- Stakeholders rise to salvage situation
- Babalakin: There is no crisis, but…
University of Lagos (UNILAG) is presently at war with itself. There is a lingering crisis among the management, Governing Council and the university chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which, if not resolved, may drag the image of the 57-year-old university in the mud
There is palpable disquiet at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), following a lingering crisis rocking the management of the university. The Governing Council, led by the Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council, Dr. Wale Babalakin, was said to have directed the Registrar/Secretary to the Council, Mr. Oladejo Azeez, to issue letters of query to some senior management officials of the university, including the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe; two of his deputies – Professors Folasade Ogunsola and Oluwole Familoni.
This is as the management of the institution-led by the Vice-Chancellor, the governing council and the lecturers, under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have publicly engaged in a dirty fight.
Given the crisis, if not urgently addressed, the university may be heading for big crisis. But, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Dr. Wale Babalakin had told New Telegraph that “There is no crisis.”
The crisis, however, blew open on Tuesday, April 30, with the issuance of letters of query to a good number of senior management officials of the university including the Vice-Chancellor and two of his deputies, as well as the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Rahamon Bello; former Registrar, Taiwo Ipaye; immediate past Bursar and his successor, Dr. Lateef Odekunle and Mr. Lekan Lawal respectively, who were also queried. Also queried were the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Management Services, Prof. Duro Oni; incumbent Dean of Students’ Affairs, Prof. Ademola Adeleke; for-mer Directors of Works, Niyi Ayeye and Adelere Adeniran; Director of Academic Planning, Prof. Lucian Chukwu; Head of the University Procurement Unit, James Akanmu, and the Director of Foundation Programme, Prof. Timothy Nubi.
The letters of query, which bordered on allegations of corrupt practices such as contract splitting, signing of voucher above approval limit, travelling without permission, among others, were signed by the University Registrar, Mr. Oladejo Azeez. Azeez, who doubled as the Secretary to the Governing Council, had reportedly issued the queries on the instruction of the Pro-Chancellor/Council Chair, Dr. Wale Babalakin.
Irked by the development, the university’s chapter of ASUU, which expressed dissatisfaction with the action of the Registrar and Council chair, in its response advised its members that were affected in the action to reach out to ASUU leadership for appropriate action.
This was as ASUU, in its letter of Thursday, May 2, and which was signed by its Chairman, Dr. Dele Ashiru, accused Dr. Babalakin of arrogating too much power to himself. The letter, which was titled: “Creeping Tyranny and Looming Anarchy in the University of Lagos,” however, condemned the action of the Registrar.
The letter reads: “Our fears that a vicious, vindictive and meddlesome leviathan at the head of the University of Lagos Council has sadly been confirmed.Our union has received an avalanche of complaints from members, who are in receipt of “queries” most recklessly and illegally authorised by the Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Wale Babalakin through the Registrar.
“This dictatorial, unprocedurial, illegal and deliberate bye-pass of the university administration, whose duty is that of day-to-day running of the university, is strange and dangerous.
It is sad and shameful that the purported report(s) which the pro-chancellor is acting upon has not been received by the university’s council. This arbitrariness and ‘one-man show’ is repulsive and unacceptable to our union as it smacks of vindictiveness.” However, on Friday, May 3, the Registrar had in a statement made available to New Telegraph, entitled:
“The Need to Tell the Truth,” accused ASUU of inconsistency and insincerity, and sought for specific laws of the institution that was violated by the action of the council chairman.
The Registrar in the statement also accused the union of being purveyor of lies in the past, and that their argument could not stand. The statement reads in part; “The attention of the Registry has been drawn to the circular issued by Dr. Dele Ashiru, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos branch, on 2nd May 2019.
In the said release, the union accused the Council of the university of tyranny because Council sought explanation of certain activities and expenditure in the university. “The notice did not identify any specific laws or regulation of the university that was violated by the Council. The Office of the Registrar would be glad to receive the specific law or rule of the university that was breached to enable us pass it to Council.
“It is noteworthy that on previous occasions within the tenure of this Council, ASUU has issued notices criticising the Council for taking certain steps, and all these occasions ASUU was not right. For example, when ASUU issued a statement that the meeting between Council and the Senate was unprecedented in the history of our university, it turned out to be wrong because the previous Councils under Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) and Deacon Gamaliel Onosode also had similar meetings with the Senate.” Specifically, the Registrar also listed other instances where ASUU had eaten its words in the past and surrendered to the supremacy of the council leadership, especially in the award of a Distinguished Professor to Prof. Dele Olowokudejo.
“Similarly, ASUU issued a statement condemning the non-confirmation of Prof. Dele Olowokudejo as a Distinguished Professor as an unprecedented violation of the academic autonomy of the University. Again, the statement turned out to be very wrong as it is clearly provided in the University of Lagos Act 1967 that the Council is the approving authority for all honours to be conferred by the University.
