Otunba Olayinka Lawal-Solarin is the Chairman/Chief Executive of Lantern Books. He bares his mind, in this interview with KAYODE OLANREWAJU, on germane issues in the publishing industry, teachers’ development, and the need for the country to go back to the basics.
How has the economic recession affected the publishing industry?
Well, let me say terribly; it is terrible. Since printing industry is associated with publishing scarcity of foreign exchange (Forex) has affected publishing companies and their operations in monumental ways.
First, we should realise that we do not produce papers in the country, and we do not produce any printing materials either. Materials such as ink, plates and chemicals are all imported and, therefore, if all printing materials are imported and we cannot access foreign exchange, obviously it will greatly affect publishing industry and books generally.
In concrete terms, how much did you spend on importation of printing materials few years ago, and what has been the situation in the last two years?
First of all, Lantern Publications Nigeria Limited is not a gauge for all publishing companies in the country, because we are exceptional in the sense that we print our own books.
Few other printers also do that. But, if you want to use Lantern Books as a gauge for publishing industry, I will say that before the exchange rate was between N150 and N165 per dollars, and now it is N498 to a dollar. To worsen the situation we cannot get the foreign exchange at all. We are now spending about three times the cost we were spending before.
What would you say about the tariff system on books?
Of course, the tariff system as it concerns publishing and printing industries has not always been very favourable, but on the other hand, we should have developed our own paper mills.
At least, we have two paper mills; one at Oku-Iboku and the other at Iwopin in Ogun State that could support the printing industry. They are moribund and that has accounted for the heavy reliance on books importation, which is being killed by tariff.
Apart from resuscitation of the paper mills at Oku-Iboku and Iwopin, what other suggestions will you put forward to improve the industry?
Well, like I said earlier, you have to look at the publishing industry as you look at the Nollywood. Nollywood generates a lot of foreign exchange for Nigeria. And, not only that it is a local cultur- a l product that invests in Nigerian culture, and therefore most Nigerians in the Diaspora and other African countries watch the Nollywood films and that generates a lot of money for the country as well as develops the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It contributes between 1.5 to 5 per cent to the GDP. Of course, the publishing industry is in that category because it also has cultural contents.
Apart from the fact that if you write books, which are educational and sound, they would not only educate Nigerians, at the end of the day, we would have educated Africans while our kids in the Diaspora, who want to know about what is happening at home will be able to do so.
So we need government intervention in the sector as the Nollywood industry once enjoyed. Now, that is one way of looking at it. So, if we follow the National Book Policy, we would not only develop the book publishing industry. Of course, we cannot restrict importation of books since there is free movement of books, but on the other hand it will be easier to control. Films have free movement to Nigeria as we can go to cinemas to watch Nollywood films.
Many Nigerians both in Nigeria and abroad watch Nollywood films and in Africa as well as. The same thing is replicated in the publishing industry. If you write books that are culturally relevant in Nigeria, you will find out that Nigerians will read and we are experiencing that already. And, Lantern is experienced in that because we publish culturally relevant books and we see that Nigerians love them.
At a time the publishing companies were complaining about the dearth of writers in the country, has this been addressed?
It depends on the type of authors you are referring to. There are two types of writers; the non-fiction and fiction authors. The non-fiction authors are not producing books mainly for school curriculum, but they write story books.
But, there shouldn’t have been the dearth of authors because there are a lot of professors and teachers, who are experienced and are writing books. We do not have that kind of problems.
I don’t know if other publishers have this problem, but there is a long gestation period between when we get an author to write a book, and when the book is published.
If you area publisher you cannot wait for that, and what some publishers do is to try to cut corners by going to India to publish their books. But, that is not in the best interest of publishing industry in Nigeria because there is a National Book Policy, which states clearly that to have the right cultural milieu we should encourage teachers and Nigerian authors to write textbooks, but that National Book Policy is not being enforced.
Book is critical to education in any clime, but the cost of books is becoming highly unaffordable to the parents and students. Is there anything the publishing industry is doing to address this?
I am not the President of the Nigerian Publishers’ Association, so I don’t want to go into what the association is doing about that. Lantern Books is just one of the many branches of the association and it is so established to make impression in publishing companies in Nigeria.
The trend here is to expect the industry to do something that the government is not encouraging and that is not possible because we have to work hand in hand. The National Book Policy, like I said earlier, is the area in which we can work together in terms of implementing its provisions.
We can’t do this without the government. Let me give you an example, when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was there as President, he did actually has a Minister, who worked with publishing industry to developing the book industry, but as soon as he left that process became moribund.
