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Stakeholders’ recipe for education sector development

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Stakeholders’ recipe for education sector development
  • ASUU: We need a minister who can reposition Nigeria’s education
  • Education Rights Campaign: Budget to sector nose-diving

 

 

ASSESSMENT

Stakeholders are not comfortable with the low pace of the nation’s education development in the last 20 years of democratic government, particularly the last four years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration

 

 

Twenty years of democratic government, mixed feelings have continued to trail the nation’s education sector, which critical stakeholders lamented is still not only wobbling, but also lacks the strength to revolutionise the socio-economic and political development of the country.

Appraising the sector in the last 20 years and four years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, stakeholders such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), scholars, and civil society groups, among others, wondered that like many other sectors, the education industry had been bogged down by various challenges besetting its growth. With 11 Ministers between 1999 and 2019, they, however, expressed dismay that the sector had failed to marshal strategic plans that would lead Nigeria out of its present woods.

They listed some of the numerous challenges hamstrung, and crises stagnating the sector to include policy somersault, acute under-funding with less than 15 per cent of the nation’s fiscal budget being voted to education in the last 20 years, incessant strikes by staff unions (especially in tertiary institutions), high tuition fees, brain drain syndrome, poor facilities, inadequate qualified teachers, shortage of classroom facilities, ineffective curriculum, mass failure and examination malpractice in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).

Worse still, while many students are learning under trees and sheds, and many are sitting on dust infested floor to acquire education in some schools in the country, some communities are without primary school to cater for the education needs of the children in the 21st Century. Under budgetary allocation to the sector which has consistently failed to measure up to the 26 per cent UNESCO benchmark in the last 20 years, the Federal Government in 2015 allocated N484,263,784,654 (10.78%); 2016 – N480,278,214,639 (7.92%); 2017 – N550,597,184,148 (7.40%); and 2018 – N605,800,080,038 (7.04%) and in 2019, the government voted about 7.05 per cent of the total budget, translating to N620.5 billion to the sector. Meanwhile, the face-off between the Federal Government and ASUU, which led to prolonged closure of the public university system, is yet to be resolved as the union claimed it merely suspended its last strike, pending the implementation of the agreements reached with the government.

Though, successive governments at the federal level have in the last 20 years initiated several moves, which have also failed to reinvent the wheel of the sector and bring about the needed tonic for development due to lack of political will on the part of government and other policy makers.

Some of the steps taken by the government between 1999 and 2019 to restructure and reconstruct Nigeria’s education sector, but which are yet to bring about the needed growth, include approval of licences for establishment of about 74 private universities across the country; reintroduction of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) under the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) for the development of basic education component of the sector; establishment of more public higher institutions; introduction of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and the NEEDS Assessment geared towards providing funding intervention for the sector from basic education to tertiary institutions. Others are the Treasury Single Account (TSA) designed to ensure financial transparency in the government establishments; the Federal Government Reading Campaign and rehabilitation of National libraries; the Home Grown School Feeding Programme introduced by the President Buhari’s administration for which N500 billion under the Social Investment Programme (SIP) was appropriated between 2016 and 2017 (covering over 26 states of the federation, with other states to join the programme); and professionalisation of the teaching profession through the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), which undertakes the continuous professional development of teachers with current and up-to-date materials and technology. Commenting on the school feeding programme recently in Ekiti State during the launch of the programme, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, however, said each state participating in the programe would contribute 40 per cent, while the Federal Government shoulders 60 per cent. According to the Vice President, so far no fewer than 9.3 million pupils from over 56,506 primary schools across the country are currently benefiting from the programme, while over N5.6 billion had been spent since it was kicked off four years ago, as one of the fourm components of the Social Investment Programmes initiated by President Buhari’s administration.

The programme is aimed at boosting enrolment and retention of pupils in primary schools across the federation with over 24 million school children in the 36 states of the federation, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja as targets. Despite all these efforts and numerous others undertaken by the government, the sector has not been able to move the nation forward due to the crisis of insufficient funds on the part of government to make the initiatives work.

It is, however, pathetic that today, the country, based on statistics from the United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) has about 13.2 million outof- school children, the highest in the world after Pakistan, while according to a civil society group working in the Northern part of the country, the population of Almajiri children has grown from about 10,000 to 14,000.

Presently, apart from insufficient number of higher institutions in the country, most of the institutions, especially the government-owned are facing acute under-funding, lack of expansion and poor infrastructure to either deliver their mandates or provide access for the teeming youths, seeking higher education.While appraising the sector recently, Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said Nigeria would require N2 trillion annually to fix education sector in order to address the enormous challenges confronting the system.

This was as he pointed out that the Federal Ministry of Education had in the last four years spent N1.338 trillion on capital projects, as well as reduced charges in Unity School, UTME registration fees and other examinations. Analysing the education budget, the Minister said that in 2019, the sector got about 7.05 per cent of the total budget, translating to N620.5 billion, recording a marginal increase over the total of N605.8 billion budgeted for the sector in 2018.

“This falls below the 15 to 20 per cent minimum percentage recommended for developing countries by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to enable countries meet their education needs,” he added.