“It is unbelievable that the same ASUU that approached/and appealed to the Pro-Chancellor to confirm Olowokudejo’s appointment as a Distinguished Professor outside plenary after Council had taken a decision to step down his appointment in plenary is now making a case that the Chairman of Council cannot act for Council outside plenary. A paramount cornerstone for proper learning is intellectual honesty and consistency.
“We urge ASUU to remember that the University of Lagos is a centre of learning, where the pursuit of knowledge is very paramount. There is nothing worse than the tyranny of ignorance.”
But, miffed by the Registrar’s statement in response to ASUU’s position in the matter, the university’s Vice-Chancellor issued the Registrar a query, demanding explanation within 24 hours. According to the Vice-Chancellor, it was wrong of the Registrar to have issued such a statement without his approval, even as he cited relevant sections of the institution’s law that place the Registrar under the control of the Vice-Chancellor.
The Vice-Chancellor’s statement reads: “In light of the foregoing, you are expected to explain the reason for the publication, bearing in mind Section 3 (1), 6 (1) of the University of Lagos Act (1961), as amended, which states inter alia – “There shall be a Registrar, who shall be the administrative officer of the university and shall be responsible to the vice-chancellor for the day-to-day administrative work of the university.”
However, ASUU on the part, quickly fired back at the Registrar, describing him as a puppet to the Council chairman. The union said it had never attacked or condemned the council, but that it would stand against the Chairman arrogating council’s power to himself. The union further said: “The attention of our union has been drawn to a most disparaging circular, titled: “The Need to Tell the Truth,” singed by Oladejo Azeez, Esq. the University Registrar. Ordinarily, our union would not have dignified the voice of the Pro-Chancellor in the hand writing of Oladejo Azeez but for the barefaced lies and falsehood characteristic of the Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Wale Babalakin. For the avoidance of doubt, the said circular indicated that our union did not identify any specific laws or regulations of the university that was violated by Council. The correct position is that our union has no problem with the university council and has never accused it of any wrong doing. Our grouse is the crude usurpation of Council’s powers by the Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Wale Babalakin.
The Registrar also claimed that “at previous occasions ASUU claimed that the meeting between Council and the Senate was unprecedented in the history of our university.” The Registrar should be reminded that Council is not the same as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council. Our contention has always been that the Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Wale Babalakin cannot approximate the Council of the University of Lagos. Furthermore, the mere fact that an illegality had occurred in the past does not mean that it cannot be corrected when such is pointed out.
All the fears expressed by this same Dr. Ashiru as the said Senate meeting which the Pro-Chancellor shamelessly denied, are now manifesting.” While insisting that it would continue to stand against what it described as Dr. Babalakin’s tyranny, arrogance and power usurpation, ASUU added: “For the incompetent and willing inconsequential tool called Oladejo Azeez, who was smuggled into the office as lame duck Registrar and Secretary to the Pro-Chancellor, he should be reminded that there is a limit to sycophancy and flunkey bootlicking. Oladejo Azeez should get familiar with the function(s) of a seasoned University Registrar and stop deploying the paraphernalia of his esteemed office in the service of a brutish leviathan.”
But, when New Telegraph sought the reaction of the Chairman of the Council on the matter, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria denied any crisis in the university. In a terse response to our inquiry, Dr. Babalakin wrote: “There is no crisis.
The truth will stand and lies will collapse.” Meanwhile, New Telegraph is aware of efforts of the university’s stakeholders to resolve the degenerating situation as soon as possible, especially as the NUGA, which to be hosted by UNILAG is around the corner. According to credible sources, the university’s alumni association under the leadership of the popular broadcaster and owner of Channels Television, Dr. John Momoh, is rallying support to appeal to the warring faction to sheath their swords.
The source, who craved anonymity, said the association is concerned with the university’s image and would want everything resolved as soon as possible to avoid further embarrassment.
The source said: “You know one thing; the university is bigger than everyone. All these parties who are at war will leave the university system one day, but the image of the university is very important. We cannot say because of personal interest we want to damage the legacies bequeathed to us by the founding fathers. Things must be done in the right way.”
The source also said that as soon as Dr. Momoh arrives from his trip abroad where he was recently honoured with an award, he will join the other stakeholders including his predecessor, Chief Sunny Kuku and retired Prof. Olaide Abass, among others, who are currently working round the clock to ensure the matter is solved as quickly as possible.
Sultan asks NUD, Muslim groups to establish more varsities
Kunle Olayeni, Abeokuta
Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, has expressed dissatisfaction with the number of universities established by Muslim organisations in the country.
Abubakar said there is urgent need for the Nawair-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria (NUD) and other Muslim groups to rise to the occasion and address the prevailing educational challenges across the nation.
