These days, thinking about Nigeria and the enormity of the challenges facing the country can make a passionate person go crazy. Many things around us just don’t make sense. In the traditional media, stories of horror and unimaginable inhumanity rend the air. The social media is worse as everyone is ranting and fuming about something.
It is a bedlam, a cacophony of “sounds and fury, signifying nothing.” I belong to a WhatsApp group where a supposedly educated man complains, laments and criticizes everyone and everything. I often wonder how he manages to sleep at night with all the bitterness and venom he pours into virtually everything under the sun in Nigeria.
I always pity his lack of inner peace as he is at war with his world, which unfortunately he can’t change on WhatsApp. But the truth of the matter is that education is meaningless if one does not apply oneself to wisdom. What is the essence of ranting, fuming, complaining, condemning, cursing and expressing negativity all the time? How do we attain inner peace even if the outer peace is elusive? We invest a lot of negative energy both offline and online.
Yet, what have we been able to harvest? Let’s give positive energy a trial and see the outcome, even if it will be at our individual levels. Worry and anxiety actually don’t give anything in return. They rather rob one of many other things. An Indian guru once emphasised the need to analyse every situation that confronts us.
There are always two issues involved in anything: we either can or cannot do something about it. If the situation is what we can do something about or change, the question is: why worry? Even if we cannot do anything about the situation, the question still remains the same: why worry? It is pointless worrying about things we can change and things we can’t change! The worries of those who lived 100 or 200 years ago have paled into insignificance in our world. Our worries of today will also be buried with us when we die.
It is therefore better to do the best we can without losing our inner peace to enjoy the short time we have in this life. For whether we like it or not, this, whatever it is, too shall pass. And it certainly will! “This too shall pass” is rooted in the classical works of Persian poets, especially Attar of Nishapur.
The poet recalled the story of a powerful king who assembled all the wise men in his kingdom so that they could create a ring that would be appropriate in all situations for him, with emphasis on making him happy whenever he felt sad. After a lot of brainstorming, they gave him a ring on which “this too shall pass” was inscribed.
This had the desired effect. However, even when he was happy, it was also a curse as it reminded him that his happiness too was temporary. The profundity of this short story has made it to be retold by Edward Fitzgerald in 1852 where he narrated how a sultan requested a sentence that would ring true in good and bad times from King Solomon. Abraham Lincoln also recalled it in September 1859 telling us how an “Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to ever be in view…” Abraham Lincoln then added of the sentence, “this too shall pass”: “How much it expresses!
How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!” Nigeria is “in the depths of affliction” on several frontiers. We thought hunger and armed robbery were the worst cases but we are all witness to how terrorism, ritual killing, kidnapping, suicide and others have all joined our woes. No one feels secure on our roads any longer. While the security agencies are being charged to be more effective and efficient in securing life and property in Nigeria, it is only desirable for our mental health to wear the ring and be positive: “this too shall pass.”
As we struggle to keep hope alive that all shall be well, the ten practical actions offered by Barrie Davenport to find inner peace in a society like ours are helpful: a) have nothing unresolved; b) surrender and accept what is; c) take full responsibility for how you react to others; d) become aware and sensitive to feelings rather than ignoring them; e) tell the entire truth; f) know your higher self; g) unhinge from adrenalin; h) know what rattles your cage; i) step over nothing, even the small stuff; and j) prioritize peace ahead of performance. This too shall pass.
AEAA, world unite for improved educational assessment
Some 339 delegates from 28 countries across Africa, Europe and America, comprising examining bodies in Africa, experts, ICT professionals and scholars assembled in Abuja at a five-day conference to chat a new direction for evolving educational best practices on the continent and promote the education of African child
- FG: Africa needs highly skilled, educated labour force
- JAMB Registrar: Innovation is to enhance efficiency
Theirs was a consensus: How to device a new approach through the deployment of technology and innovations in educational assessment to tackle the scourge of examination malpractices in African schools, and to satisfy the collective quest for improved education of the African child.
