Lagos - Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Thursday said the state government had commenced a process to connect 172 public schools in the state to the solar power.
Fashola made the remark at the presentation of corporate social responsibility awards to 424 individuals, civil society groups and corporate bodies, for their contributions to primary and secondary schools in the state.
"One of the things that have failed primary and secondary schools in Lagos state is regular and uninterrupted electricity supply.
"We have engaged another strategic partnership with the Dfid Engineering Company; we are putting solar panel packs in 172 schools in the first phase.
"When we successfully complete that phase, we will continue school by school.
"We will ensure that each school has its own power.
"About 20 of those schools have been completed.
"Government Secondary School, Meiran, has commissioned its own power, the power serves the school dormitory and hostels," he said.
Fashola said the "support a school project" became necessary because government now has more schools to manage, than they had in the past, when government was doing more of regulation.
He said the state had also increased that education budget to 16.8 per cent in 2015, but still needs more support from its partners.
"Today is a day to say thank you.
"Some of you I never met, but you have supported our schools. It is not because of me that you have supported our schools, but because of our children.
"The state budget increases year in year out; we have increased education budget from 15 per cent in 2014 to 16.8 in 2015.
"The 2015 budget is facing revenue funding challenges because it is no longer a secret that our oil resources have reduced.
"Many states cannot pay salaries; Lagos is not one of those states that cannot pay salaries," he said.
Fashola said the public confidence in public schools had also increased.
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"An independent polls commission shows that as at December 2014, 52 per cent of Lagos residents enrolled their children in public primary schools.
"Sixty-one per cent have their children in public secondary schools. We have similar indices in our health system."
Access Bank Plc, Julius Berger Nig. Plc, Budhrani Charitable Trust, Lion's club, Nigerian Bottling Company, OANDO Foundation, MTN Nigeria and CAPL Plc. were among the awardees.
Mr Akinwale Goodluck, Corporate Service Executive, MTN Communications Ltd., said Lagos State had distinguished itself in receiving corporate social responsibility.
Goodluck said Lagos was a key market for MTN thus, the need to do a lot of corporate social responsibility for the state.
"Lagos is not the only place where we do business; but in other states, we are unable to do anything because there is a complete absence of structure.
"We found that the Lagos environment is conducive, and we thank the state government for providing the enabling environment for our company to operate," he said.
Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye, Lagos State Commissioner for Education, said the ministry would focus more on primary and technical education in 2015.
Oladunjoye said the support our school initiative is aimed at revamping the state educational system through the active participation of individuals, organisations and civil society groups.
She said 1,009 primary schools, 348 junior secondary and 327 senior secondary schools and five technical colleges had benefited from the support our school project.
Mr Olawunmi Gasper, Chairman of the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board, said there was increase in the enrolment in technical colleges, in the past five years.
Gasper said eight years ago, nobody was interested in technical education, but through the support of MTN, things had changed.
"Technical education has made a real difference in lives of countless young people nationwide; it builds self confidence and leadership skills by allowing students to be self employed," he said.
He called for more support in the area of youth innovation and enterprise, to drive entrepreneurship and reduce unemployment.