Kenneth Afor |
The Lagos State Government in partnership with First Bank of Nigeria Limited launched a N5 billion post-COVID-19 support fund for low-cost private schools in the state to buffer the economic effect caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was unveiled on Friday at the Banquet Hall in the State House, Alausa.
The fund which will be paid back is expected to reach over 2,000 private schools and vocational education centres who might have had indicated interest of support from the state after due processes with help from the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).
According to the state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in his remarks, the intervention of the was part of the state government’s sustainable solutions to limit the negative effect of the pandemic on businesses as well as residents of the state. impact
The governor is optimistic that the fund would help rejuvenate targeted businesses and, also accelerate the recovery process of businesses in the state even as it is gradually opening up the economy.
“It is no longer debatable that the education is one of the sectors that are severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with schools and vocational learning-centres shut since March when we took the tough decisions meant to disrupt the spread of the virus. Given the incidence of the closure of schools in response to the pandemic, it would not be out of context to note that the challenges presently faced by these schools would increase significantly.
“With access to low-cost funding for privately owned schools and vocational training centres in the state, we are confident that this programme will help accelerate sustainable and painless return to world-class learning and skills acquisition of our young population. As a responsible Government, we are obligated to provide an intervention that would enable learners in these schools’ study in line with the new normal,” said the governor.
Sanwo-Olu hinted that the fund was a foretaste to more human development sector-specific support initiatives that would be unveiled by the state in October adding that the fund was a necessity due to the priority his administration places on education in increasing the human capital development in a 21-century economy in the state.
“It is thus heart-warming to have First Bank of Nigeria electing to be our exemplary partner for this intervention. With their support, players in the education sector would be getting the financial support they need to boost learning at a single-digit interest rate.
“I also commend the Board of LSETF and the management for this significant accomplishment. They have helped the Lagos State Government build an institution that has engendered public trust and elevated the hope of small businesses and young people, irrespective of challenges faced,” Sanwo-Olu said.
According to Mrs Tatiana Mousali-Nouri, who represented the chairperson, LSETF Board of Trustees, schools with a population of more than 100 students and have been in operation for, at least, a year are the ones qualified for the loan facility.
“We are confident that this intervention fund, which is complemented by our free professional and institutional support structures, will ensure that education ecosystem in Lagos witnessed an improvement in the overall learning outcomes for the children, while positively impacting on the local economy through wealth and job creation,” said Mousali-Nouri.
In his address, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, said the Bank partnered with the state due to the enormous role education plays in the growth and development of the economy, appreciating the effort of the government in lifting the burden caused by the pandemic on education in the state.
“With the single-digit funding targeted at about 2,000 low-cost private schools in Lagos, we are delighted to demonstrate our commitment to the development of education in the State, thereby contributing our quota to realise the mandate of the State Government and LSETF on economic growth, opportunities for employment and bridging societal gaps in education,” he said.
The loan scheme will be provided to two categories of applicants, which are Micro-Enterprise (ME) and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME). Those in ME category will receive a sum of not more than N500,000, while those in SME will get N5,000,000.
Interested applicants are expected to submit their applications via the LSETF portal for screening. Details of the successful applicants will be passed on to First Bank for appraisal and disbursement.