not disclose however.
At any rate, no less than 977,072 young Nigerians who wrote the 2015 WASSCE will forfeit the opportunity of a tertiary education this year, regardless of their impressive scores in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, [UTME].
The West Africa Examination Council told Nigerians weeks back these young minds failed to make a compulsory credit pass in Mathematics and English Language in the annual council’s examination conducted last May. That’s approximately 67 percent of the total 1,593,442 students who wrote the examination nationwide, and a massive N12,159,075,285 billion wasted by the 36 state governments and the FCT which offered to underwrite the WAEC-modulated examination for the students. That’s not allabout the plethora of losses. Another N488,536,000 would also have been lost by the unsuccessful candidates who had to pay N500 each to access their poor results online via a customized WAEC scratch card.
That wouldn’t be much of a heartbreak to many really. Well, maybe with the Exception of the DFID which has committed a whopping £105.9 million to improve learning outcomes in six states of Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara and Lagos under its Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) between 2008 and 2014, and another £36 million on teachers’ development project beginning from 2012 and ending in 2018.
Between 2003 and 2010, an average of 78.65 percent of candidates who wrote the May/June WASSCE emerged from the examination without at least five credit passes including English Language and Mathematics.
The last four years have not been impressive either. The percentages of failure recorded in the past four years range from 69 % in 2010, 44.66% in 2011, 61.19% in 2012 and 35.74% in 2013, up to a scandalous 70% in 2014.
In Lagos where billions of World Bank intervention funds were said to have gone into training both the teachers and their wards, 82 percent of the students who sat for the 2009 May/June WASSCE failed while 21,193 out of the 51,604 students who sat for the 2013 WASSCE, had credits in five subjects. That translates into 41.06 percent pass rate, and a 2.06 percent marginal improvement on the 39 percent recorded by the state in 2012.
Well, maybe its time to rethink the education sector program initiatives in Nigeria really. If nothing else, at least it will rein in the profligacy by state governments and give way for new campaigns like the DFID is doing currently with the Developing Effective Private Education in Nigeria [DEPEN] project in Lagos now.
After all, more than 60 percent of pupils in Lagos State who are enrolled in those unregulated and unrecognized low cost private schools also deserve some intervention to boost learning outcomes among them.

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