Again, there is no continuity in the system. There has been the Minister of Information and Culture, and there is Minister of Information, and another Minister of Culture. So, there is no continuity and when there is no continuity we will have all kinds of problems and this cannot resolve the issues.
I think at the moment, if we need to do anything about that, this government, publishers and the printers should sit down together and work out some kind of system that would make publishing industry thrive again.
There is the complaint of skill gaps in the printing industry, what is your reaction to this?
There is skill gap everywhere in the world. There is skill gap in the United States, United Kingdom and all other part of the world, with companies out sourcing their personnel. But, the only answer to this is that we have to develop our own skills.
The government once had Trade Schools for the development of these skills, but where are they now? There was a Trade School at Yaba, where in the good old days they were training printers and other relevant skills. This is what I said earlier about lack of continuity in the system.
They changed the curriculum, changed the system, and changed whatever it is over the years. Let me say this that 57 years after independence, we have not as a country gone anywhere. But, Chief Obafemi Awolowo did it and that is what we are enjoying till today.
He built infrastructure, schools, agriculture and roads. But what happened to the rest of the country. Lantern Books Publishers has been operating for over 50 years successfully, and if I may ask how many companies or entrepreneurs have had 50 years of continuous experience to develop any organisation? Everybody is looking for quick money.
What is your take on the situation where children take as many as 22 subjects in the school curriculum, especially in private primary and secondary schools?
I don’t think any school can do that. We don’t have teachers, because they no longer involve the children in the teaching-learning process. Many of the teachers themselves do not even know the subjects they are teaching.
So, there is the curriculum development department that develops curriculum and handed them over to the school system. When we were young there were Teacher Training Colleges all over the place, and there were so many trained teachers in the system everywhere.
Tell me where those teacher training schools are now. What we have are people who go to the universities and who do not even understand the courses they learned in the university, only to come out to teach the children.
What in your expectation will be the state of publishing industry in the next 10 years?
Well, if I say or tell you something or probably if I can give you figures now, is anybody listening. In fact, I have written tons of articles and publications on education development in newspapers, but nobody has done anything about all those suggestions or recommendations.
But, I am going to give you a statistics; we have 170 million people; we have 150 million subscribers of GSM telephone. Let us go back to that statistics, demographics says that at least 25 per cent of that 170 million, are children (9.42 million children).
Haven’t you heard that many children are not in school in Nigeria? I went to the Island sometimes ago and when I was coming back at night through Yaba, I saw many street children sleeping on the medians of the road. I got so sad because these children have not been trained.
Indeed, they are dangerous specie in the next five years. We are talking about kidnapping, armed robbery now, but we are breeding those kids because they didn’t go to school.
Now, where do we start? The government built school; they said they are free schools, but many parents cannot afford to send their children to schools. The government said after the children, but in actual fact, the government cannot really look after all of them. So, we are in a dilemma.
In your assessment, what will you say is the fate of publishing industry going by this current trend?
First and foremost, I cannot proclaim the fate of anything but, I can tell you that there are a lot of discussions ongoing on education. There is an organisation called the DAWN Commission, which is trying to revive History and education.
They hired old people and professors who are thinkers, who will go back and think about how to revive History and education in line with the resources and needs of the country.
We need those old people to get back and do something. Now, you can see that Yorubas have come together and they are working 24 hours to develop their region. But, what happens to the rest of the country,and that is the issue
Apology after Indian students wear cardboard boxes for exams
An Indian school official has apologised after a bizarre set of images went viral showing students wearing cardboard boxes on their heads.
The images were taken during a chemistry exam at Bhagat Pre-University College in Haveri, Karnataka state.
They showed students wearing boxes, cut open on one side, to prevent them from being able to copy other people’s work, reports the BBC.
A junior college administrator has spoken publicly and apologised to district officials for the incident.
MB Satish told BBC Hindi he was sorry for trying to use the unusual anti-cheating technique.
He said the school has only implemented the measure on an “experimental basis” after hearing of its use elsewhere.
He also insisted it had been done with the students’ consent – in fact they had brought in their own boxes.
“There was no compulsion of any kind. You can see in the photograph that some students were not wearing it,” he said. “Some who wore it removed it after 15 minutes, some after 20 minutes and we ourselves asked them to remove it after one hour.”
Regional officials reportedly rushed to the school to complain as soon as they were made aware of the images.
SC Peerjade, deputy director of the local pre-University Education Board, described the practice as “inhumane”.