In his valedictory press briefing, tagged: “Our Stewardship in the Last Four Years,” Adamu said: “In terms of improving funding for the sector, I am optimistic that the Federal Government will expeditiously look into the recommendations we have made in that respect because no nation cannot rise above the standard of its education.”

He said within the last four years of transforming the sector on all fronts, the Federal Government spent the amount for the provision of infrastructural and manpower development in basic, secondary and tertiary education, as well as increasing the carrying capacity and creating unfettered access to education at all levels for the young ones.

In the area of capital expenditure, he noted that UBEC interventions in states recorded a total of N350 billion, while TETFund and NEEDS Assessment interventions recorded N857 billion with the ministry and other agencies recording N86 billion, amounting to N1.338 trillion in four years. This figure, according to the Minister, is aside the N25 billion recently approved for public universities in the country.

The Minister, who apologised to Nigerians that he failed to reduce the number of out- of-school-children (OSC) in the country by half at the end of his four-year tenure, said he was able to reduce the figure from 13 million to about 10.1 million, which is still the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa and perhaps in the world.

As part of moves to address the challenges of education, Adamu hinted that President Buhari had given assent to the bill seeking the establishment of a National Commission for Secondary Schools (NCSS), while the fees paid by students of Federal Government Colleges had been reviewed downward with effect from the next academic session commencing in September. Meanwhile, the National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, while speaking with New Telegraph, said rather than glossing over the challenges and problems of the sector, he sought painstaking approaches that would address the fundamental sectoral crises.

Therefore, as a way forward, he called on President Buhari to appoint a Minister of Education who knows what it takes to reposition Nigeria’s education for global reckoning. Ogunyemi stressed: “The Minister must be well-grounded in the history and trajectory of education so as to realise that there was a time when the nation’s education, particularly public university education, was the envy of all in Africa.

“The Minister must also have the clout to build on the uncompleted project of the immediate past Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu on education funding by raising the annual budgetary allocation to at least 20 per cent in next four years.

The second major area of change, which ASUU will like to see under the new dispensation, is for government to drop the envelope budgeting system which has adversely affected public universities and return to the needs-based budgeting.” According to ASUU, such budget profile would enable government to implement a number of agreements and memoranda (including the 2009 FG/ASUU Agreement, the 2013 MoU and 2019 MoA) it signed with ASUU and other trade unions in the sector. Besides, he said Ogunyemi told New Telegraph that the budget would also enable the country to design the education system for achieving national goals, as well as for Nigeria to free itself from the pit of underdevelopment into which it has been plunged.

While stressing the need for a comprehensive review and harmonisation of the country’s educational policies towards bringing them in tune with the reality of today’s Nigeria, the ASUU President regretted what he described as hike in school fees from primary school level to university level. According to him, a situation in which education has been priced beyond the reach of the poor is a recipe for increased corruption, unproductive economy and complete breakdown of law and order.

“So, it is time the government made access to qualitative education free at all levels and backed the declaration with appropriate policy enforcement,” Ogunyemi noted, adding that this would be in the long-term interests of hapless Nigerians, who are already looking for a leadership that could rescue them from the afflictions of ignorance, diseases and poverty. Also, on his part, the National Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Mr. Hassan Taiwo Soweto, described President Buhari-led Federal Government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) first term as being a huge disappointment in the area of public education. According to him, not only did budgetary allocations to the sector nose-dive dangerously, the country also witnessed many disruptions in tertiary sub-sector as a result of strikes by academic and nonacademic staff. While condemning the Federal Government for not implementing the agreements signed with ASUU and other staff unions, he noted that the poor welfare of academic and non-academic staff, as well as the poor workingenvironmenthadledtobrain drain of scholars to foreign lands.

“At the moment, we have an acute shortage of teaching staff and laboratory technologists, among other retinue of workers in the tertiary sub-sector. Similar situation is confronting the students in the last four years, while the government never thought it wise to increase budgetary allocation to education,” Hassan added.

To him, though the argument before was that the country was in recession, and despite that Nigeria had since come out of the recession, the situation of underfunding has persisted. “Except TETFund enabled projects, no real improvement had come the way of teaching and learning infrastructure in the tertiary institutions in the last four years,” Hassan said, adding that beyond the school feeding programme, the government needed to improve the condition of public education system with adequate, well-trained and well-remunerated teachers, textbooks, libraries and other facilities for the initiative to lead to overall improvement in enrolment, retention and quality at basic education level.

As a way forward, Hassan, however, reiterated the call for better funding of public education and democratic management of schools, saying: “I have no doubt that Nigeria has the resources to provide free and quality public education at all levels. This is the only way we can achieve a sustainable basis public education that will leapfrog the economy.” Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Dr. Masa’udu Kazaure, who bemoaned the poor budgetary allocation by some state government, especially to the polytechnic institutions, recalling that the Board, had to stop the Quality Assurance exercise in some polytechnic due to lack the funds by the institutions to pay their staff salary.

“How can a polytechnic that cannot pay its staff salary fund quality assurance exercise? It is very bad,” he noted. In his assessment of education sector in the last four years, the Executive Secretary, told New Telegraph that there had been steady growth in private sector participation and involvement in the education sector. And since the government alone could not fund education, he added that the joy of it all was that private investors are coming more into the system, adding that generally there are other funding sources such as TETFund, UBEC, PTDF, USAID, World Bank and other International Development Partners that combined with Federal Government to fund the sector.

