The era of public primary schools in Lagos State not having power supply may be coming to an end if the Lagos State Ministry of Education is able to sort out debts being owed by many of its schools.
Education Commissioner, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo called on the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to cooperate with the Ministry to solve perennial power issues in many public schools in the state.
An investigation by The Nation last December revealed that many of the state’s 1,016 primary schools have had their power cut off because of non-payment of outstanding bills. They were forced to rely on generators to pump water, a vital requirement for safeguarding against COVID-19. Fueling the generators came from meagre running cost, which many head teachers complained was insufficient.
Responding to a question on what the state was doing about the power issue in schools during the 2021 Ministerial Press Conference held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre last Friday, Mrs. Adefisayo said the ministry had directed the Lagos State Infrastructure Management Agency (LASIAMA) to retrieve the bills from the schools and manage them forthwith.
Lamenting the outstanding bill burden, Mrs. Adefisayo appealed to the holding company to negotiate with the ministry to reduce the amount payable.
She said: “A lot of them (schools) do not have power; and that is why we are working with facilities management department (LASIAMA). One of the first things they have to do is to collect outstanding bills from PHCN. The outstanding bills are an incredible amount. We hope we will be able to discuss with PHCN. I have never seen PHCN climb down but we just hope that they will look us with some compassion because the bills are indeed unprecedented. We are negotiating. But going forward we are paying for bills wherever we have them, especially in our Government Technical Colleges.”
She said that the Babajide Sanwo-Olu -led administration would continue to invest in inputs that would improve quality education, including new school buildings, improved infrastructure, recruitment and training of teachers.
She said in the last two years, over 1,097projects had been inaugurated in 970 schools across the 20 Local Government Areas of the state. These include the rehabilitation of 322 dilapidated schools, provision of 87,000 units of dual-composite furniture for 775 primary and secondary schools; construction of 300 additional classrooms and seven new hostels blocks, among others.
“We are building more schools and ensuring proper management of these structures because we believe that our children can only learn in a conducive environment,” she said.