He spoke at the 80th anniversary of NUD and presentation of merit and posthumous awards to deserving individuals which held, weekend, at its National Central Mosque, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
At the event, which was attended by eminent personalities and distinguished Islamic scholars, Governor Dapo Abiodun also commended NUD for its efforts fostered at sustaining religious peace through the provision of education.
Abiodun, who was represented by his deputy, Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele, asked the Muslim organisation to partner with his administration in repositioning the education sector in the state for optimal performance.
In his remarks, the Sultan urged influential Muslims to support the Nawair-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria in establishing tertiary institutions across the country.
According to him, Muslim children deserve qualitative education and good schools to contribute towards nation-building.
Abubakar, who lauded the NUD for its investments in education, challenged the organisation to also consider setting up universities to adequately educate Muslim children in accordance with Islamic tradition.
The Sultan noted that such universities would also address the discrimination arising from the use of hijab by Muslim females in certain educational institutions.
FUTA suspends students involved in assault of female schoolmate
The management of the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) has announced the suspension of some students involved in the physical assault of their colleague.
On Saturday, a video had emerged on the internet and gone viral where a group of five students — one male, four females — were seen beating a female 100 level student in her room.
The footage has since provoked outrage on social media platforms, especially Twitter, where users have demanded for actions.
In a statement issued on Sunday by Adegbenro Adebanjo, FUTA’s deputy director, corporate communications, the varsity said it has also begun investigation into the circumstances that led to “the odious and unfortunate act”.
“The Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA has suspended the students involved in the bullying of a female student in one of the off campus hostels on Saturday November 16, 2019 even as it continues with investigations into the circumstances that led to the odious and unfortunate act,” the statement read.
“The University deplores such behavior and reiterates that all those found to be culpable will be visited with the full weight of the law under the extant rules and regulations governing Students behavior and conduct off and on the campus at the conclusion of investigation being carried out by the Students Affairs Division.
“The University Management is providing medical and counseling support for the affected student.
“The University reiterates its abhorrence of any action or behavior by students that are inimical to the well-being of others and will continue to sanction students who run foul of its rules and regulations.
“For the avoidance of doubt only students who are worthy in learning and character can lay claim to and be addressed as FUTA students.”
UI produces 241 First Class as 7,430 graduate
The University of Ibadan, Ibadan Tuesday graduated 7,430 students with 241 of them making First Class honours from various degree programmes and faculties in its 2017/2018 academic session.
The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, disclosed this while speaking during the 71st Foundation Day and Convocation ceremonies held at the International Conference Centre of the institution.
Addressing the graduands, Olayinka said: “One would readily agree that you deserve to celebrate your success. The challenges you encountered in the course of your programme of studies cannot be overemphasized. It is heart-warming to note that in spite of these challenges, you have invariably been found worthy in character and learning, hence your graduation today.
“A total of 7,430 candidates will be awarded first degrees today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday), while 293 persons will be awarded diplomas. This morning, candidates are graduating from the Faculties of Arts, Science, Basic Medical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Dentistry, Public Health and Law. The first degree graduands from the other faculties, the Distance Learning Centre and the Affiliated Institutions will have their turn tomorrow (Wednesday).
“A total of 241 of our students are graduating with First Class Honours. The Faculty of Science has the highest number of First Class at 46, followed by the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry with 38 and the Faculty of Technology with 27.
“A further breakdown of the graduating list shows that 3.38% and 27.61% of our students finished with First Class and Second Class Upper (Division) Honours, respectively.”
Niger moves to rescue basic education
- SUBEB chair: N6.6bn spent in six years
- Stakeholders: Amount not commensurate with facilities available
Niger State Universal Basic Education Board (NSUBEB) has embarked on a silent revolution to rescue the state’s ailing basic education sub-sector and set it for optimal performance
Asilent revolution, that will trigger the delivery of qualitative education, change the face of the entire education sector, and reposition basic education sub-sector, is evolving in Niger State.
The Niger State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has spent over N6.6 billion Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) counterpart funding on various interventions and to engage no fewer than 2,500 teachers this month to address the challenges of shortage of qualified teachers in the school system, as well as provide conducive teaching-learning environment for qualitative education to thrive.
But, despite the commitment and efforts between 2013 and 2018 to fix the sub-sector, the Board has continued to receive bashing from some stakeholders, who are criticising the state government, insisting that the amount is not commensurate with the facilities provided.
However, the NSUBEB said recently that one of the achievements of the Board was its ability to access and utilise intervention fund from UBEC for 2013 capital projects, which has improved the management and monitoring of resources for the physical projects executed with the funds. This, it also pointed out, had also ensured that projects were executed to specifications with the consequence to enhance access to education for the children of the state.
Meanwhile, the Board had expressed worry over the report of a study conducted by the World Bank in 2000 on the Nigerian education sector, which noted that “the quality of education offered is low and that standards have dropped, based on lack of adherence to acceptable education best practices.”