“And, when we combine all these we will realise that the funds are far above the 26 per cent some of the unions are talking about,” Kazaure noted. Also to a Lagos State University (LASU) don and Dean of School of Transport, Prof. Samuel Odewunmi, education in the last four years of Buhari’s administration has been on “life support system.” “It is on autopilot just gliding without any noticeable thrust. TETFund and UBEC are the main engines of infrastructural development. TETFund is the saving grace for tertiary institutions in terms of physical infrastructure and human capacity enhancement. It is the sole funding source for training, conference and research,” Odewunmi said. The lecturer, who insisted that education was never listed in the government’s topmost agenda, lamented how ASUU had been shouting itself hoarse about the inadequacies of the system, which he recalled had led to strike on several occasions in the last four years without any sign of resolving the problem. Odewunmi, who in his assessment of the sector pointed out that the high figure of out-of-school children, bore testimony to the gross neglect of the sector, however, said: “It may not be catastrophically bad, but there is no remarkable performance worthy of mention in the sector in the last few years.

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Education

Nigerian twins shine in UK GCSE exams

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Nigerian twins shine in UK GCSE exams

The Ark Globe Academy in Elephant and Castle in London was a few days ago celebrating its best ever results, with twin sisters from Nigeria part of the success story.

According to identical twins Kehinde and Deborah Sowole, 16, sibling rivalry spurred them on to achieve top grades, including a raft of eights in their exam which is the equivalent of WAEC in Nigeria.

Head teacher Matt Jones said: “This is the best progress the pupils have made in the school’s history …despite the increasing challenges and the rigour of the exams.”

Another outstanding student of the academy was Sara Sasvari, 16, who was among the highest achievers with eight top grades, and now wants to become a theoretical physicist.

Her success is even more remarkable as she moved to London from Hungary in 2014 and could not speak English. She has also been diagnosed with Stargardt Disease which affects her sight. She said: “I’m really happy and proud of myself. It’s been a lot of hard work.”

The GCSE results, which were released across the UK a few days ago, showed that girls are closing the gap on boys in maths and physics.

This year 15.2 per cent of girls taking maths were awarded top grades of either 7, 8 or 9 – equivalent to A or A* in the old qualifications – up from 14.7 per cent last year.

Meanwhile, the proportion of boys scoring top grades fell from 16.8 per cent last year to 16.6, meaning that the gap between boys and girls has now narrowed from 2.1 to 1.4 percentage points

Girls are catching up with boys in physics, where the gap has narrowed from 5.7 to 3.9 percentage points.

Boys are still winning a higher proportion of top grades (45.7 per cent) but girls increased their share of 7s, 8, and 9s from 39.6 per cent last year to 41.8 per cent this year.

Girls already outperform boys at chemistry and biology GCSEs as well as Computing despite the fact that more than three times as many boys take the subject than girls.

But computing is increasing in popularity among girls, and this year the number of female entries for the subject increased by 14.5 per cent compared to a 5.9 per cent increase for boys.

*Courtesy: telegraph.co.uk and standard.co.uk

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CBN donates ‘Centre of Excellence’ worth N7bn to ABU

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CBN donates ‘Centre of Excellence’ worth N7bn to ABU

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday donated buildings named ‘CBN Centre of Excellence’ worth N7 billion to Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.

Speaking with newsmen during the inauguration of the project in Zaria, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele said the project was part of the apex bank’s intervention in education.

Emefiele explained that the centres would be delivered in phases and the first phase which comprised the University of Nigeria Nsukka, University of Ibadan and ABU Zaria were ready.

He said others that were under construction were University of Lagos, University of Port Harcourt, University of Jos, Bayero University, Kano and University of Maiduguri.

According to him, education and health are the bedrock of any nation’s development and there is the need to invest in them.

The governor said the purpose of establishing the centre was to have post-graduate studies in Economics, Accounting, Banking, Finance, Management and Marketing.

He said that the centre which had auditorium that could accommodate 500 students would compete with any business school in economics, banking and finance globally.

According to him, the hostel rooms are equipped with ICT facilities and an e-Library.

Emefiele said that when the centre becomes operational, programmes such as Forensic Accounting, Global Financial Market, Risk and Compliance Management would be run at the centre.

He said the bank would get involved in the facilities’ management to ensure the centre was not run down.

The governor also disclosed that the bank would bring in accounting specialists and practitioners working in central banks across the world to bring their wealth of experience to bear in the centre.

The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ibrahim Garba commended CBN for the gesture.

Garba said the donation of the centre was the highest intervention the university had ever received, adding that it would enhance academic learning, especially at post graduate level.

He said the centre had given the university the opportunity to establish a Business School to offer Economics, Accounting, Banking and Finance, Business Administration and Statistics in post graduate studies.