“When I got a message on this, I immediately went to the college and ordered the management to stop the practice,” he was quoted by the Times of India as saying . “I also issued a notice to the college management and am contemplating disciplinary action against them for implementing this idea.”
School officials have said they have ceased the practice and are co-operating with the school board’s directive.
Sexual misconduct: UI inaugurates ad-hoc committee
Sequel to the recent exposition on the sex- for-grades scandal affecting a lecturer of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), the University of Ibadan has inaugurated an ad-hoc committee to investigate claims of sexual misconducts in the institution.
This development was contained in a release by Professor Idowu Olayinka, the Vice-Chancellor of the university as seen on his face book account Wednesday evening.
According to him: “The recent exposé of sexual misconduct in Nigerian universities is deeply disturbing and necessitates a reminder that the University of Ibadan maintains the tradition and standard of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and misconducts as contained in our Staff and Student Information Handbooks, the recently revised Gender Policy and Sexual Harassment Policy, and other allied documents as earlier approved by both the Senate and Council.
“Consequently, in order to ensure that the university is proactive in preventing incidences of sexual misconducts and be assured that the University of Ibadan is a safe space for staff and students, members of the university community are hereby notified that an ad-hoc committee has just been inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor to among others, investigate claims of sexual misconducts.
“To assist with their task, kindly communicate all relevant information on the subject matter to e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; and phone number 07033281680.”
Niger to give 2,500 teachers appointment letters
…as NSUBEB expends over N6bn in 6 years
Niger State government on Wednesday disclosed that at least 2,500 teachers will get their employment letters and resume work next month (November).
This is as the state’s Universal Basic Education (NSUBEB) disclosed that it received the sum total of N6,662,054,407 between 2013 and 2018 for interventions in Basic Education and Junior Secondary Schools.
While addressing journalists at the press gallery in Government House, Minna, the Chairman, NSUBEB, Alhaji Alhassan Muhammad Bawa said since 2015, the Board has trained over 16,000 teachers and carried out various interventions which include constructions, renovations and furniture.
According to him: “We have scaled up intervention in the educational sector with our development partners; we have constructed 1,313 classrooms, renovated 1,010 structures, 22 whole school, built 960 toilets, 20 high rise buildings, 20 fences and sunk 70 boreholes between 2015 and 2018.
“And because of the falling standard in education, the state government has given a nod for 2,500 qualified teachers to receive their appointment letters and to resume work by November this year.”
Oyo govt’s education reform to the rescue
Piqued by the dwindling fortune of the state education sector, which is characterized by high figure of out-of-school children, the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has put in place reforms that will redirect and refocus the sector for optimal performance
- Parents: Scrapping of N3,000 school fee, a right step
New education reforms and policies that will deliberate rescue the ailing education sector, address the nagging challenges in the school system, reposition and rejig the sector for the overall development of the state, have been initiated by the Oyo State Government.
The reform is to tackle poor school enrolment, charaterised by high figure of out-of-school children; poor budgetary allocation; shortage of facilities, decayed infrastructure, low teacher morale, inadequate qualified teachers, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) crisis, poor attention to technical and vocational education, which are some of the challenges confronting the state’s school system.
However, worried by these challenges and the urgent need to address them headlong if the state is to make any appreciable progress in education, the state government-led by Governor Seyi Makinde has re-enacted the free education policy once enjoyed by the people of the Pace Setter State.
The first major step taken by Governor Makinde in his rescue mission embarked upon to savage the rot in the state’ education, was the scrapping of the N3,000 school fee charged the students in public secondary schools by the immediate past administration of Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
Announcing the return of free education at primary and secondary school levels in the state during his inauguration on May 29, at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium (former Liberty Stadium), and the cancellation of the N3,000 school fees, which had hitherto deprived many children from going to school, stakeholders hailed the action as a welcome development that will go a long way to savage the system.
Meanwhile, the governor’s decision was not unconnected with the abysmal state of education in the state, as revealed last year by a data consulting firm, StatiSense, which reported that Oyo State was the leading state with the highest out-of-school-children figure in the South-West geo-political zone of the federation.
In the report, Oyo State had 463,280 out-of-school children, placing it as the only state among the 16 states in the North with the alarming education standard.
The report, however, painted the rot in the sector, despite the N2.5 billion spent on construction of three model schools, and renovation of 100 secondary schools across state at a total cost of N2 billion by the former administration.
Through the renewed vigour of Governor Makinde-led administration, the government disclosed that the state had returned over 34 per cent of the out-of-school children population to school.