The report further added: “Teacher qualifications are low. The learning environment does not promote effective learning. Basic facilities, such as teaching and learning resources are generally not available. Teacher-pupil ratios are high, while the general performance in examinations is poor and the graduates have low levels of competencies in the work environment.”
With this report, the state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, whose administration underscored the importance of basic education, has been investing hugely in primary and junior secondary school education through massive investment in school infrastructure and facilities.
Towards this end, the governor said his administration had made salient efforts and readiness through the support of UBEC to approve and support programme that would improve the quality of education and access across the state.
The Chairman of NSUBEB, Alhaji Alhassan Bawa, while reeling out the achievements of the state government in education, however, disclosed that the Board had received and spent the sum of N6,662,054,407:11k on the sector in six years.
“Within the short period that the administration has been in office, it has been able to pay its counterpart funds which made it possible for SUBEB to access the 2013 UBEC matching grants or intervention fund,” he said.
However, the opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party had faulted the Board’s claim, saying: “It has become a conduit pipe for siphoning government resource. We maintain that the over N6 billion so far spent is not commensurate with reality on the ground.”
According to Bawa, since the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme was introduced as a strategy for the achievement of the Education For All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the development of education through appropriate forms of complementary approaches to the provision and promotion of basic education, as well as physical structures, has made teaching and learning more attractive.
Bawa, while addressing journalists at the press conference held at the Government House, Minna, recalled that the Board since 2015, had so far trained more than 16,000 teachers.
While also giving the breakdown of the matching grants accessed by the state between 2013 and 2018, he said that Niger State was up-to-date in accessing its UBEC matching grants for the improvement of the basic education sub-sector.
According to him, the state accessed N1,030,797,297.30k in 2013; N952,297,297.30k in 2014; N876,756,756.75k in 2015; N1,042,027,027.01k in 2016; N1,286,343,183.55k in 2017; and N1,473,832,845.20k in 2018, bringing the total amount accessed to N6,662,054,407.11k.
He said: “We have scaled up interventions in the education sector with our development partners. The Board has constructed 1,313 classrooms; renovated 1,010 structures, rehabilitated 22 schools; provided 960 toilets; built 20 high rise school buildings; constructed perimeter fencing in 20 schools and provided 70 boreholes in schools across the state between 215 and 2018.
“We are going to give employment letters to a total of 2,500 teachers, who are expected to resume work next month (November).”
As part of the silent revolution, the SUBEB Chairman, however, noted that the total enrollment in primary schools in the state had risen to 721,977 pupils and 21,767 teachers, while there are 193,304 students and 3,989 teachers in the junior secondary schools.
But, despite the efforts, stakeholders in the state’s education project, especially the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has criticised the state government over the amount spent on basic education in the last six years, saying it did not commensurate with the improvement witnessed so far in the sub-sector.
Its Deputy Chairman, Yusuf Makusidi, said: “The PDP is surprised that the joke has been taken too far when the SUBEB Chairman in his claim, said the Board had employed 2,500 teachers to resume work in November, and in the same vein claimed that over N6.6 billion had been spent on various basic education in primary and junior secondary schools.”
In the party’s appraisal of the sub-sector, he said they find this as spite on the faces of the people of the state, especially the qualified and willing-to-work youths, who were not aware of the recruitment of the 2,500 teachers as announced by the state government.
But, while responding, Bawa further noted that the state government had been deeply involved in the improvement of the state’s schools, saying that based on this premise the operations of the SUBEB covered the coordination and management of schools across the 25 Local Government Education Authorities (LGEAs) in the state in order to ensuring that provision of qualitative education gets to the grassroots by making functional education accessible to the children so as to make the high illiteracy rate a thing of the past in the state.
“As a matter of fact, Niger State has left no stone unturned in funding NSUBEB through the Ministry of Local Government, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and other development partners,” the board chairman added.
Also, further statistics by the Board indicates that there are 3,034 primary schools in the state with a total enrolment of 635,747 pupils, comprising 357,827 boys and 277,910 girls, while in the statistics shows that there are 4,406 junior secondary schools with a total 168,656 pupils, comprising 101,290 boys and 67,366 girls respectively.
He added that the recent demographic statistics given the favourable and enabling teaching and learning environment provided by the state government also indicated that the number of pupils registered in primary schools throughout the state in the last few years has risen to 635,737 pupils made up of 357,827 boys and 1,910 girls.
“The enrolment in junior secondary school has also surged to 168,656 students, made up of 101,290 male and 673,660 female students,” Bawa noted.
The effective utilization of the training intervention fund, according to SUBEB, is geared towards improving the capacity of teachers and managers, who are being coordinated by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) for effective delivery of basic education.
The SUBEB chair, who expressed delight over the development of basic education through adequate funding of the system, insisted that without doubt the state government was extremely committed to sustaining the Almajiri/Tsangaya education programme through relative consistent funding to achieve effective results in educating the children.