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Strike: Ekpoma ASUU members escape death as irate students attack Congress Venue

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Strike: Ekpoma ASUU members escape death as irate students attack Congress Venue

 

 

 

Activities were disrupted at the Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Ekpoma, Edo State as rampaging students attacked members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the university.
The students had protested Tuesday against the planned strike by ASUU members of the institution and disrupted a meeting called by the body to discuss the proposed sit at home order.
Some of the ASUU members escaped being lynched by the protesting students in the process.
New Telegraph learnt that information had reached the irate students where the Congress by the ASUU chapter of the university was taking place prompting them to storm the venue and swoop on the lecturers.
The students were infuriated that the Congress was holding at a time members of the non academic staff were already on a warning strike of their own.
It was learnt that the students threw stones, broken bottles and blocks into the venue of the meeting.
They also chanting solidarity songs such as “We no go gree”, “No more meetings leading to strike”, “We are tired of staying at home due to strike action.
Some of the ASUU members sustained injuries and were rushed to a private clinic at Ekpoma town.

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Robbery attacks: UI under siege

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Robbery attacks: UI under siege
  • Varsity imposes curfew, reels out new security rules
  • Parents: Recent experience worrisome
  • Students: Security came after robbers had left

 

ROBBERY ATTACKS

The management of the nation’s premier university, the University of Ibadan (UI) is currently having sleepless nights over incessant invasion and attack of the institution’s campus by armed robbers, who unleashed agony on the students

These are not the best of times for the students and other members of the University of Ibadan (UI) community.

The 61-year-old ivory tower is under siege of incessant robbery and attacks by armed bandits and hoodlums prowling the campus, robbing the students of their valuables and belongings.

Following the invasion and attacks on the campus by armed robbers invading the institution, the students are now living under fear and anxiety.

This is as the nation’s premier university, like other campuses, which was once revered as a safe haven and no-go-area for robbers, bandits and devoid of other forms of insecurity challenges, is today held in the jugular by armed bandits, who threatened and challenged the security and peace of the university community.

For the students and other members of the institution, the campus is no longer a safe abode, as they now live at the mercy of the armed robbers that invade and attack the campus.

The students’ predicament began on Thursday, July 11, 2019, when some 10 armed robbers invaded and attacked the Obafemi Awolowo Hall, a female hostel in the institution at night, leaving two of the students injured, while valuable items and belongings of the distraught students were carted away by the marauders.

In fact, when the students and the management, who are still counting their loses, and were yet to recover from the robbery incident and rough experience of July 11, exactly a month after, the robbers according to their earlier threat to come back, however struck again on Sunday, August 11, leaving in their trail loses, agony and lamentation.

This time it was at the Abdulsalam Abubakar Hall, which houses both male and female postgraduate students of the institution.

During the attack on the fateful night, the armed bandits successfully invaded only the female wing of the hostel, having reportedly tied up the security man on duty so as to carry out their sinister motive.

New Telegraph, however, learnt that two male students of the hostel, who challenged the robbers were said to have been inflicted with injuries through machete cuts by the thieves. The injured students were rushed to the Jaja Clinic of the university for treatment.

Piqued by the repeated cases of armed robbery on campus in recent times, the management, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka had on August 13 in a swift reaction imposed partial curfew on the campus as a means of precaution, as well as ordered a new security rules on the campus.

The curfew, according to the management, in a statement by the Vice-Chancellor, had since commenced on Wednesday August 14, from 12 midnight to 5.00 a.m.

Meanwhile, the decision to impose curfew on the campus was taken by the University Security Committee after a review of the security architecture of the institution.

Under the new security arrangement, the statement directed that all students and members of staff must present their identity cards when requested for by security operatives, while other members of the university community and visitors should also present themselves for security checks.

The directive also added that male visitors, especially to the female hostels or halls would no longer be allowed into the halls.

However, the management also ordered that all female guests should be screened before being allowed into the hostel areas.

“Any male visitor found loitering around female hostels beyond 8.30 p.m would be considered a threat and dealt with accordingly,” the university warned.

As part of measures to improve the security situation on campus, the management insisted that it would be reviewed in order to prevent future invasion of the university by robbers.

The robbery incident, which immediately went viral on social media, has become a source of worry not only to the students, but also to parents and guardians, who are now expressing anxiety over the safety of their wards.

Reacting to the incidents, the institution’s Director of Public Communication, Mr. Olatunji Oladejo, described the incessant invasion and attacks on the university as sad and unexpected, which he said were carried out about 1:30 a.m by the armed robbers.

However, further investigations by New Telegraph also revealed that the students during the robbery operation which lasted for about two hours were dispossessed of various items and valuables including mobile phones, laptops, cash and other valuables.

Oladejo said: “The robbers injured two students during their operation, who were immediately rushed to Jaja Clinic for treatment. Our Campus Security Service with combined efforts of the policemen from Bodija, Sango and Ojoo and the Oyo State Operation Burst, rushed to the scene of the robbery, but the bandits had already escaped.

“But, full investigations had already commenced and we want to assure all stakeholders that the robbers would soon be apprehended.”

Narrating their ordeal, one of the female students had said: “My hostel block was not attacked. But Block A, B and C of Awolowo Hall was attacked.  The robbers, who were all men and seven in number entered into the hall about 2a.m fully armed.

The female student, who did not want to be named, however, told New Telegraph that from her observation the robbers appeared to be familiar with the hostel if the way in which they moved from one room to the other in the hall, collecting students’ phones, laptops and other valuables was anything to go by.

