Conditions of schools: SERAP challenges Lagos Governor over spending on education

A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has requested the Lagos State Govornor, Babatunde Fashola to “urgently provide detailed and up-to-date information on the spending relating to public primary and secondary education in the state for the past years.”

The group also asked the governor to “rescind the suspension of anyone including principals of schools, for blowing the whistle or allowing journalists to cover the delay infrastructures and facilities across public primary and secondary schools in Lagos.”

This followed reports of delay in infrastructure and facilities across public schools in the state. The group said that it would “take appropriate legal actions” to compel the government if it fails to comply “within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.”

In the Freedom of Information petition dated 30 November 2013 and signed by SERAP Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the group said that, “SERAP is seriously concerned about decay in infrastructure in public primary and secondary schools across the State including Ewutuntun Grammar School in Mafoluku area of Oshodi; Ikeja Grammar School; Iloro Grammar School in Agege; and Fagba Junior Grammar School, Iju Road.”

“Many pupils in these and other schools continue to sit on the bare floor in some classes while lessons are going on. The classrooms are overcrowded with several broken chairs and desks. Pupils are also reportedly forced to work to repair broken chairs and desks, something which would amount to forced labour,” the group said.

Students of Ajangbadi Junior High School, Iba

The group also expressed “concern about reports that rather than genuinely address the debilitating problem of infrastructure across public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State, your government has suspended some teachers and principals who blew the whistle or facilitated access to the schools mentioned above.”

The group noted that, “education at the basic level is one of the most important targets of the Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs). We believe that without transparency and accountability on the spending of education funds, the goal will remain unrealized for millions of Nigerian children.”

“SERAP is bringing this request pursuant to the enacted Freedom of Information Act, which is directly applicable to your state. The Act among others aims to make public records and information more freely available, and makes provisions for public access to public records and information. Section of the Act grants the right to access or request information, which is in the custody of any public official, agency or institution,” the group also said.

According to the group, “Under Section 1 (2) “an applicant under this Act needs not demonstrate any specific interest in the information being applied for.” We believe that it is in the public interest that the information requested is provided. The information requested is not covered by the exemptions under the Act.”

SERAP is therefore requesting you to provide detailed and up-to-date information on:
1.    The spending for the past five years on the furniture in public secondary schools in the state, including Ewutuntun Grammar School in Mafoluku area of Oshodi; Ikeja Grammar School; Iloro Grammar School in Agege; and Fagba Junior Grammar School, Iju Road.
2.    The spending of the World Bank loan of $90 million to improve education in the 639 public secondary schools in the state.
3.    Details of projects carried out to improve infrastructure and facilities across primary and secondary education in Lagos State. For example, information should be provided on the breakdown of the amount spent on: infrastructural development, including classrooms’ construction and renovation; purchase; renovation or rehabilitation of furniture; acquisition of laboratory/workshop equipment; borehole construction as well as construction of toilets; school feeding programme, caring for the physically/mentally challenged children; and training and re-training of teachers.

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