Speaking on the fresh moves, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kehinde Sangodoyin, who disclosed this, however, added that the government was working towards mopping the rest of the out-of-school children back to classroom before the end of the year.
As part of the state’s rescue mission, the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB), Dr. Nureni Adeniran, had during the inauguration of the 11-member ‘Enrolment Drive Committee on Basic Education’ last week, said that the enrolment drive was geared towards addressing the out-of-school children phenomenon in the state.
This will create the needed awareness on the need to address alarming figure of out-of-school children in the state. This drive would adopt different strategies targeted at communities in the state, so as to increase enrolment in public schools,” he noted.
Adeniran further explained that the enrolment drive would ease the achievement of effective implementation of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) in Oyo State, saying: “The government through the committee would embark on intensive mobilisation drive of policy makers, parents, community leaders and other stakeholders for that purpose.”
Poised to reverse the trend and to achieve a viable education system, Makinde had reviewed upward the state 2019 education budget passed by the former governor by jerking up the percentage from the previous reported three per cent of the total budget to 10 per cent.
Piqued by the poor sectoral budgetary allocation, the governor had also promised to raise the allocation to 12 per cent as from the 2020 fiscal budget.
Under education financing of the state by the immediate past administration, the state House of Assembly had reviewed downward the N285 billion proposed by Governor Ajimobi to N182 billion, describing the amount as unrealisable and unduly bogus.
But, to ensure the realisation of better education for the children of the state, Governor Makinde shortly after the distribution of free textbooks to students in his alma mater, Bishop Philips Academy, Ibadan, said that he would take the state to an era where education would be well-planned, structured and well-funded.
“I enjoyed the same gesture from Oyo State Government in 1980. So, what we are doing today is not new. They provided for us chairs, tables, rulers, pencils, and mathematical sets. We need to reclaim the lost glory of Oyo State and reposition it among the comity of states of the country,” the governor pointed out.
On the low performance of the state in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), the governor, however, expressed optimism that the state would have a better rating in next year’s West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO) given his administration’s current interventions in the education sector.
Going by the sectoral data of the state, Oyo State presently has about 500,000 pupils and students in the about 3,000 state-owned schools, which include conservatively 324 secondary schools and 1,576 primary schools across the state.
However, New Telegraph learnt that prior to the cancellation of N3,000 school fees in secondary schools across the state, which brought a great relief to many parents, who could not afford to pay the N1,000 per term fee, many children had dropped out of school for apprenticeship training while several of them took into different trades such as bus conducting, and selling in traffic to eke out a living.
As meagre as the N3,000 is, some teachers, who lauded the reform policy of Governor Makinde’s administration in the education sector, recalled that many students were being sent out of school and examination hall due to the inability of their parents to pay.
The teachers added: “But, enrollment of students has, however, increased in the last few months as many of them, who had earlier dropped out, have now returned to school to join their peers at the beginning of this new school session. The alarming figure of out-of-school children has also reduced drastically.
“Apart from scrapping the N3,000 school fees, Governor Makinde has also cancelled the policy of using teachers employed by the Parent Teachers Association (PTA). For long, the teachers were being paid through internal levies on parents in order to assist the government in schools where there are insufficient teachers. Now, the governor has asked the principals of the affected schools to bring the list of PTA teachers for consideration for full employment.”
Over the past years, New Telegraph learnt that sundry charges were levied the students, including N500 some principals collected from students for collection of school certificates, but which Governor Makinde had also stopped forthwith in the system.
However, in order to instill discipline in the students and improve the deplorable rating of the state in WAEC and NECO examination results, the state government has commenced the distribution of free textbooks on all subject areas and between six and seven notebooks to a student.
Besides, the government has also introduced a two-hour extra lesson from 2 to 4p.m for three days a week.
Under the policy, the teachers will teach the students between these hours and on Saturdays between 9a.m and 1p.m, while special lessons will be taught by teachers who will be rotated among the schools.
Also, New Telegraph learnt that teachers who engage in Saturday lessons will be paid a special allowance for the extra job.
Meanwhile, under Governor Makinde’s education reforms, machinery has now been put in motion to ensure that principals receive their schools’ running grants regularly, which were not being released by the past administration, without putting the burden on parents.
Similarly, the governor has donated his salary to the state pensioners’ fund towards making life worthy of living to the pensioners.
Indeed, with this gesture, the governor said that the backlog of pension arrears owed the state pensioners running to billions of naira would be gradually defrayed.
Today, workers in the state, especially in the education receive their salary, as well as pension on the 25th of every month.