“A lady was in the process assaulted with a sharp weapon and sustained deep cuts on her body. She was rushed to Jaja Clinic (the University Health Centre) for treatment,” the student added, saying: “The robbers threatened that they were coming back later but the university could not do anything to stop them. The university security operatives only came after the armed robbers had already left.”

Worried by the development, the student urged the management to provide the students and other members of the university community with adequate security, stressing the urgent need for the management to hire uniformed and armed security men, who would be able to protect the university and not security guards that have only whistles and batons.

“I want to believe that the ban of bikes is the cause of the current security problem. Since the ban of the bikes, the rate of robbery has increased on campus,” she pointed out.

But, when contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Gbenga Fadeyi, a Superintendent of Police, confirmed the incident, but said he had not been properly briefed and would call back.

With the attacks, some of the students, who spoke with New Telegraph, challenged the university authorities and security personnel to re-engineer and reorganise their strategies so as to beef up security on campus in order to prevent further occurrence.

She, therefore, lamented that the students were now living under palpable fear and anxiety.

While reacting to the incident, the Chairman of the University Council Committee on Security, Prof. Ademola Aremu, stated that the university was already reviewing the security design and that the police were also working hard to track the invaders.

“The invaders have shown a pattern in their operation by attacking female students and invading during holidays when halls are sparsely populated,” he noted.

As part of policies to guide against future recurrence, the management, Aremu hinted, had banned male visitors to the three female hostels – Awolowo Hall, Queen Idia Hall and Elizabeth Hall – since the attacks were carried out by males.

Also, under the new rule, he noted that any male visitors to the female hostels are now to be received outside the halls of residence.

And again, considering the fact that some female could be working with the male robbers, the university directed that all female guests to female hostels must be screened before being allowed into the campus, stressing that the curfew would continue indefinitely.

The statement by the Vice-Chancellor further read in part: “A major decision of the Committee is to enforce a partial curfew from 12 midnight till 5am as from tomorrow, Wednesday, 14th August, 2019. All students and members of staff should be able to produce a means of identification if and when accosted by security staff. This partial restriction of movement will be in place until further notice.

“Kindly ensure strict compliance, please, as part of efforts of ensuring the safety of all members of the community. In view of recent security situation on the campus, male visitors are henceforth prohibited from entering the above listed female Halls of Residence. Residents of the aforementioned halls can only receive their male visitors outside the halls. Female visitors should be screened at the Porters’ Lodge. Moreover, all male visitors are expected to leave the precincts of the female halls by 8:30 pm. Anyone found loitering will be regarded as a suspect.”

Meanwhile, Fadeyi, has given assurance on behalf of the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Shina Olukolu that investigations were already ongoing to nab the robbers, adding that the force was ready to complement the efforts of the university security personnel to prevent further occurrence.

While raising concern over the safety of their children and wards in the university, a parent, however, told New Telegraph that “the university authorities needed to brace up before this kind of worrisome incident continues.’

He added: “In fact, I must tell you that many parents are now afraid of allowing their female wards to continue to stay in hostels on campus. What many of us were afraid of before which prompted us to prefer our female children to live on campus is molestation and harassment by hoodlums, especially cultist who live on the suburbs of the institution. We cannot all be monitoring the safety of our children always because many of the parents reside outside Ibadan.

“The only solace we have is for our female wards to live on campus, as they will be protected from all forms of harassment or molestation. The university management for ages had been known to be equal to the task of maintaining and ensuring discipline, sanity and decorum on campus. To us, the university hostels were a haven of peace and safety for students.

“However, the recent experience has become worrisome. The authority needed to collaborate with the police to nip this trend in the bud. Unfortunately, this is a reflection of the general insecurity situation in the country due to joblessness and the get-rich-quick attitude of many youths. May God help us.”

 

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VC tasks contractors on timely delivery of projects

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VC tasks contractors on timely delivery of projects

The Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Minna (FUT Minna), Prof. Abdullahi Bala, has tasked consultants and contractors handling high impact projects in the institution to be dedicated and take the job seriously so as to deliver the projects on schedule.

The Vice-Chancellor gave the order during a meeting with the various project consultants, contractors and staff of the Directorate of Physical Planning and Development Unit (PPDU) of the university at the Council Chamber, main campus of the institution.

He said: “I want you to handle the projects strictly in line with the specifications and provisions of the contract agreement without any cost overrun or delay in their completion. Every member of staff of the Directorate of Physical Planning and Development Unit that are expected to supervise and monitor a specific project must document such, while the project consultants and contractors should be up and doing. You must take the job seriously, work in harmony and do the right thing.”

“High impact is a very special project because, if properly executed it will allow the university to move two of its faculties from Bosso campus to the main campus. Besides, it will also help in relieving the university of office and lecture rooms congestion on campus.”

Bala, who also disclosed that the university was developing in terms of career, however, insisted that whatever project that would be developed should be executed to its specifications and completed on schedule in terms of cost, duration and quality.

The Chief Marketing Officer of ZAR Constructions Limited, Zubairu M. Boroda, one of the contractors, said some of them were handling TETFund projects and their key concern was quality delivery and result.

He, therefore, assured the management that everyone involved in the project would come together to achieve the task.