But despite the avowed commitment of the government and significant progress so far made in some areas, the Board, Bawa hinted is still facing many challenges and hurdles, such as the urgent need to tackle the high incidence of out-of-school children, prevalent in the northern states, which is affecting children mainly from the poor socio-economic background and those in rural communities.
He said: “There are still other challenges to be tackled for the state to make more appreciable progress despite the achievements recorded by the Board. These include accessing the intervention funds; adequate quality of teachers and performance that are still low due to low capacity, irregular payment of teacher’s salaries and poor motivation in the sub-sector.
“Other challenge confronting the State Universal Basic Education Board in achieving its goals are the lack of sufficient capacity development opportunities to cover the large size of primary school teachers, as well as shortage of qualified teachers for core subjects.
“Also, there is inadequate quality assurance monitoring mechanism due to capacity gap of monitoring officers in the face of the inadequate N10 million allocation for the Teachers Professional Development (TPD) fund and, the inadequate logistics, as well as proper funding of monitoring exercise that has definitely been slowing down the work of the Board in the state.”
As a way forward, the Board Chairman, however, suggested that Federal Government should as a matter of urgent consideration remove or reduce the matching grant requirement for accessing the UBEC intervention funds to less the 50 per cent in order to take the Board to the next level in the delivery of functional basic education.
“Without the necessary increased resource mobilization, governance reforms would only have limited impact on access, equity and quality of education provision, and this might not help in improving basic education outcomes,” he also added.
Towards this end, Bawa appealed to the state government to place teacher’s salary on first line charge allocation, while the Teachers Professional Development should be sustained through state complementary efforts.
For the board to record more success in the state, he advocated that aggressive mechanism should be in place to attract qualified teachers into the system with a view to enhancing their performance.
“This should pave way for quality assurance monitoring to be sustained, including training and retaining of quality assurance officers that will help to improve the service of officers,” the Board further stressed.
Besides, it is also recommended that measures should be devised by the state government to provide logistics and funding for Quality Assurance Monitoring, while payment of teachers’ salary should be reverted to State Universal Basic Education Board in order to avoid undue delay currently characterising regular payment of their salary.
If this is done, according to SUBEB, it would enhance the productivity of teachers who in turn will be more committed and dedicated to offer the best in their place of service.
Rivers wins 2019 Lafarge Africa National Literacy competition
As the curtains have been lowered on this year’s edition of the 2019 Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition (LANLC), Rivers State Government is still savouring the outstanding performance of its primary school pupils in the context.
The state emerged as the overall winner of the sixth edition of competition, with the theme “Bridging the Literacy Gap Together.”
To do the state proud at the grand finale of the competition, were Master David Emmanuella and Miss Barikpoa Prosper from Community Primary School, Rivers State, who won the first prize, while Ogun and Enugu States came second and third respectively.
For their brilliant performance, the winners were awarded scholarships to complete their secondary school education, trophies and various gifts at the finals, which took place at the Ballroom, Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The event, which attracted key stakeholders in the private and public sectors, including traditional rulers, bank executives, captains of industry and members of the academia, also availed the children the opportunities to engage and interact with themselves, explore various book exhibition stands, take reading sessions as well as participate in spelling bee competition.
Welcoming guests to the event, the Chairman of Lafarge Africa Plc, Mr. Mobolaji Balogun, said: “Literacy is crucial to the development of any society and it is described by UNESCO as a driver for sustainable development in that it enables greater participation in the labour market; improved child and family health and nutrition; as well as reduces poverty and expands life opportunities.”
Dignitaries at the event included the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, who was the special guest; representative of the Minister of Education; Mr. A. Agada; Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele; wife of Ogun State Governor, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun and her counterparts in Cross River State, Mrs. Lynda Ayade and Gombe State, Hajia Asma’u Yahaya; Mrs. Babatunde, who represented wife of Lagos State Governor; Mrs. Bolanle Ishola, who stood in for Executive Secretary of UBEC, and Lagos State Education Commissioner, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, among others.
According to him, Lafarge Africa, over the years has continued to invest in education interventions, especially in the areas of award of scholarships and bursary to children within its host communities; training programmes, renovation and construction of classroom blocks, as well as provision of facilities in schools, computer IT training and skills acquisition programmes, among others.
The Country Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Africa, Mr. Michel Puchercos, however, commended the students that participated at every stage of the competition, saying: “It is rewarding to watch these brilliant children grow and improve every year. We dream of a bright future for every Nigerian child through basic education.
“Six years on, the visible outcomes we have seen encouraged us to do more. We have touched the lives of more than 700,000 primary school pupils in 1,665 schools across 544 local government areas of the country. The competition covered all the 109 senatorial districts across all 36 states of the federation and the FCT.”
