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Kogi mulls partnership with private sector to drive free education



The Kogi State government led by Yahaya Bello has said that its declaration of free education from basic to secondary school level in the state was not a ‘sudden decision’.

Recall that in September, the Kogi governor announced that education would be free for all indigenes, including WAEC, NECO, and JAMB exams, but the administration hadbeen criticised for introducing the policy just a few months before the end of its tenure.

But Special Adviser to the governor on economy, finance and investment, Abdulkareem Siyaka, said the administration was simply saving the best for the last.

In his words, “Don’t act surprised because the governor made the public announcement only recently, it’s not a sudden decision. It’s important to note that we’ve been strategizing this initiative for some time. In fact, my presence here in Lagos today is a testament to our ongoing planning efforts.”

Siyaka also disclosed that the government of Kogi had a 10-year master plan for human capacity development in the state, and was exploring potential partnerships with leading private schools based in Lagos, along with an education technology company, Edves.

He revealed this during a guided tour of some primary and secondary schools, including Vivian Fowler Memorial College for Girls, Divine Offspring primary school, and Dansol High School, all in the Ikeja area of Lagos State on Thursday.

“It is not enough to declare free education. We do not plan to stop at that, how do we sustain it? Who are those that will partner with us to make it work? What technology will drive it? That is why we are engaging Edves,” said Siyaka.

“We have over 2000 public schools in Kogi, and about 45% of them are unity schools. We have over 800,000 youths who require skills to become more useful in the workplace, and we really want to invest in training facilitators, curriculum development, staff hiring, internet connection, and all of these involve cost.

“This is why we are actively seeking partnerships and resource providers, with a strong focus on sustainability to drive long-term productivity within the framework of our 10-year plan.”

The schools visited by the Special Adviser were active users of the learning management technology by Edves, and the head teachers of each of the schools attested to the user-friendliness and record-keeping abilities of the platform, saying that it has made teaching and learning processes much easier.

READ ALSO:Yahaya Bello signs bill establishing Kogi 3rd varsity

Mrs. Naimat Ishola, head of school, Divine Offspring School, stated that their group of schools has for two years integrated the Edves Suite into their system and both parents and pupils also benefit from the technology.

“With one click, parents can access their child’s results and all that needs to be seen about their academic journey. Parents can also pay their fees through the platform. The technology has truly made our work easier,” said Ishola.

This position was also maintained by head teacher of Vivian Fowler Memorial College for Girls, Mrs. Krishman Niyatha, who added that parents and guardians could easily monitor the progress of their wards in different academic subjects as they access the platform.

At Dansol, the Executive Director, Mrs. Omotara Olanitori said the Edves Suite helps the school to manage day-to-day activities in the schools including attendance and personalized learning, adding that the technology helps them keep records, both health and academic records, ensuring that teachers are not heavily dependent on paper works.

Speaking to newsmen during the tour, co-founder and COO, Edves, Mr. Dare Adebayo disclosed the reason the firm was looking to secure partnership with the Kogi State government.

“At present, we serve more than 1,600 schools across 10 African countries, and this year, we’ve begun onboarding schools in the UK”.

When asked about the rationale behind partnering with Kogi, Adebayo explained, “We have primarily worked with private schools. While we are currently conducting pilot tests with around 20 government schools, we believe that our successful track record with private institutions positions us to replicate this success in public schools.

“We have developed an executive dashboard that will enable government officials, such as the Governor, Commissioner or Minister of Education, or even the President, to access real-time information from their desks. This includes data on student attendance in specific local governments on a particular day, as all schools will be marking attendance. It allows monitoring of students’ presence, their coursework, identifies areas where students may be struggling, tracks the number of teachers in schools, and provides a comprehensive overview of students’ academic performance on a weekly basis,” he added.

Adebayo, one of the co-founders of the company along with CEO Dimeji Falana, concluded by emphasizing that their team was presenting proposals to states in Nigeria, with Kogi being the first to show interest.

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