The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila, says there is a need for Nigeria to build a resilent education system to guarantee uninterupted learning, even in difficult times.
Gbajabiamila made the statement at the launch of “Back to School Jump Start Project” on Friday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the project was a collaboration between the Office of the Speaker and the National Lottery Trust Fund to digitise teaching and learning in schools.
The Speaker, represented by Rep. Ademorin Kuye (APC-Shomolu), said the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown in 2020 impacted education negatively.
He said many students were shut out of school during the COVID-19 lockdown as they could not access learning owing to poor digital infrastructure in schools.
Gbajabiamila said the Jump-Start Project, therefore, aims at digitising the teaching and learning process and inculcating a culture of basic hygiene in schools across the nation.
“The reason for tagging the first leg of the Jump-Start project as “No School Left Behind in Surulere” is to address the widening of the educational disadvantage heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the health implications of the pandemic are all too obvious, its consequences for education are subtle, but nonetheless, devastating.
.“For students in Nigerian public schools, the lockdown in 2020 was a huge setback.
“Thus, the Jump Start Project is designed to mitigate the disadvantages caused by the lack of digital infrastructure in public schools, as well as ensure that there are no breaks in teaching and learning in the event of future pandemics”, he said.
The Speaker desscribed education as the best possible investment in people, saying “It is the silver bullet that lifts people out of poverty, encourages a broader perspective that expands their worldview”.
He said the National Assembly was committed to building back a better and stronger education system, resistant to the eventualities of the “new normal”.
Gbajabiamila also said he was personally committed to improving the lives and livelihoods of his constituents through education.
The Speaker commended the National Lottery Trust Fund and the Social Impact Healthcare and Education Foundation (SHE) for partnering his office on the project.
He said the first phase of the project would see 46 junior and senior schools in Surulere 1 Federal Constituency recieving E-learning equipment such as laptops, android tablets, phones, stationery and sanitation materials.
“As you are aware, the project should span the six geo-political zones, and it is our fervent wish that the National Lottery Trust Fund will support the project to achieve this objective and achieve our goals”, he added.
He thanked the people of Surulere for their consistent support, promising that he would continue to redeem his electoral promise to deliver democratic dividends in the area.
In his speech, Dr George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, thanked the National Lottery Trust Fund and Gbajabiamila for coming up with the project.
Akume, represented by Dr Bello Maigari, Executive Secretary, National Lottery Trust Fund, said the project was in line with the Federal Government’s commitment to boost the learning capacity of students through the use of technology.
“Today’s event underscores the commitment and determination and promise of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to improve the capacity of students to learn and excel in their studies”, he said.
Akume said the government would continue everything necessary to improve the standard of education in the country.
He warned all lottery licencees to settle their liabilities with the fund or risk the revocation of their licences.
In his remarks, Maigari commended Gbajabiamila for partnering with the fund on the project.
Maigari, whose speech was read by Mr Sule Tegina, said the project would boost the capacity of schools in the area of digital teaching, learning and sanitation.
“The programme, which seeks to help improve the current capacity of schools in the area of good hygiene practice through the provision of basic sanitary and standard modern teaching and modern learning aids for promoting standard, is in tandem with global practice”, he said.
He said the mandate of the fund was to take custody of 20 per cent of national lottery and gaming operations to execute development projects.
NAN reports that benefitting schools were presented with e-learning devices, sanitation materials as well as a cheque of N100,000 each at the programme.
Officials of the National Lottery Trust Fund later proceeded to Gbaja Maternal and Child Care Centre in Surulere, where they presented some medical equipment to the facility in conjunction with the Office of the Speaker.