At the handing over of site to the consultants and contractors, the Director of PPDU, Mr. Idris Alhassan, an architect, noted that the projects included the construction of the Faculties of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and the School of Information and Communication Technology, which have between 40 to 42 weeks duration for completion.

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Uba: Bauchi versity constrained by funds, poor road network

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Uba: Bauchi versity constrained by funds, poor road network

Professor Auwalu Uba is the Vice-Chancellor of the Bauchi State University (BSU), Gadau. He speaks with ALI GARBA about the university’s zero tolerance for cultism, examination malpractice and other vices, as well as challenges facing the university and efforts to address them

 

 

How have you been able to transform the university within the short span of your administration?

In fact, the secret behind the transformation of the university is firstly by God’s guidance. Secondly, we are focused, hardworking, diligence and prudent in management of the meagre resources available to the university. Again, we are able to attain the current level of transformation and development through various programmes and courses we introduced which are relevant to people. We did this as part of determination to fulfill one of our core mandates as a university, which is community service.

Most of the infrastructural projects in the university are funded through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) interventions. How were you able to facilitate this, when some institutions failed to access the funds?

Well, TETFund as a Federal Government interventionist agency in tertiary institutions is a development partner. Tertiary Education Trust Fund is a fund that it is made available to all public tertiary institutions across the federation and we are lucky to have been accessing our allocations regularly.

The structures you are seeing and the ones we have just flagged off their construction are not only on this campus, but also across the three campuses of the university. We have the Faculty of Social and Management Sciences at Bauchi campus; the Faculty of Agriculture at Jama’are, which we have planned to put into active operation very soon, and the Faculty of Law, where some structures had been put in place by the state government. Although, TETFund has also put in place some infrastructural projects, while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) under its corporate social responsibility initiative also executed some projects in the university. We have gain a lot from TETFund. We cannot just thank the agency and other development partners enough, but to say that we are most grateful.

What are the challenges confronting the university, and specifically your administration in achieving its vision?

Like other institutions of learning, we also have a lot of challenges since there is no institution in the world that is immune from challenges and problems. But, these challenges vary from one institution to the other. Every institution has its own peculiar challenges.

Specifically, one of the major challenges we have in this university is the poor road network on campus. As a university, we need good access roads on campus, and we are putting our requests to the Governor of the state and Visitor to the university, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, since he has given us the assurance that his doors are open always. So, we are pleading with him to help us to fix the access roads on our campus. That is the first major challenge facing us as an institution.

The other challenge is the porous nature of our campus, which within the limited resources available to us we have been able to construct part of the perimeter fence, but we are unable to complete the project. There is encroachment on our land by cattle farmers, who graze their animals on the university land and that is part of the reasons it is difficult for the ivory tower to plant crops and raise seedling for local farmers.

There are also other challenges facing the university, which include paucity of funds, and what we have are doing today to address part of the challenges was the flagging off some projects. Right behind the university sporting arena, you will notice that we have planted some crops across the fence which is about two kilometers, which was planted about three weeks ago.

And, of course, we intend to produce a shelter bell to protect our buildings and facilities.

Apart from the aforementioned challenges, the university is also faced with the problem of Wind Bell, and the challenge of lack of students’ hostels.

Lack of adequate hostel accommodation for our students is another challenge and since the Tertiary Education Trust Fund does not involve in the provision of hostels, because it only provides for academic infrastructure that directly affect academic activities.

There are other minor challenges, such as change of attitude among members of the university community. You will agree with me that change is the only thing that is permanent, but when you expect people to change the attitude for the better, it is always difficult. However, we thank God members of staff have already keying into this and we are all striving together to make the university a better place for sound academic, research and community service for the benefit of all and sundry.

When I took over the administration of the university about one and half years ago, our student population was a little over 5,000, but with the massive infrastructure development in Bauchi campus, where we now have about 42 lectures halls presently, some numbers of 500-capacity lecture theaters. With these facilities we can cater adequately for a large number of students.

In fact, our admission quota has increased astronomically. Let me add also that as we are speaking our students’ population has risen to about 13,700 and by the next two years, we expect the population to also increase in what we called our cruising altitude and by the time we attain that, we will continue to maintain that students’ population.

How have you been able stem examination malpractice, cultism and other vices on campus?

Let me say without ambiguity that most institutions around us here are cultism free and since I took over as Vice-Chancellor of the state university, we have not witnessed any incident of cult-related activity.

But, for examination malpractice, when I took over there were couple of cases due to lack of stringent regulations against the menace. Indeed, you will realise that students need to be well educated; they need to be carried along, and the students also need to be provided with regulations and enabling environment which we have provided and put in place to guide the students’ actions. As I am talking to you, the university is free from cultism and any form of cult-related activities, and we have never witnessed any incident of sex for marks because we have zero tolerance for indiscipline and all forms of vices on campus.

How has the university been able to tackle the menace of sex for marks, which is rampant in higher institutions across the country?

Well, on the question about sex for marks, I have never witnessed that in this university, we only hear that in some other universities. We hear about that, but I think our system is water-tight because there are checks and balances guiding the student-lecturer relationship. If you are conversant with the university system, it runs on a committee basis and we have all the committees in place. And again, the students have the right and free to lodge complains concerning their challenges and that is why I said there are checks and balances.