This policy of paying salary on 25th of every month has been christened ‘GSM Day Without Network Failure’ and currently the government is not owing any outstanding salary as the two-month salary owed primary school teachers by former administration had been cleared by the present administration to give impetus to teachers’ performance and quality education delivery.
Given the various reforms many parents have continued to withdraw their children and wards in droves from private schools to public school, which are non-fee-paying.
In the tertiary education level, Governor Makinde has promised to leverage on the state-owned higher institutions to midwife the development of the state.
Therefore, the governor has commenced action to review upward the 25 per cent subvention being allocated to the institutions by his predecessor, a development which culminated in series of industrial action in the past.
In the policy considered by stakeholders a burden on students and their parents, as well as the management of the institutions, the immediate past government had ordered mangers of the state-owned tertiary institutions to generate 75 per cent of their funding internally to run the institutions.
While receiving the reviewed 2019 budget, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, however, commended the governor for approving the release of 100 per cent subvention to all state-owned tertiary institutions to pay the workers’ salary and other entitlements.
The state government has also promised to pay the institutions’ subventions in order to raise the bar of higher education in the state, even as the government has banned payment for common entrance and admission forms for students seeking admission into the state technical colleges and schools of science.
On the crisis ridden Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, which has remained a pain in the neck of the state, the governor has promised to address the challenges and return stability to the institution owned jointly by Oyo and Osun States.
Underscoring the critical role of technical and vocational education in the development of the country and to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Governor Makinde’s administration is given the technical colleges, spread across the state proper attention, with a mandate to their Councils to fast-track rapid development of the colleges as well as ensure smooth academic calendar and industrial harmony in the system.
Under Mkinde’s reform, the First Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan, established by the administration of Senator Ajimobi has continued receive a boost.
He also assured the university management of his administration’s support to make the institution an enviable citadel of excellence in terms of vocational and engineering services.
To access the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEC) Matching grants in order to enhancing the development of basic education, the governor had also pledged that his administration was poised to pay the state’s counterpart fund so as to access the sum of N2,724,516,373.70 outstanding with UBEC.
According to Adeniran, “this will go a long way in assisting the Governor Makinde-led administration in its effort at enhancing qualitative education delivery in the state.”
The SUBEB chair, who, however, insisted that the state would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that every grant for the promotion of education in the state was accessed, pointed out that “government will ensure that Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board benefits from every unaccessed fund with UBEC, which would be channeled into the development of education in order to further boost enrollment in public schools across the state.
Another salient aspect of the state government’s education reform is infrastructural development, under which the government has completed some abandoned school structures by the previous government, such as the model schools in Isokun, Oyo and Eruwa, among others, while dilapidated structures are being rebuilt and renovated to give the schools facelift.
On the proliferation of sub-standard private school, the Governor Makinde’s administration has vowed that the system would be washed clean of such shenanigan in the system.
Towards this end, the SUBEB chair said that a Task Force on unregistered and substandard private schools would soon be inaugurated to arrest owners or operators of such schools with a view to restoring sanity into the sector.
“There are many private primary and secondary schools springing up everywhere in the state without the approved and regulated standard,” he noted, saying all these excesses would be curbed in the system.
“The owners or operators of such schools should be ready for our Task Force, which will visit their schools very soon. We are going to reposition the state’s education sector better than it had been over the years,” the former Commissioner said.
UNILAG alumni unite for national development
Old students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), under their umbrella body, the University of Lagos Alumni Association will between October 18 and 26 return to their alma mater to celebrate the golden jubilee of the association.
The 50th anniversary celebration, which had already been kicked off on Sunday, October 13 with the Annual General Meeting, has as a theme: “Driving Nigeria’s Sustainable Development Agenda,” centered on the importance the association attached to national development through sustainable development goals.
While addressing journalists at a media conference organised to unveil activities lined up to commemorate the anniversary, the National President of the association and Chairman of Channels Media Group, Dr. John Momoh, said the anniversary lecturer: “How Nigeria Can Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” would be delivered by the immediate past Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy For All, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella.
He also told journalists at the Alumni Jubilee House, Akoka Campus, venue of the media parley, that the lecture would be discussed by key personalities, experts and policy makers, including the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulure.
Other activities to commemorate the anniversary include a Jumat service at the university Mosque on Friday, October 18; Thanks-giving service on Sunday, October 20 at the Chapel of Christ The Light; while exhibition by notable names in Nollywood, fashion and music, as well as the anniversary lecture are billed for Thursday, October 24.
