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CSTC Connect Series: Stakeholders harp on quality education to drive societal change

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Member, Corona Schools Trust Council, Mr. Kunle Adebajo (left); CEO CSTC Mrs. Adeyoyin Adesina; Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo; former Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, and Chairman, CSTC, Hon. Justice Bukunola Adebiyi at the first edition of the Corona Connect Series

Goal four of the 17 United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals is on the need for a child to get quality education. According to the UN campaign for quality education, obtaining a quality education is the foundation to creating sustainable development.

In addition to improving quality of life, access to inclusive education can also help equip locals with the tools required to develop innovative solutions to the world’s greatest problems. The United Nations Children Funds (UNCF) formerly called the United Nations Children Emergency Funds (UNICEF) has revealed that one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria.

It further revealed that even though primary education is officially free and compulsory in Nigeria, about 10.5 million of Nigeria’s children aged 5 to 14 years are not in school, only 61 per cent of 6 to 11-year-olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 per cent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education.

Overcoming the aforementioned challenges, which is believed can be achieved through effective partnership among all stakeholders that would eventually improve the nation’s educational quality and system, was the center of focus at the Corona Schools’ Trust Council maiden edition of its Corona Connect Series with theme: “Quality Education: An Imperative for Social Change” and with sub-theme: Sustainability Channels for Economic Empowerment-A Spotlight on Education.

The well-attended seminar, which held at the expansive hall of The Podium, Lekki, Lagos last week Thursday, had in attendance renowned educationist, former Executive Director, Corona Schools’ Trust Council (CSTC) and currently the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo. Aside from being keynote speaker, she equally represented the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the event. Other dignitaries at the event were Member, Corona Schools Trust Council, Mr. Kunle Adebajo; CEO CSTC, Mrs. Adeyoyin Adesina; former Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, and Chairman, CSTC, Hon. Justice Bukunola Adebiyi.

In her opening remark, Adesina described the moment as a proud one for the school, which has been in existence for over five decades to be championing the cause for the advancement of education and social economic development in Nigeria. She described the series as a thought- provoking relationship for education and social economic wellbeing.

According to her, the aim of the series is to “make a connection for an enabler that not only drives innovation in the classroom but in the nation as well. She said: “Over the last three decades, we have witnessed a number of changes in the education landscape in Nigeria. The sector has not been immune to the economic downturn in the nation characterised by poverty, unemployment rate, rising debt profile, high inflation rate, low human population index, unfavourable trade relations and the like.

“It is arguable that the poor quality of education has led to this issue or vice-versa. However, Nigeria is a great country. We at Corona believe in Nigeria, and with greatness, come great expectations.

“Education has no doubt been the worst hit with little attention, little innovation or investment made to the sector. Teachers’ quality is on the decline, and we hear mind-bogging numbers of out-of- school children. These are big, complex and national issues on education to contend with, hence the relevance of this series,” she added.

Adesina concluded by calling on all stakeholders in the education sector, “government, practitioners and investors, to rethink education and commit to the implementation of the redesigned framework that have real potential, to impact social and economic development in Nigeria”, using quality education as a bait.

“Everyone in the private and public sector need to rally round, work with the government and do what we can to transform education and bring about the desired change that we want to see.

Corona slogan is “A Legacy of World-Class Education,” and it is because we want to sustain a quality track-record and that was why we embarked on this programme because it is not about us as an institution but about how we can move forward as a nation.”

In his goodwill message, Governor Sanwo-Olu noted that, “Education is a potent tool of empowerment and human capital development. It opens the doors for socio-economic development and also for the larger transformation in societies and nations.”

He concluded that to attain the social change and economic transformation being demanded, “it is imperative, therefore, that we pay undivided attention to improving our educational sector and turning it around both in terms of the content of our syllabus, and the introduction of ICT in order to help the younger generation meet up with the rising demands of the digital age.”

Speaking on the efforts being made by the Lagos State government towards quality education and returning out-of-school children to the classrooms, Adefisayo said the government is currently focused on introducing ICT into the school curriculum, reviewing the school learning syllabus, training and massive recruitment of teachers.

“Quality education is very imperative. It is going to drive social change in the country. With quality education, then you will have people who can make the change that we need for this country to move forward. I am glad to say that the government of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has actually decided to make education a focus area. And he is putting his money in that space, not just saying it. He is also doing everything necessary. So by his THEME agenda, the E there is Education and Technology, which understands the need to integrate technology into education. Another area of education we are focusing on is infrastructure.

She added: “Teachers’ development is also part of it, because a system cannot rise above the level of its teachers. So we must invest significantly in teachers and not just in terms of their quality, but quantity. We are embarking on an exercise to recruit and keep recruiting teachers as they leave, so that there would be no gap. And train them as well. In summary, we are addressing where we teach, we are addressing who teachers are, and then we are addressing what we teach. We are really working hard on all these and you would soon start hearing a lot of good news from Lagos State.”

In his remarks, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah stressed on the importance of returning to the basics. According to him: “if you look at what is missing in our country today, you would agree with me that we need to return to the basics, we need to produce good leadership, reinstate good values, and frankly to build a society that would be globally competitive again. And to achieve this, the most important thing is to ensure that the stakeholders are working together, just like this Corona Connect Series is trying to do.

“Hence, government needs to be working with people in the education space, investors, financiers and philanthropies, civil societies and parents to ensure that we are all working together to improve education because the situation is quite desperate in the country today.”

The Chairman CSTC, Hon. Justice Bukunola Adebiyi noted that educating youths is very imperative to the social development of Nigeria. She also noted that the consequences of ignorance are more expensive as compared to the cost for a quality education.

“Educating our youth, leaders and ourselves is very imperative to the social development of Nigeria. Definitely, we cannot move without education.  And as the largest country in Africa in terms of population, we have a lot to contribute, and we have a teeming population of very intelligent people whom, if given the opportunity, would be able to contribute positively to the growth of this country. Education is necessary and it is only vehicle that would move us forward as a country and as a nation,” he declared.


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