In case a lecturer approaches a student and demands that she has to offer something for marks, such student has the right to inform or complain to the authority, which the management takes very serious. Some of our Deans can bear witnesses to this. I don’t think we have witnessed any such incident of sex for marks involving our lecturers in this university.

The university is a state government-owned institution, but is there any plan by the Federal Government to take over the institution as being touted in some quarters?

This university is owned by the Bauchi State Government and it is financed by the state government; the salary component and the other needs are being met by the state government. So, the question is how would the Federal Government take over the university?

In fact, the university is enjoying tremendous support from the state government.

But, like I mentioned earlier that there is no institution, like as ours, without challenges and because of aspirations, vision and ambition for expansion we have for the growth of the institution, the challenge is enormous. But I will also add here that we are getting every support we needed from the state government, though it might not have been enough.

For instance, in the area of accreditation of academic programmes, the National Universities Commission (NUC), the regulatory body for university education, which regulates the courses offered by the universities, visits the university regularly to look at our programmes and academic activities.

Indeed, by October or November, this year, we are going to host the NUC accreditation team when we are going to present 14 academic programmes for accreditation.

Last year, we also presented about 14 academic programmes for accreditation and all of them excelled, except Pharmacology. We came back with full accreditation by NUC, which is performing its role as regulator, and not funding agency.

What plans does the administration have to tackle the hostel challenge?

We are already talking with a number of private investors. You will also agree with me that all these things depend largely on funds. The reality is that, one of the greatest challenges that I have not mentioned, is the amount of school fee we charged. If I tell you what we charged fresh students in the sciences, where they use materials for practicals on daily basis, you will marvel. They only pay N24,000 per session as school fees. The state government supplements the students’ tuition and so it is difficult for the university to raise the required internally generated revenue (IGR).

And again for the hostel issue, TETFund doesn’t fund the building of hostels for institutions. Like I said, we are already in talking terms with private hostel providers, who will come and build hostels on what we called ‘Build Operate and Transfer (B.O.T)’ basis, under the public-private-partnership (PPP) arrangement. Though, the university would regulate the rate to be paid by the students.

By and large, we have put the request before the state government and as soon as the economic is favourable and the resources are available, we will get over this.

In fact, if you go to the Bauchi campus, you will see that a private developer had already started the construction of a hostel. We are equally on talking terms with some developers or investors and there is a particular investor, who promised to build two hostels of 100 rooms for male and another 100 rooms for female students.

On capacity development, universities sponsor their lecturers for postgraduate programmes within and outside the country, how far has this university gone with this?

First, let me start by answering the question on capacity development of the lecturers. I can tell without being immodest that this university is among the fastest growing universities in the entire country.

I am pleased to also inform you that we have over 400 academic staff members, who are PhD holders that were trained within and outside the country. Almost all of them have returned and we have about 100 of them currently outside the country pursuing their Doctorate Degrees, and some of them are at verge of completing their programmes.

Besides, we have a couple of them that are studying here and it might also interest you to know that we have also introduced our Postgraduate programme. A university introduces Postgraduate programme because it wants to develop its staff capacity and in the process other lecturers will benefit from the programme. I can tell you that I supervise about two to three of our lecturers, who are undertaking their postgraduate programmes here.

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Education

ICAN awards scholarship to UNIJOS indigent student

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ICAN awards scholarship to UNIJOS indigent student

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) has awarded N250,000 scholarship to a sophomore at the Department of Accounting, University of Jos (UNIJOS), Dakwak Nerat Musa.

The scholarship scheme was instituted as part of activities to mark the birthday of accounting czar and Africa’s first Chartered Accountant, Chief. Akintola Williams of Akintola Williams Deloitte, who clocked 100 years last week.

Nerat Musa, a 200-Level student, who lost her father 10 years ago and who was accompanied by her mother, Hannatu Musa, to the presentation ceremony was said to have shed tears of joy.

The cheque was presented to her by the Chairman of ICAN Jos and District Society, Mr. Dooiyor Julius at the event, which took place at the institution’s Department of Accounting.

While presenting the cheque, Dooiyor noted that the scholarship was in honour of Chief Akintola Williams, as part of activities marking his Centenary celebration.

He said: “On behalf of the Governing Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), I have the pleasure of presenting to you, Dakwak Nerat Musa of the Accounting Department of University of Jos, the Akintola Williams Scholarship to mark his centenary celebration.

“The scholarship award was instituted by the institute to celebrate the 100 birthday of Chief Akintola Williams, the Doyen of Accountancy Profession in Nigeria on August 9, 2019. The award is in the sum of N250,000.”

The cheque was handed over to the Acting Head of the Department, Dr. Mary Ogenyi and the Dean, Faculty of Management Sciences, Prof. Samuel Ocholi, who represented to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sabastin Maimako and immediately handed over the cheque to the recipient (Nerat Musa).

Receiving the cheque, Nerat Musa, who thanked the institute and the donor for the gesture, however, said that the scholarship would go a long way in boosting her assurance of completing her academic programme.

This was as her mother said the scholarship would ease the financial burden of the family in raising funds for the education of her daughter in the institution.

