The Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB) has begun tracking about 20,993 pupils in its 1016 primary schools who have not returned to the classroom since schools resumed last month under a new initiative called Project Zero.
The board is depending on head teachers, Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) Education officers, School Based Management Committees (SBMC) and Civil Society Organisations to help identify these pupils.
Speaking at the launch of Project Zero at the LASUBEB headquarters in Maryland last Thursday, the board chairman, Mr. Wahab Alawiye-King said the initiative was part of government’s efforts to keep vulnerable children in school.
“As a government that is determined and passionate to ensure that we increase enrolment, retention and complete rates in our schools, we must ensure that we have a deliberate attempt to bring them back to school. Project Zero initiative will be deployed to trace, mobilise and support children who have dropped out of school due to the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic by engaging critical stakeholders within the basic education space to accelerate support for the initiative,” he said.
‘‘Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Deputy Governor Dr Obafemi Hamzat at the event urged the private sector to support the project, now is our best moment, as government and as private organisations acting as partners in social development, to intensify efforts at ensuring that all our children are in school, irrespective of their socio-economic background. I am particularly proud of this public-private partnership whose primary objective is to reduce out-of-school-children in Lagos State and bring an eventual cessation to the trend, by providing comprehensive help to children on the verge of dropping out of school as a result of COVID-19 and other related economic challenges,” he said.
Education Commissioner, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo said it was important that the future of children who would take over leadership tomorrow is taken care of today. Failure to do so, she said, would lead to breeding hoodlums. Permanent Board Member in charge of social mobilisation Mrs Sijuade Idowu-Tiamiyu said each child
identified under Project Zero would get a back-to-school starter pack that consists of a school bag, uniforms, socks, writing materials, notebooks and sandals and be monitored in school for up to eight weeks. Saying that the board had, however, raised funds for starter packs for only 16 per cent of the number of children yet to return, appealing for support.
Executive Director, Lagos Business Directorate, Wema Bank, Mr. Wole Ajemisimi, said the bank would support between 5,000 -10,000 children under the initiative.
“Our intervention is in terms of millions. We will be able to cover 5,000 to 10,000 children. We are involved because we think that it is touching on the future of our young ones.,” he said