The yearly competition, according to him, is being organised with the support of the State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) in all the states of the federation, in collaboration with Ovie Brume Foundation and TEP centre, its implementing partners.
Meanwhile, the Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development Director, Lafarge Africa, Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, in her remarks, said the objective of the competition was to create more literacy enhancement opportunities for indigent students across the country.
She added: “We have been doing this successfully for the past five years and we are quite happy with the positive impact made so far. This year, we are excited to have existing and new partners on board, including the British Council, Sterling Bank and Oando Foundation. We look forward to what we will achieve together. We believe that as we continue on this journey, there is room for more partnerships as there is a still a lot to be done.”
She described the competition as part of the company’s overall sustainable development strategy, and sustainability ambition which has four pillars – Climate and Energy, Circular Economy, Environment and Community – each with specific actions and targets to ensure that it achieved the set ambitions.
The overall winners, who were also awarded scholarships to complete their secondary school education, however, thanked the organisers and expressed delight over the opportunity availed them to participate in the competition.
The initiative was launched in 2014, as a flagship CSR intervention of Lafarge Africa Plc, and the Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition has since grown to become an annual national initiative positively impacting children and teachers across the country.
“For a country like Nigeria, there is an urgent need to work towards securing a sustainable future. We believe that a sustainable future will enable growth, global peace and security and technological advancement. We need to prepare our children for a future, where they will compete globally with ease and that future begins with improving the literacy levels of every Nigerian child today,” Balogun added.
As a company, he said they were proud of this achievement, even as he expressed belief that it would inspire more well-meaning Nigerians and citizens across African continent, and the world to contribute towards improving the lives of the people around them, in any way they could.
Also, in his remarks, the Emir, Muhammad Sanusi II, commended the company for taking up the initiative to bridge the nation’s wide literacy gap, urging other companies to join hands against illiteracy.
“We spend a lot on government and infrastructure, but there isn’t enough being spent on education of children,” the monarch added.
FG to plan smooth running of education sector – Okebukola
The former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola, has reiterated that the critical responsibility of government at all levels is to lay down policies for the smooth running and development of the education system.
This was as he said that beyond policy formulation, standards setting and policy implementation and other roles within this global picture, the government (federal, state and local) should carry the funding burden of between 70 and 80 per cent of the education sector at this stage of development of the country.
Okebukola, however, bemoaned the paltry N48 billion proposed by Federal Government in the 2020 budget for capital expenditure for a vast and critical sector like education, saying: “There is the need for improved funding to education and enforcement of transparency and accountability in the financing of education.
On the role of stakeholders in the sectoral development, he stressed: “All stakeholders in the nation’s education project have roles to play in redeeming the poor image of the sector.”
Towards this end, the Professor of Science Education added that government, teachers, parents, learners, the media, religious organisations, private sector, non-governmental organisations and local communities, and others, should play their roles to enhance the sector.
Okebukola disclosed this in his keynote address delivered at an international colloquium organised to mark the 80th birthday anniversary of Professor Olu Aina, a renowned scholar, leading university administrator and Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) Consultant, which took place in Osogbo, Osun State.
The theme of the colloquium is “The Place and State of Education in Nigeria’s Development: Imperative and Urgency of Reform,” with a subtitle: “Can the Dry Bones of Quality Education Rise Again?”
He, however, described Prof. Aina as legendary, globally-renowned scholar, anti-corruption crusader, Africa’s best Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) Consultant, leading university administrator and a man with the kindest heart.
While reviewing the state of education and the ongoing reforms in the country, he hinted that the fault in the system was not due to any other, but the stakeholders as architects of the nation’s misfortunes, but expressed optimism that they could turnaround to be architects of our fortune.
On policy formulation, Okebukola noted that cross-national comparisons had confirmed that the Nigerian National Policy on Education and policies enacted at the state and local government levels were among the best in the world, but regretted that when viewed in the light that the system for which these good policies are enacted, the country is among the weakest in the world due to the deficiency in policy implementation of the policies.
In his paper, he, however, suggested five steps that would take education to the “Promised Land,” which according to him include the urgent need to build and resource Nigerian schools to meet international standards and to be learner friendly.
Besides, he recommended the training of a new breed of 21st Century teachers who are steeped in the use of modern methods of instruction and who will be at the cutting-edge of knowledge in their subject matter.
“There is the need also for the provision of a curriculum running from basic through higher education that will lead students to develop 21st Century skills and make them acquire values of good citizenship,” he suggested.
Okebukola also recommended the setting up of a national network of quality assurance system for basic education with state inspectorates of education as nodes, as well as improved funding to education and enforcement of transparency and accountability in the financing of education.
Nasarawa set to establish boarding schools for Almajiris
Worried by the menace of Almajiri children roaming the streets and begging for alms, Nasarawa State Government has taken steps to establish boarding schools in which to enroll them to acquire Islamic, functional and qualitative formal education.