That was the main focus of the 37th Conference of the Association for Educational Assessment in Africa (AEAA) at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, where over 339 delegates from 28 countries across Africa, Europe, America and other parts of the world converged to brainstorm on the compare notes and share thoughts on ways and means to improve the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) practices towards the attainment of the goal of continuous improvement of the education agenda. The five-day conference, hosted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Nigeria took place between August 5 and 9 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
The central theme of the conference was: “Innovations in Educational Assessment,” while no fewer than 75 papers and four keynote addresses were presented at the various plenary sessions by renowned scholars and eggheads in the education sector, examination experts and Information Technology Communication (ICT) professionals.
The Association for Educational Assessment in Africa is a non-profitable making organisation established in 1982 to promote cooperation among examining and assessment bodies in Africa. Part of its vision is the harmonization of educational assessments on the African continent, while the objectives include encouragement of relevant examining and assessment activities among members; sharing experience and knowledge on issues of evaluation and assessment; sponsorship of international participation in the field of educational testing and assessment within the individual member countries of WAEC, among others. Setting the tone of the conference, which took place between August 5 and 9, the President of the association, Dr. Litsabako Mamothae Ntoi, described the theme of the conference as apt and timely, even as he noted that the Council was aware of the challenges of the 21st Century learners and the urgent need to address such.She said the theme of the conference had become imperative at this time when the world was talking the 4th Industrial Revolution, which is a new chapter in human development, through extra-ordinary technological advancement.
“The 4IR brings together the convergence between physical, digital and biological spheres. Its breath, speed and depth are forcing us to rethink how countries develop and how organisations create value,” Dr. Ntoi added. According to her, in order to help Africa achieve overall development in education, it is imperative for examining bodies and all stakeholders to be innovative in education assessment.
She said the conference would also dwelled extensively on other subthemes such as the assessment for and of teaching and learning; ICT and innovations in educational assessment; innovative assessment for quality education; prospects and challenges in computer-based assessment; the role of ICT in curbing examination malpractice and assertive and adaptive technologies; educational assessment for learners with special needs.
While declaring the conference open, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Sonny Echono, said there was a consensus opinion that the AEAA is playing a very critical role in educational development in Africa. Since the world today is evolving into a knowledge-based economy, he hinted that the benefits accruing from the phenomenon could only be harnessed by countries with highly skilled and educated labour force. “With the observed increase in unemployment and poverty in our continent, it is imperative to reappraise and properly situate the relationship between education and national development in the light of poverty in the continent,” Echono stressed.
Towards this end, he added that the Federal Government-led by President Muhammadu Buhari recongnised that Nigeria’s education system must prepare and equip the citizenry to be globally competitive to effectively contribute to national development. He stressed the commitment of the Buhari led administration to education with emphasis on Technical and Vocational Educational Training (TVET), expressing confidence that the conference would impact not only on assessment, but on education in general. He also urged the delegates to reflect on the role of innovations on assessment as the continent breaks new frontiers in education.
“It is on this note that I declare the 37th Annual Conference of the Association for Educational Assessment in Africa holding in Abuja today open,” the Permanent Secretary said. Meanwhile, the conference at the end of the five-day exercise by the delegates resolved among others to challenge examining bodies to endeavour to embrace ICT-based innovative approaches in their operations and assessment practices.
In the four-page communique, the conference also said that the AEAA should strengthen its capacity building programme to support the upcoming innovative approaches in member countries; educators and assessment experts should consider reviewing the current ways of teaching, learning and assessment to ensure that meaningful learning takes place to counter the scourge of examination malpractices.
“Innovations in assessment and education should be driven by research findings. Therefore, education and assessment institutions must consider establishing wellresourced research units that will use appropriate methodologies, suitable statistical and qualitative analyses and provide information to support innovations,” the communique added.
