Nigeria: 'Lasgems Will Boost Students' Academic Records, Database If Govt Embraces Justice'

16 June 2021
interview

Mr. Abayomi Erogbogbo is the inventor of the Lagos State Government Education Management Systems, and MD/CEO Applied Services Limited. He explained to some journalists, including Funmi Ogundare the impact the system has made over the years in ensuring a comprehensive electronic database of students' administrative and academic records and why the state government must embrace justice in the interest of schools and students.

What are the benefits of the Lagos State Government Education Management Systems (LASGEMS) to schools?

LASGEMS is positioned to enhance the state's internally generated revenue and widen the tax-net knowingly or unknowingly now flaunted as new aims. The benefits include quality data management for improved school administration and education sector governance, as problem solving is daily and evolving. From the statutory functions, the benefits are lifetime that would outlive all of us as sustainably implemented from 2005/2006. Prudent management from first collaborative external examination registration activated for government public school WASSCE candidates and significantly reduced annual sponsored from over 110,000 to less than 47,000. An average of N500 million has been saved annually, over N4 billion in nine years from 2007 until abruptly suspended in 2016. Other benefits are improvement in public school WASSCE results by blocking repeaters, less of distractions, improved discipline, students no longer invisible to government and school managers, same with age limit events and sport competitors. A major benefit to private schools is the ability to minimise school fees debts through seamless controlled student transfer management and admissions ensuring safe investments. The public and private schools involved would process the student request and approval transactions online real-time in compliance with statutory requirement.

As it is, school owners and managers have highly commended it because it will bring about comprehensive student tracking, monitoring and up-to-date records maintaining statutory government databases, seamlessly complemented with change delayed, but eventually implemented modules that abolished use of manual school registers, curriculum, scheme of work booklets for virtual solutions from 2014/2015 and transformed teachers to online real-time digital users. There is also the automated continuous assessment scores, instant broad sheets and stress free students report cards. We have been able to retrain about 1,000 private schools free in February 2015 on the enhancements.

How optimistic are you that the statutory LASGEMS would be restored by the state government?

The innovation remains Lagos ingenuity, a weighty education management backbone. I am optimistic that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu would rise above bureaucratic impediments and push for the statutory LASGEMS continuity, considering exposed facts of last two years, some given under oath. The buck stops with the governor to allow for fairness and amicable solutions since the contractual arbitration option has been tactically frustrated by the new ministry of justice leadership that amazingly believes in mainly defending sister ministries above other considerations, and the arbitral tribunal reference closed.

Education governance, schools, students, parents and service provider remain victims until justifiably reversed. It's worrisome that it could drag for this long with the sitting deputy governor, part of the implementation supervisory team as the Commissioner for Science and Technology 2005 to 2011 that witnessed the launch of the change project, moved from 2005/2006 strategic data recovery start-up solution to LASGEMS web-based online real-time system 2009/2010, signed subsisting contract agreement in June 2009 and in the know of project performance obstacles and traps survived by service provider. The dispute is combination of successful change resisting intrigues, deliberate contract misinterpretation and software intellectual property rights challenges contrived by ministry of education and ministry of science and technology, misrepresenting facts to paint success as failure. By implications, denying the state continuous statutory benefits and mutilating her legacy achievements.

Why do you think the present administration is reluctant to continue with LASGEMS?

The reluctance is disturbing in view of being blessed with more informed leadership team. The administration laments dearth of data, yet LASGEMS legacy solutions remain on hold. At a loss with the intentions, may be playing on time again. We alerted the leadership in April 2015 of concealed government officials training on replicated LASGEMS functions by Eko Project team, mistreated for the problematic demand to handover LASGEMS intellectual property software using contractual payment as bait, which we resisted. It was however Inherited by 2015/2019 administration that abruptly placed the partnership on hold and the system usage was interrupted from 2015/2016 with over 2.6 million lifetime statutory student records maintained, desirous to replace LASGEMS with an aberration labelled LASPIN that failed to see light of the day.

The dispute was eventually resolved in March 2019, the state governor approved the ministry of justice mediation prayers partially implemented before May 29. Unfortunately reneged by current administration with renewed hostilities by ministry of education, disregarding fairness and frustrating all options including a noble wind-up closure option in view of obvious takeover ambitions prejudiced by business or heroic interests. At the early stage of this administration, the deputy governor told me on phone that he is not responsible for the renewed challenges and unbelievably thereafter blocked my phone number, implying full awareness and supporting the misrepresentations based on my past experiences. He was part of a June 2010 meeting that prevented Governor Fashola from formally commissioning LASGEMS web-based system at a date fixed for June 2010 with the reason that private schools had not been trained, putting the cart before the horse. He apologised to me end of 2007/2011 tenure for all experienced project slow-down obstacles, shifted blames to the then deputy governor as his boss. The leadership is yet to call a truce meeting on this crucial statutory state matter while key officials responsible for continued misinformation rewarded by stakeholder ministry.

What are these statutory functions?

In summary, the statutory functions are that LASGEMS is able to maintain a lifetime comprehensive electronic database of student administrative and academic records with respective history of changes and movements, in both public and private primary, junior and senior secondary schools operating in Lagos State, including contact information of parents, guardians and sponsors. Other functions are: assigning school codes in that it assigns unique one-time lifetime Student Personal Identification Number (SPIN) for every pupil/student for use in all school categories, manages student disciplinary actions and controls, provide student transfer management services making government the instant statutory clearing house for all transfers, as well as register students for external examinations, etc, as gazetted LASGEMS May 2007.

What step have you taken to resolve the dispute?

To me, Lagos State is more important than individual interests and benefits. I have in the last two weeks again appealed to our revered governor for amicable solution and for the second time escalated to Lagos House of Assembly for germane intervention being a paused operative statutory matter. I do not want to believe in the rumour that I am being deliberately denied.

What advice do you have for the government?

The administration avoids mentioning the education management legacy backbone, concentrates on added teaching solutions. Ten per cent of such executive support will ensure LASGEMS generalisation state-wide in six months for public and private schools, implied data gap would also be bridged. There has been a proliferation of various systems in public schools and the education sector in general legally unknown to the state which is harmful to government policies. I believe true collaboration and partnership is the way to go. I pray for the state leadership not to serve in vain and inventor/service provider not to work or to have worked in vain. I am optimistic the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu would embrace justice in the interest of the state, schools, students, service provider's receivables.

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