There are several hundreds of Almajiri children between the age of seven and 10 years in Nasarawa State roaming the streets, who were said to have been allegedly brought to the state by their parents from far Northern states to the Mallams, in search of Islamic knowledge.
Meanwhile, the Bilingual Education Programme (BEP), an Islamic Development Bank funded programme with headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is taken steps to build three boarding schools in each of the three senatorial district of the state to enroll the Almajiri children.
Under the programme, which will take the children off the streets, they will be equipped with the ability and skills to speak, write English language fluently, interpret Arabic, and Mathematics.
The programme, according to the state, which described the menace of Alimajiri as a matter of public concern, is aimed at improving the socio-economic of the country through provision of quality basic education geared towards attaining the Universal Basic Education with emphasis on a strategy to mop up the Almajiris from the streets and integrate them into the mainstream of the education system.
The state Bilingual Education Programme Project Manager, Hajiya Zainab Magaji, said: “The children will be equipped with the ability to speak, write, interpret Arabic and English language fluently.”
Hajiya Magaji explained this during a meeting with Chairmen/Alarama of the Association of Tsangaya (Almajiris) held at the Conference Hall of the Project Management Unit (PMU) in Lafia, the state capital.
According to her, Nasarawa State, which is leading the other nine states – Borno, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Niger and Osun States – in the implementation of the Bilingual Education Programme and included in the framework agreement signed on the March 15, 2019 between the Federal Government and the Islamic Development Bank in Abuja, will enroll over 300 Almajiri children in the schools.
She further disclosed that the financier of the project would build and equip the boarding schools as well as provide the manpower, while state and other stakeholders would be responsible for the feeding and other welfare needs of the children.
“The main objective of the bilingual education programme is to take the Almajiris off the streets and integrate them into the mainstream of the education system, which will equip with the ability to speak, write, interpret Arabic and English language fluently,” she added.
Hajiya Magaji, therefore, called on stakeholders to assist in ensuring the success of the programme in the state, even as she called on well-meaning individuals, philanthropists and corporate organisations to support the programme.
Also speaking during the meeting, Chairmen of Almajiri Schools in the state, Muhammad Ali, who decried the alarming influx of Almajiris into the state, said there was no verse in the Holy Quran that encouraged street begging, and called for an end to the trend.
The representative of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Umar said Almajiri children were often used as tools for crime, and called on stakeholders to put hands on deck to remedy the situation.
Other speakers at the meeting, including Shuaibu Galadima; Hajiya Fatima Iyimoga; the President of the state chapter of the National Council of Women Societies, Hajiya Aisha Idoma and Director, Child Development in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Yomi Adagazu, condemned street begging and called on parents to be more responsive to the welfare and needs of their children.
Mrs. Adagazu, who frowned at street begging, however, warned that the ministry would not hesitate to evoke the Child Rights Law to apprehend any child begging on the streets for whatever guise and advised parents to take responsibility for their children seriously.
New Telegraph, however, learnt that some of the activities penciled down in order to achieve success of the programme include enrollment of Almajiris in school, mapping exercise for the Almajiri schools, Baseline survey and organising meetings, advocacy visits and awareness creation, using mass media among other activities.
Lawmaker lauds FG over appointment of Salami as UNIBEN VC
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Compliance, Hon. Dennis Idahosa, has commended the Federal Government over the appointment of Prof. Lillian Salami as substantive Vice-Chancellor for the University of Benin (UNIBEN).
Prof. Salami, who succeeds Prof. Osasere Orumwense would be the second female Vice-Chancellor to be appointed to that position, in the history of the university, after Prof. Grace Alele-Williams, a Professor of Mathematics.
Idahosa, who represents Ovia Federal Constituency of Edo State in the National Assembly, had in a statement made available to newsmen in Benin, the state capital, said that the move had further attested to the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government is gender sensitive.
He also insisted that the commendation was not only because the new Vice -Chancellor is a woman, but also because of her track record of achievements and credentials, as well as one who would positively impact on the growth of the institution.
“Prof. Lilian Salami needs no introduction in the academic world, as she has distinguished herself in the service of the University of Benin over the years and her leadership skills are not in doubt,” the lawmaker added, saying: “I make bold to say that her appointment is thoroughly deserved, as her proven track records in the academia are there for all to see, as she has risen through the ranks to the pinnacle of her career.”
Idahosa added: “While acknowledging the strides of the outgoing Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Osasere Orumwense, I have so much confidence that Prof. Salami would bring her wealth of experience to bear in the administration of the university and to consolidate the enviable legacies of the institution in the next five years.”
He, therefore, urged the management of the university, as well as other members of the university community, to close ranks and work together for the overall growth of the institution.
Mrs. Lillian Salami is a Professor of Home Economics/Nutritional Education, was named the 10th substantive Vice-Chancellor of the UNIBEN by the Federal Government last Friday to succeed Prof. Osasere Orumwense, whose tenure five-year single term had expired.
