The Spelling Bee Competition held yearly for secondary school pupils across Lagos State has left lasting legacy and positive footprints on education in the State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on Wednesday.
The Governor said the competition, since inception in 2000, had promoted access to quality learning, which offered secondary school pupils from humble backgrounds an opportunity to be on the same education pedestal with their mates from rich homes.
He said the English language competition had come of age, transforming lives through revolutionary changes it brought to public speaking and vocabulary spelling.
Sanwo-Olu spoke at the official handover of 10,000 units of Spelling Bee dictionaries freely distributed to public schools across the State by New Era Foundation, the organiser of the Spelling Bee Contest.
The Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation, is the pet project of the former First Lady of the State, Oluremi Tinubu, who is now a third-term lawmaker representing Lagos Central Senatorial District.
The Governor and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, personally took delivery of the education materials from Senator Tinubu at an event held at the State House in Alausa.
Sanwo-Olu said: “The story of the New Era Foundation has been revolutionary in the education sector since its inception.
“I have personally been part of the New Era Foundation family for decades and I’m opportune to witness how this simple seed germinated to transform the lives of young people through education and value reorientation.
“The Foundation has trained and mentored several young people who have excelled excellently in various fields of knowledge.
“There have been several First Class graduates that have been produced from this simple intervention of the Spelling Bee Competition, giving them opportunity to showcase their knowledge in different parts of the world.
“Through this project, many young people from various humble backgrounds have had opportunity to transform their lives and business environment.
“We will continue to appreciate the progress this novel idea that our mother has brought to us in education in the last 20 years.”
Sanwo-Olu described the Senator as “a caring mother” in Lagos education family, reiterating his administration’s commitment to working with the Foundation to further initiate actions that will help the Government to solve challenges bedeviling education in the State.
He said the State Government would continue to create development opportunities for public school pupils, adding that public speaking and diction tasks would be bolstered across schools to imbue confidence in students in Government schools.
Sanwo-Olu praised the former First Lady for the donation of the dictionaries, saying English learning remained a strong tool that could define what students become in future.
He said: “The donation is simple but historic.
“This is another demonstration of Senator Tinubu’s love for our children and education system.
“We will see the footprints of this intervention both in primary and secondary schools, because English learning is a strong tool that can define what students become in future.”
Tinubu gave a pass mark to the Sanwo-Olu Administration on teachers’ training and retraining, saying the effort had improved the delivery of quality education in Lagos.
The lawmaker said the Spelling Bee contest was not the Foundation’s only intervention initiated in education in Lagos.
She said the NGO had supported Lagos State Government in school renovation and provision of learning materials and laboratory equipment.
She said: “I must commend the Administration under the leadership of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the stride achieved in education within a short period.
“It is worthy of mention that the training and retraining of teachers has boosted morale and improve service delivery.
“This effort and many other interventions by successive administrations have improved academic rating of our public schools.”
Tinubu urged the Government to beam a special focus on education to prevent the Coronavirus pandemic from eroding the progress recorded since 1999.
The timing of the dictionaries’ donation, the lawmaker said, coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Foundation and the Spelling Bee Competition, pointing out that the NGO has been nurturing young people to lead social change and achieve their potential through targeted education and leisure activities.
She said: “Today, we are donating 10,000 copies of the Spelling Bee Dictionary to the State Government.
“The dictionary contains all words used in the Spelling Bee competition from its inception to date.
“It is our hope that it will help improve vocabularies and dictions of the public school children.”
Tinubu urged wealthy citizens and corporate organisations to partner with the Government to ensure essential requirements needed in the education sector are provided, stressing that the responsibility of educating the society must not be left to the Government alone.
Boluwatife Tijani, a student of Vetland Senior Grammar School in Agege, expressed words of appreciation to Senator Tinubu on behalf of public school children in the State.
The dictionaries comprise words being used in primary and secondary classes.
Other top Government officials at the event included the Chief of Staff, Tayo Ayinde; Commissioner for Education, Folashade Adefisayo; Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso; Special Adviser on Education, Hon. Tokunbo Wahab; and Chairman of State Universal Basic Education Board, Hon. Wahab Alawiye-King.