He, therefore, expressed gratitude to Chief Akintola Williams, ICAN and the university for finding her daughter worthy of the scholarship.

The Vice-Chancellor, lauded the institute for considering the institution for the award and congratulated Chief Akintola Williams on his Centenary celebration, and wished him more years of service to the nation.

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Vocational skills, panacea to national growth –School owner

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Vocational skills, panacea to national growth –School owner

Aschool owner and stakeholder in the education sector, Dr. Ekua Abudu-Akinsanya has stressed the importance of vocational and technical skills as the panacea to socio-economic crises and high unemployment confronting the country.

Abudu-Akinsanya, the Founder of Vocational and Professional Development Academy (VPDA), disclosed this during the launch of Vocational Training Empowerment Programme (VOTEP).

The VOTEP, she said was a three-day free intensive training in Information Communication Technology (ICT) fundamentals and photography for senior secondary school students and school leavers for public schools in Yaba, which took place at the academy in Yaba, Lagos.

The programme, according to her, is primarily designed to give back to Yaba community, the education hub of Lagos.

During the training, the students will acquire sound training in ICT and photography, as well as sessions on essential skills in leadership, time management, emotional intelligence and personal hygiene.

With the 20 pioneer cohort trainees, Dr. Abudu-Akinsanya, noted: “The programme will run a few times a year and it is our hope that notable companies and organisations will support the academy either through sponsorship or provision of promotional items for the students in order to reach more children.”

She also underscored the need for the country to pay more attention to vocational skills, saying that VPDA would offer first class training opportunities and vocational courses in film production, ICT, customer service and call centre operation, as well as food hygiene and safety.

While conducting journalists round the facilities, comprising film and editing studio, photography section, computer room, beauty room, fashion department, electrical and plumbing sections, as well as training/lecture rooms, she noted that the courses would run for three, six and nine months depending on the courses.

The VPDA, which is being supported by the Custodian Social Responsibility Foundation of Custodian Insurance,  will commence classes in fashion design, plumbing and electrical works next month, she added would also offer diverse range of skills training in welding, plastering, bricklaying and carpentry, among other vocational skills.

“We have also established ourselves in a very short time in the area of Continuous Professional Development for middle-level management and below under our Executive/Personal Assistant training, as well as front desk/reception manager training courses, and middle management and teacher training,” Dr. Abudu-Akinsanya added.

The founder, who said VPDA would embark on a nationwide campaign or advocacy to change the mindset of people about vocational training and skills acquisition, noted that what made the academy different are its international qualifications and partnerships including the City and Guilds.

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Education

Ajasin varsity moves to boost curriculum, counselling

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Ajasin varsity moves to boost curriculum, counselling

The Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) has inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Missouri, U.S.A, to boost curriculum development and counseling.

The collaboration was crystalised last week when representatives of the American university, led by Dr. Mary Edwin visited the Ondo State Government-owned institution as part of the university’s steady rise to global reckoning.

This was as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Administration, Prof. Olugbenga Ige, described the development as another in the series of collaborative agreements signed by the Ajasin University with several universities across the world.

Ige, who received the visitors on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun, expressed optimism that the latest effort would go a long way in boosting academic content of the university, especially in the areas of curriculum development and counseling programme.

On her part, Dr. Edwin, however, pledged the commitment of the American university to the arrangement with a promise that the concerned units and programmes would be enhanced.

The visiting American don, who was accompanied to the university by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Ondo State on Innovation and Partnership, Mr. Joel Ogunsola, said she was impressed with the level of development of the university, in terms of the beautiful ambience and neatness of the campus.

Other principal officers of the university at the event were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Francis Gbore; the Acting Registrar, Mr. Opeoluwa Akinfemiwa; the Bursar, Mrs. Olubunmi Ologun; the Dean of Postgraduate School, Prof. C. A. Daramola and his counterpart in the Faculty of Education, Prof. Iyabo Omoniyi; among others.

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Education

Ex-OAU VC harps on local technology to grow agric sector

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Ex-OAU VC harps on local technology to grow agric sector

The former Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and a Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering, Michael Faborode, has stated that the fastest way to the growth of the agricultural sector is the development of local technology in country.

This was as he said that home-grown mechanisation and value addition were critical ingredients in transforming the nation’s agricultural sector.

Faborode spoke at the second Annual Engr. Kashim Ali Distinguished Lecture Series, entitled: “Agricultural Mechanisation and Food Production for Youth Empowerment: Engineering Sustainable Development,” organised by the Auchi branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in collaboration with Edo state University, Iyamho.

The don said: “Industrialisation is fuelled locally and hence local ingenuity must be encouraged. Every nation builds technologies based on their local demands. India imports less than five per cent of all the components that goes into the production of its tractors.

“Majority of the work is done and sourced locally. Hence, President Muhammadu Buhari is on the right path in stressing that we should source raw materials and technologies locally.”

Faborode also advocated the development of agricultural value chains and their consolidation in order to boost the overall productivity of farmers, as well as strengthen the viable agribusiness industry and culture that is gradually emerging.

The former Vice-Chancellor said improvement in the agricultural and food productivity in all sector, as well as reduction in food losses and waste, were part of the specific goals to a viable agricultural recov

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