According to Momoh, the grand finale of the anniversary, which is the Distinguished Alumni Awards and Dinner, where a selected few notable alumni and friends of the association would be honoured, would hold on Saturday, October 26, at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Vitoria Island, Lagos.
However, underscoring the key role of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the overall growth and development of the nation, especially in the critical areas of poverty reduction and provision of security, the association reiterated that SDGs should be seen as a national objective.
According to the Chairman, Programme Sub-Committee, Dr. Waheed Olagunju, there is the need for government and private sector to come together for the country to succeed in the 17 goals of the SDGs.
Dr. Momoh, expressed delight that the vision of the founding fathers of the 57-year-old institution had been actualised and faithfully followed over the decades.
While he also pointed out that the partnership with the university had been mutually beneficial, albeit some minor challenges, he said the theme of the celebration was centered on the importance the association attached to national development.
At the conference were the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe; Chairman, Programme Sub-Committee, Dr. Waheed Olagunju; Dr. Lukman Adeoti; the Chairman of Golden Jubilee Organising Committee, Mr. Temitope Smart; Chairman, Public Sub-Committee, Mr. Ime Ufot; and the National Publicity Secretary, Mrs. Regina Chris-Ogbodo, among other members and officials of the alumni association.
A renewed hope, support for teachers on World Teachers’ Day
As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s World Teachers’ Day, a stakeholder and education provider, Bridge Nigeria, has lamented that only about 20 per cent of young Nigerian adults, who have completed primary education, could read and write.
Worried by this development, the organisation has launched the #TeachersTransformLives campaign, which is to raise awareness of how teachers can be well supported and developed to help children develop even in the most challenging places and environment.
The campaign, which was launched as part of activities making the day at the Yaba Office of the Bridge Nigeria, according to the Managing Director, Mr. Oladapo Olarinmoye, is to highlight teachers in various communities, whose experience of teaching has been transformed due to a programme of training and support.
“Teachers demonstrate firsthand that teachers on the front line of this silent teaching crisis can change lives and improve outcomes if supported effectively,” he noted, saying: “Teachers play significant role in shaping young people’s lives and the future of their countries and so teaching is the most important job in the world.”
Olarinmoye added: “Every teacher needs adequate support and professional development and many teachers are not getting that. The risks for not doing this right could not be higher. That is why we are launching a new campaign to highlight the important role of teachers and how appropriate training and support can enable them to improve learning outcomes even in the most difficult environment.”
According to him, since the introduction of the World Teachers’ Day by the United Nations 25 years ago to galvanize global efforts to help teachers, millions of teachers are still without the requisite support and training needed to succeed.
Consequently, more than half of young people in the world, he noted, had not attained the basic reading and mathematics skills required to build prosperous future for themselves and their communities.
On his part, the guest speaker, Rotimi Eyitayo, the CEO, Team Master Global, stated that when teachers have the right training and motivation, their potential would become performance.
“The substance of the teacher is what makes the teacher great,” he reiterated, saying there was the need to support teachers to enhance their potential for high performance and productivity.
Also, the Academics Director at Bridge Nigeria, Rhoda Odigboh, however, said that teachers could be more effective if they were adequately equipped with the resources, techniques and support aimed at improving learning outcomes.
She said: “We know how to deliver better teacher training and support leading to more effective classrooms. Unless governments and others take urgent action, the UN goal of quality education for all by 2030 looks very bleak and difficult to achieve.
“There remains a global shortage of over 68 million teachers, making the learning crisis both a
quantity and quality issue for communities, governments and every sector helping to address the challenge.”
The high point of the event was the launching of a yearly award for teachers of Bridge Schools, as part of moves to reward excellent performance, as well as promote quality teaching, commitment and dedication among the teachers.
Meanwhile, some of the teachers working on the front line of the global learning crisis had explained how they are becoming stronger teachers and how training and support had made them agents of positive change in their communities.
Commissioner lauds teachers, school for winning FG education awards
For their excellent performance in the education sector, no fewer than three private school teachers in Lagos and a school, Mrs. Elusaki Agnes Iyabo, Ikuseyidunmi Pius Bababo and Adeniyi Oluwasegun and Government Junior College, Epe have won this year’s edition of the 2019 President’s Teachers and Schools Excellence Award (PTSEA).
The award, which took place at the Eagle Square, Abuja, was instituted by the Federal Government to reward excellent teachers and schools for their exemplary performance in the education sector.
According to the state Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, who disclosed this while addressing teachers during the 2019 World Teachers’ Day celebration at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Sports’ Complex, the feat was achieved as a result of priority attention the state government is paying to the development of the sector through provision of facilities.