Academy seeks review of school curriculum
The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) has advocated the review of school curriculum in primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions with a view to impacting the work environment in the country.
President of NAS, Prof. Mosto Onuoha, who made the call, said it had become necessary to begin to prepare Nigerian citizens from primary, secondary and tertiary institution, based on new trends in other parts of the world, where the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data, had brought innovations to work places and working environment.
According to him, in other countries where role of the AI had impacted, “lifestyles are changing so radically and we need to make sure that our people are not left out.”
Onuoha made the call at the workshop on “the impact of big data and AI on education and training in Nigeria,” which took place in Lagos.
The major objective of the programme, which was organised by the NAS, was to bring together relevant stakeholders to chart a new direction for quality and functional training and education in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
While explaining the rationale behind the move, he said: “If you notice, you will realise that the future of work in our environment and society, and especially how we work is endangered.”
To this end, Onuoha added: “We need to catch up. We need to do what other people are doing,” adding that the discourse was about the future of work in Nigeria in the next 20 years, and what the working environment would look like.
“Although, some people are already doing this elsewhere, we are not in this clime. The role that AI and big data will play is what we have to start preparing for right from primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions,” he added.
While calling for the required review of school curriculum, Onuoha urged relevant authorities to vote more funds to basic education and research development.
He noted that the Chinese were not getting degrees, but properly education in applications, saying: “The competition is on in other nations and we do not want to be left far behind as a country.”
According to the NAS President, the needed review is about changes in orientation that would lead to applications and innovations in the school system.
He, therefore, condemned the rote learning currently being practised in which students memorise the content and reproduce same without the desire delivery, stressing that the proposed change would encourage thinking out of the box for solutions that could be marketed.
“All is about creating wealth almost from nothing,” Onuoha reiterated.
Sanwo-Olu to students: Shun drug abuse, cultism
Disturbed by the increasing rate of social vices and rising crime rate in the Lagos State, especially among students of higher institutions, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has challenged the students of Lagos State University (LASU) and other students to abstain from drug abuse and eschew all forms of vices to enable them to actualise their ambition.
This is as the governor, who declared zero tolerance for crimes and social vices, warned that their lofty dreams could be hampered if they engaged in cultism, rape, indecent dressing, examination malpractices, drug abuse and other ungodly habit common among youths.
The governor, who spoke through the Special Adviser of Civic Engagement, Princess Aderemi Adebowale during a sensitisation campaign on curbing social vices at LASU, insisted that the days of brazen disobedience to the law in the higher institutions are over as efforts were being made to deal with rising cases of cultism and drug abuse in the institution.
Sanwo-Olu regretted that most students engaged in social vices due to peer group influence and pressure, stressing that drug abuse, cultism and other social vices would add no value to their lives other than to destroy their ambition and aspirations.
The governor, who also said the security of lives and property remained the top priority of his administration, warned students to desist from any act of criminality as security operatives in all formations had been urged not to spare any effort in keeping the peace in the state.
He said: “Over the years, these vices, particularly cultism, drug abuse and rape, have been very rampant in our institutions of higher learning, and as all sorts of acts that violate societal norms and values are being perpetrated brazenly. Safety of lives and property could no longer be guaranteed on campuses as students engage in cult war, attacking and killing one another in broad daylight.
“Our institutions of higher learning, like any others worldwide, are designed to prepare the youths for positive contributions to society in any capacity they may find themselves in the near future, but what we see today is the breach of societal expectations.
Indeed, something urgent must be done for us to salvage our state and, by extension, the nation from inglorious path. Hence this attitude will impact negatively on their future, which they may end up regretting.”
The governor said that youths, who are the future of the state and indeed the country, should not be allowed to continue to drift through their engagement in social vices, saying the institutions were designed to prepare youths for positive contributions to society
Lagos, according to Sanwo-Olu, must not be a safe haven for crimes, especially in higher institutions, and students should abstain from all forms of crimes as law enforcement officers have been directed to maintain constant security surveillance across the state in order to flush out criminals from their hideouts.
Meanwhile, he assured students of the commitment of his administration to ensure better welfare in the institutions, saying that the residents deserved a premium quality of security to justify the resources being committed by the state to fund security agencies’ operations.
The governor, who also sensitised the students on his administration’s six-pillar developmental agenda, tagged: T.H.E.ME.S, and noted that the government would not hesitate to keep to its responsibility in supporting and motivating the students to demonstrate good character and exceptional qualities.
On his part, the Commander, Rapid Respond Squad (RRS), ACP Olatunji Disu, who was represented by his second in command, ACP Olawale Ajao, blamed the growing cases of cultism in the institution of higher learning on failed parental roles, lamenting that most parents have abdicated their roles by not spending the required time with their wards.
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