The General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, has said that the agency trained 300 pupils in the last three years to reduce the incidence of children drowning in Nigeria.
Emmanuel made the disclosure during the 3rd edition of LASWA’s Advocacy Programme tagged ” The Lagos Water Savvy Kids Programme.”
It was held in partnership with State Universal Basic Education Board SUBEB and the Dolphin Swim School, in Epe, Lagos.
The General Manager said that swimming training would help to reduce the incidence of children drowning in water accidents and improve use of water transportation.
Emmanuel said the training was to instil water confidence in pupils by giving them theoretical and practical knowledge on waterways safety, swimming skills and basic survival techniques in an emergency.
“A total of 50 students from five public schools in riverine communities in the Epe axis of Lagos were selected to participate in this year’s edition.
“With this training, school children using the waterways will be more confident, conscious of their safety, and be self-reliant in an emergency.
“There is a need to increase swimming culture among children and we have deemed it fit to take this to public schools and to all the divisions of the state.
“The training of kids on how to swim is not only done by Lagos State Waterways Authority, the Sport commission is also involved.
”There has been a call to all stakeholders to create more awareness and encourage the swimming culture as well as ensure that there are always water guards around the pools.
“This is the third edition, and we have taken the exercise to Ibeshe, Ojo and Epe,” Emmanuel said.
The LASWA boss promised to continue to engage schools, teachers and parents to understand that the programme is safe, and healthwise, advisable.
He promised to look into the inclusion of teachers along riverine areas in the training.
Emmanuel said that the safety of lives on the waterways had become paramount and LASWA would continue to give it its utmost attention by providing necessary safety guidelines and life jackets.
The Education Secretary, Epe Local Government, Mr Idowu Shittu, commended LASWA for organising the swimming programme for their pupils.
Shittu pleaded with the Lagos State Government and LASWA to extend the swimming training to the teachers, to remove their phobia of water transport.
He explained that swimming was part of the psychomotor aspect of education which was also a source of generating income and employing people.
The representative of SUBEB in Epe, Mrs Temidayo Oyeniran, expressed her gratitude on the swimming training for the kids and pleaded for an extension to teachers.
Oyeniran said that they lost a teacher as a result of drowning during the rainy season, noting that if the teacher had such training, it would have saved her life.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Lead Instructor, Dolphin Swim School and Dolphin Aquatic Center Ltd., Mrs Aderoju Ope-Ajayi, said the pupils learnt how to use life jackets properly, how to swim with it and how to avoid drowning.
Ope-Ajayi said that the pupils were taught the importance of water safety and were able to grasp the concept easily because they had local knowledge of swimming.
“Currently, we run a learn-to-swim programme for children and adults.
“A child learning how to be water safe means drowning prevention; that means the rate of death by drowning will significantly reduce.
Over 800 children drown every year, now the children will demonstrate the skills they learnt during the training,” she said.
One of the beneficiaries from Local Government Primary School, Oriba in Epe, Miss Afusat Muritala, said she was able to learn basic survival strategies, diving and swimming.
Another pupil, Moshood Idowu, appreciated the State government and LASUBEB for the swimming training.