Commissioners of Education as well as their Budget and Planning counterparts with other top government functionaries, private school associations and others in the Southwest gathered on Tuesday at the Park Inn Hotel in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, to discuss the success stories of a programme sponsored by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Developing Effective Private Education Nigeria (DEEPEN).
It is expected to wind down in August.
At the gathering, DFID’s Southwest Regional Coordinator, David Ukagwu, and DEEPEN Team Leader, Dr Gboyega Ilusanya, as well as other team members shared their experiences.
They recalled how, through the five-year programme implemented in Lagos State, the government got statistics on over 18,000 private schools operating in the state and saved billions of naira it would have spent educating over 1.4 million learners.
The team also shared how the government built the capacity of low-cost private schools serving the poor to improve their schools and attracted finance as well as linked them up with service providers to enable them achieve same.
Present were Kwara State Education Commissioner Mrs Bilkisu Oniyangi, her counterpart in Ogun State, Mrs Modupe Mujota; Commissioners for Budget and Planning in Osun and Kwara states, Dr Olalekan Yinusa and Mr Odewale Wasiu.
There were representatives from Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo states who were urged to learn from the Lagos experience and establish partnership with private sector education providers, particularly low-cost schools with the aim of providing access to quality education among Nigerian children.
Ukagwu said the DFID, through the programme, was showing the Nigerian government what was possible through judicious use of funds.
He said the DFID was “supporting the government of Nigeria to efficiently use its own resources to provide basic services for citizens”.
Ilusanya said with research showing that 21 per cent of children living in cities across the world attend private schools, it was important that government steps in to provide an enabling environment for the schools to thrive and set up effective modalities to regulate their activities to deliver quality education.
A former President of Association for Formidable Educational Development (AFED), the foremost umbrella of low-cost private school associations, Mrs Esther Dada, attested to how DEEPEN had been promoting a cordial relationship with the Lagos State government.
She said the group was involved in the state’s policy meetings, addressed multiple taxation and provided access to finance and capacity building for its members.
Representatives of the various states promised to work more closely with low-cost private schools operating in their domains.
Mr Oluseye Oyeleye, the Director-General of DAWN Commission, the body sponsored by governments of Southwestern to promote regional development, urged states to act on the lessons they learnt at the event.
Aid: “Whatever you learnt, find a way of implementing it. What we do is to write the political leaders on things we think will work in their states. You can write to us to do the work for you, if you think they may not listen to you.”