“We have professionals and qualified teachers to attain greater heights in delivering quality education to our future leaders,” she noted, commending the teachers and school for their dedication and commitment to teaching jobs, as well as to the growth of the sector.
The Commissioner added: “No society can achieve meaningful development in delivering quality education without placing premium value on its teachers. I must confess that only Almighty God can reward your efforts and pray that your labour will not be in vain. Considering your roles, contributions and importance, our teachers must receive and enjoy the rewards for their labour first here on earth, and then in Heaven.”
The Commissioner, however, assured teachers in the state that teaching profession would be made more attractive under the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, which has promised to increase budgetary allocation to education, deploy technology driven template to drive the sector, employ more teachers, upscale regular training of teachers, as well as create a conducive teaching and learning environment.
She also lauded the leadership of the state wing of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) for ensuring proper cohesion, solidarity and welfare of teachers in the state.
While reaffirming that the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) set aside October 5 every year as the World Teachers’ Day, with the aim to celebrate the invaluable contributions and roles of teachers’ in providing quality education to the children, Mrs. Adefisayo, described the theme of this year’s celebration “Young Teachers, the Future of the Profession” as appropriate and apt, as it addressed the need to take a critical look at the teaching profession from a perspective of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
“This is for the purpose of repositioning the profession for optimal performance in this present age that global attention is being shifted from resource-based economy to knowledge-based economy,” the Commissioner added.
Dignitaries at the event include the Permanent Secretaries/Tutor Generals of the Six Education Districts of the state; the Chairman of Lagos State Civil Service Commission, Mrs. Taiwo Oyemade; Mrs. Bunmi Oteju, who represented the SUBEB Chairman, Mr. Wahab Alawiye King; Chairman Teaching Service Commission, Mrs. Olabisi Ariyo; Director, Education Quality Assurance, Mrs. Bisola Seriki Ayeni; and the NUT Chairman, Otunba Adedoyin Adesina, among other stakeholders.
Institute advocates ‘change management’ in school curriculum
A call has gone to the Federal Government to rejig the nation’s education curriculum to include the teaching of ‘Change Management’ from basic education level to tertiary institutions.
The call was made by the Registrar of the Institute of Change Management (ICM), Mr. Joseph Anetor during the induction of new members into the institute in Lagos.
According to him, mere ability to read and write has become gross insufficient to navigate the present age of information technology and artificial intelligence, and therefore, it is important for students to hone their skills to become change agents from the early stage of their education.
This was as he noted that change was needed by everyone in order to adapt to the challenges of an ever-changing and complex society, saying the mission of the institute is to build skilled and competent change management specialists, organisations and institutions.
Anetor said: “It is also to create value and make a difference across all sectors of the economy, provide the needed support to individuals and corporate organisations. As the saying goes, the only permanent thing in life is change. The world would never stop evolving and changing.
“Therefore, the institute will continue the search for the best ways to prepare human and institutional capacities to enable us to take advantage of the benefits of the emerging changes to avoid any attendant risk that may accompany them.”
No fewer than a total of 15 new inductees were admitted into the various cadres of membership of the institute.
Meanwhile, in his keynote address, entitled: “Leading in a volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) world: The Change Management Imperatives,” Mr. Tayo Ayoola, a management consultant, said the society today was characterised by its volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
He hinted that contemporary society was moving at nearly the speed of lightening which required today’s professionals to keep a step ahead of the unexpected and react in a timely manner; stay on course despite constant surprises and lack of predictability; steer one’s operations through complexity, chaos and confusion and be able to take decisive actions.
However, Ayoola urged professionals to think global, but act locally, noting that success in a VUCA world would require setting laudable goals, relying on technology and being flexible, as well as to be adaptive, among others.
12,000 Nigerians in U.S. colleges, varsities – Consul General
The United States Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, has said that about 12,000 Nigerians this year alone are studying in the United States.
He disclosed this during the 20th EducationUSA College and Career Fair 2019, which is being organised by the EducationUSA Nigeria since 19 years ago to introduce Nigerians to U.S. colleges and universities.
With over 4,000 accredited higher education institutions and over 600 courses of study in the United States, the Consul General, who said that truly there was something for everyone, however, added also that the college fairs had directly contributed to an increase in the number of highly qualified Nigerian applicants to U.S. institutions.
“When you study in the United States, you will receive a quality education and be competitive in the job market. The U.S. higher education institutions go beyond theory to offer international students practical training and jobs on campus while studying,” he said.
