Determined to use technology to improve planning, allocation of resources and service delivery in its education sector, Osun State government has unveiled what it said is first-of-its-kind smart identity card with biometric features was launched for all public school students in the state.
The launch of the initiative took place at Salvation Army School, Alekuwodo, Oshogbo, Osun State. An initiative of Chams Plc, the smart ID card is linked back to a central database which provides the government of the State of Osun with accurate and reliable data on the identity and number students attending public schools in the state.
Speaking on the occasion, the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said: “In the history of human inventions, there are not too many inventions that are as useful as technology in terms of its efficiency and effectiveness at providing solutions to human problems. This is the reason why the government of the State of Osun adopted and is deploying technology as the solution to the legacy of inefficiency bequeathed to the civil service by past inept leaders. The Osun Student Smart ID card which is embedded with biometric features is also an ingenious technology solution that we have adopted to further raise the service delivery levels in the education sector.”
The governor added that with the card, each student is a unique and identifiable individual that cannot be mistaken for another person. “Effortlessly, government can identify all students in public schools, and have access to their information at the push of a button. It improves the effectiveness of life enriching programmes such as the O’Meals, O’Schools and Opon Imo, among other other innovations put in place for the welfare of students. The Smart Card makes tracking possible, implying that we are provided with more accurate information on the exact number of beneficiaries which eliminates fraud and accounting error of any type.
Commenting on the project, Deputy Governor of the state who is also the Commissioner for Education, Mr. Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, said: “This is indeed a significant milestone for the State of Osun because without accurate data, a holistic transformation of the education sector in Osun may remain elusive. Issuance of smart identity cards to all public school students will ensure that we have accurate data for use in updating our education strategy and sustain our pragmatic work-plan to ensure overall policy success. In no small measure, the smart identity card will also ensure accountability to government by students of public school as it makes it possible for schools to track attendance.”
She added that the government of the state will continue to upscale its investment in education across the state because it regards education of children and youths as one of the prime investments that can guarantee the exponential growth and development of the state in the 21st century’s maturing knowledge economy which places very high premium on human capital.
Also speaking on the occasion, Managing Director, Chams Plc, Mr. Demola Aladekomo, said: “The Osun Smart ID card provides biographical and biometric identification of public school children from elementary schools to middle schools and high schools, equipping government relaible demographic data of the student population in the state. This certainly improves planning, distribution and allocation of educational resources in alignment with population size, and the unique needs of students and schools across the 30 local government areas of the state. It will also aid the judicious use of government resources and improve budgeting, while also providing accurate data that will lead to the enunciation of more transformative policies.”
Aladekomo added that Chams is proud to be associated with the giant strides achieved by the government of the State of Osun as its continuously deploys Information and Communications Technology to improve governance and service delivery to the people of the state, irrespective of their location and status. “Without doubt, the Osun State is indeed becoming a model in e-governance that is worthy of emulation by other state governments because of its shrewdness and foresightedness in using technology to reduce the high incidence of fraud and wastage often associated with the public sector programmes. We can only promise the government of the State of Osun that we will continue to work with you to use Information and Communication Technology to make governance more inclusive in alignment with the realities of contemporary times.”
Similarly, in April, Chams Plc and First Bank of Nigeria partnered the government of the state to provide civil servants in Osun State with smart identity cards embedded with MasterCard prepaid capabilities – which is also the first of its kind by any state government in Nigeria. The card with biometric features can be used by the civil servants outside the country and is accepted by over 16 million merchants worldwide.
Full deployment of the scheme points to the government’s commitment to its 2011 education policy which sought an integrative and ICT enabled approach to the education of children and youth in the State. The policy evolved from the Osun Education Summit held also in 2011, and it has been described by local and international stakeholders and education regulatory bodies as a comprehensive and holistic response to the deterioration of public school system in the state.