Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Thursday launched the “Project Zero”, aimed at tracking and returning over 21,000 pupils, who abandoned primary schools as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor said in Lagos that those being tracked would also include pupils, whose parents had relocated in the aftermath of COVID-19.
Project Zero is an initiative deployed to tackle the menace of out-of-school children by supporting and re-enrolling children who are out of school or on the verge of dropping out of school.
The initiative, being executed in partnership with Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), is designed to trace, mobilise and support children who have dropped out of school due to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, said that the initiative would also bring pupils on the brink of dropping out back to school.
“Our activities shall commence with the tracking and identification of children who have dropped out or with a high risk of dropping out of school.
“They will be supported with necessary relief items, including school uniforms, school sandals, two pairs of socks and writing materials,” he said
Sanwo-Olu said that the Project Zero initiative would drive excellence in learning for about 500,000 pupils across 1,016 public primary schools, with the input of more highly skilled and technologically savvy teachers.
He said that the state government had also recruited additional 2,000 teachers to bridge the perceptible gap in the teacher-to-pupil ratio.
He also said that infrastructural upgrade and renovation projects were currently underway across all state schools, among other ongoing educational reforms.
The governor commended private institutions for delivering globally competitive educational service through deployment of the needed technology and enhancement of teacher quality and continuous capacity building.
In her remarks, the Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, said that the objective of the Sanwo-Olu-administration was that every child in Lagos State should be able to read, right from Primary One.
Adefisayo stressed that no child should be denied education, noting that a hoodlum was the product of a failed society or system.
She, therefore, called on private organisations to partner with government in ensuring that no child was out of school.
Also speaking, the Chairman, House Committee on Education, Assemblyman Yinka Ogundimi, urged parents and teachers to be up and doing in educating their children and wards.
He pledged that government would continue to make and implement policies that would deliver quality education in the state.
“The bedrock of education is primary education; so be assured that we will do more to set good example and deliver on our set objectives,” he said.
Earlier, in his address of welcome, Mr Wahab Alawiye-King, the Chairman of LASUBEB, said that quality education was every child’s right, backed by national and international laws.
“However, in spite of the government’s efforts, several socio-economic factors still stand between our efforts and the desired results,” he said.
The chairman, therefore, commended government and private institutions for their efforts to ensure that no child of school age remained out of school.