He further explained that graduates of U.S. institutions were in high demand because of the experience they acquired through internships, jobs, and volunteering, saying that education is a great catalyst, one of the main ingredients in fulfilling people’s dreams.
Pierangelo, who lauded parents, educators, and students who were at the fair to learn about the many higher education opportunities existing in the United States, promised that they would not be disappointed.
He said: “Today, you will have direct access to admissions representatives from a diverse group of colleges and universities in the United States. You also have two of the most passionate EducationUSA Advisers on the continent.”
Nigeria, the Consul General noted, has most of the foreign students in the United States from Africa, saying the U.S. Department of State supports EducationUSA fairs around the world.
He listed some notable alumni of the U.S. colleges and universities to include Chimamanda Adichie, who obtained a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Arts in African Studies from Yale University; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who received a PhD in Regional Economics and Development from MIT; Obiageli Ezekwesili obtained a MPA from Harvard University; Liyel Imoke received a LLM from American University; Ndidi Nwuneli received a MBA from Harvard Business School; Onyeka Onwenu earned a Master of Arts in Media Studies from the New School; and Banky W, who obtained a Bachelor Degree in Industrial Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Who are the victims?
In his analysis of how ordinary Nigerians or common citizens kill and maim one another because of ethnicity, religion and politics while the elite emerge unscathed at the end of every conflict, Prof. Sani Abubakar Lugga, the Waziri of Katsina, raised the poser above, which is the title of the 2017 book: “who are the victims?”
With graphic photographs of dead, decapitated, debased and displaced people and a long nominal list of hundreds of victims of ethnic, religious and political conflicts in Plateau State alone as a microcosm of Nigeria, the author stridently drives home the message that ordinary Nigerians, especially the youth, should not allow the fire-spitting, divisive and bigoted leaders to sway them into taking negative action because the common people are always the victims of violence.
Since the period between 1451 and 1870 when 15,026,000 male and female slaves from West Africa were forcefully transported via the Sahara Desert and across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to dehumanisation, the ordinary people have been the victims of conflicts, not the kings and the nobles. The Niger Delta militancy, the Boko Haram insurgency, the political violence and ethno-religious conflicts that have ravaged Nigeria in the past few decades have resulted in the death and displacement of ordinary citizens, who are the constant victims.
The author concludes the book on a pungent note while also raising four fundamental questions. According to him, “Nigerian Ordinary Citizens who are drafted as political thugs or religious and ethnic militia should stop allowing themselves to be used as gunpowder. Religious, ethnic and political leaders and elites normally trigger the conflicts from the comfort of their fortress homes and woo ordinary citizens into battle. Those who get killed, maimed or arrested by security agents are the ordinary citizens, as the planner-leaders and elites and members of their families never take part in the actual ‘war’; there would never be victims!”
His final questions addressed to those who fan the embers of conflict and violence in Nigeria, are: why do Imams and Pastors not come out, join and lead in religious conflicts; why do political leaders not come out, join and lead in political conflicts; why do Tribal Leaders not come out, join and lead in ethnic conflicts; and why do Leaders and Elites push Ordinary Nigerians and their children to the war-front and take themselves and their children away from the actual battlefields?
On the basis of the foregoing, it is in the interest of ordinary Nigerians, the youth especially, to resist the chicanery of the public figures and social media warriors whose antics are to lead Nigerians into fighting one another on ethnic, religious and political grounds. Those who do that are conflict entrepreneurs who are wont to benefit from gun business when the bubble bursts. They are those with dual passports who can easily jet out of the country with their children at the drop of a hat.
Though the Boko Haram insurgency has proved that even the rich also cry and all the elite are not immune to the consequences of violence, the fact still remains, as Prof. Lugga posits, that the masses are the victims. Why then should the victims work with their victimisers to oppress, repress and suppress their fellow victims?
To be a Nigerian is to be an original victim of the many vices and problems associated with bad governance and poor leadership. To complicate the matter further is to induce violence or conflict so that even the ordinary air being enjoyed will be difficult with disruption and destruction life’s ecosystem. In essence, everyone is a victim altogether as the line and the fowl that perches on it are uncomfortable.
As victims, ultimately, it is in our collective interest that Nigerians embrace and promote peace education. Peace education, according to UNICEF, is the process of promoting the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about behavioural changes that will enable children, youth and adults to prevent conflict and violence, both overt and structural; to resolve conflict peacefully; and to create conditions conducive to peace, whether at an intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, national or international level.
To embrace peace education, Nigerians must prioritise discipline, character and the virtue of loving one’s brother as oneself regardless of religion, ethnicity and politics.
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