Creator of the Lagos State Government Education Management Systems (LASGEMS), Mr. Abayomi Erogbogbo, is calling on the government to embrace the initiative, which it signed into law in 2007 but suspended in 2016. In this interview, he tells KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE its relevance.

You are so confident about LASGEMS. What makes the system unique?

LASGEMS provides quality data management for improved school administration and education sector governance. 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. It saved average of N500 million annually, and over N4billion in nine years from 2007 until abruptly suspended in 2016. It improved WASSCE results public schools by blocking repeaters, reducing distractions; it improved discipline as students were no longer invisible to government and school managers.

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 two schools involved would process the student request and approval transactions online real-time in compliance with statutory requirement.

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. Automated continuous assessment scores, instant broad sheets and student report cards stress free. Retrained about 1,000 private schools free in February 2015 on the enhancements.

What are the statutory functions of LASGEMS?

In summary, maintain 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; assign school codes; assign unique one-time lifetime Student Personal Identification Number (SPIN) for every pupil/student for use in all school categories; manage student disciplinary actions and controls. It also provides student transfer management services making government the instant statutory clearing house for all transfers; registers students for external examinations, etc. as gazetted LASGEMS May 2007.

With its suspension in 2016, how optimistic are you that the Lagos State government would restore LASGEMS?

The innovation remains Lagos ingenuity, a weighty education management backbone. I am optimistic 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 Mr. Governor to allow for fairness and amicable solutions since the contractual arbitration option has been tactically frustrated by the new ministry of justice leadership. Education governance, schools, students, parents and service provider remain victims until justifiably reversed.

It is worrisome that it could drag for this long with the sitting Deputy Governor part of the implementation supervisory team as the Honourable Commissioner for Science and Technology (2005-2011) 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 & Technology, misrepresenting facts to paint success as failure. By implications, denying the state continuous statutory benefits and mutilating her legacy achievements.

Why the reluctance 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.

I 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, we resisted. Inherited by 2015/2019 administration that abruptly placed partnership on hold and system usage 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 March 2019, the State Governor approved the Ministry of Justice mediation prayers partially implemented before May 29. Unfortunately (it was) reneged by current administration with renewed hostilities by ministry of education, disregarding fairness and frustrating all options including a noble wind-up closure option.

Are you making progress resolving 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.