Besides, the communique signed by the AEAA President, Dr. Ntoi and Executive Secretary, Dr. Michael Chilala (CEO, ZEC) respectively, said educational and examining organisations must consider exploring, developing, adapting and or adopting various ICT- based solutions to promote meaningful teaching and learning, and enhance their integrity, efficiency and effectiveness. Some of the papers presented include “The over reliance on standardized testing in Cameroon: Implications for the primary school classrooms,” by Dr. Kenneth Ngu Foncha, Dr. John Teneng Awa and Dr. Tah Delphine Berka from Cameroon; “Management of post- Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination computer based screening in Nigeria: Challenges and strategies for improvement,” by Dr. F. Ogba, Dr. N. Igu and Dr. Ugodulunwa from Nigeria;”Rate of inclusion of Special Needs Attributes in Uganda National Examinations” by Betty Nalukenge Habaasa from Uganda, among others.
In one of the four keynote addresses delivered by Prof. Francisca Aladejana from the University of Ilorin, entitled: “Attribute Appraisal and the Imperative of Policy Development for Innovative Educational Assessment,” the don explored the definition and the relevance of assessment, educational assessment, what are the attributes of good educational assessment, the need for innovation in educational assessment.
Her paper also focused on educational assessment practices that make innovation imperative in Nigerian schools and implication for policy making and innovation. The don, however, stressed the need to focus on new ways in which assessment could be creative, performance based and capacity building for teachers.
Similarly, in the second keynote address, entitled: “Innovation in Educational Assessment: A Case Study of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) of Nigeria,” Prof. Is-haq Olarewaju Oloyede, the Registrar of JAMB, outlined that the purpose of innovation was to enhance efficiency, saying everyone must not be satisfied with the status quo, but to be engaged in revolutionary innovations. According to him, the transition of JAMB from paper and pencil test to CBT was to achieve more efficiency and to counter the scourge of examination malpractices.
He, therefore, stated that biometrics, CCTVs in centres and central admission processing system were some of the devices being employed by JAMB to curb examination malpractices. On his part, Prof. Redwood- Sawyerr, who presented the third keynote address, which focused on “The Impact of ICT on Examination,” enumerated the various micro-technology devices available for sale online that candidates use to commit examination fraud. To curb this practice, he recommended that examination bodies, administrators and assessment professionals needed to be aware of the devices and to devise new ways to counter them.
The don also recommended that educators must review the ways of teaching and assessment to counter the scourge of examination malpractices in schools. Prof. Omaze Anthony Afemikhe, in his keynote address, which was entitled: “Innovations in Teaching and Learning Oriented Practice,” stressed that innovation should follow a process that should be understood by the agency aspiring for its implementation and that all stakeholders to drive the innovation should be trained.
He also proposed that emphasis should be on how assessment could be used to improve learning. The conference deliberations also focused on the following subthemes: “Assessment for and of Teaching and Learning,” under which the participants observed that assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning. Based on this, there was a consensus that reliable assessment should be part of the teaching and learning process, and that the need for technological innovations in educational assessment should include instructional processes. Under “ICT and Innovative Educational Assessment,” the delegates dwelt on the pros and cons of application of ICT in educational assessment, and observed that application of ICT in educational assessment was imperative notwithstanding its disadvantages.
Therefore, the delegates noted the urgent need to employ ICTs in all aspects of educational assessment, even as they agreed to continue to explore means of addressing the observed threats of ICT to educational assessment. In the other sub-theme on “Innovative Assessment for Quality Education,” the prospects and challenges of innovative assessment were highlighted, including the role of innovative assessment on quality of education.
It was, however, noted that innovative assessment had the potential to improve the quality of education and therefore should be embraced. Participants also explored ways of addressing the identified challenges, while the various ICT based solutions available for purchase were presented for members to consider. Under the “Prospects and Challenges in Computer-Based Assessment (CBA),” the sub-theme identified lack of infrastructure and other challenges of computerbased assessment in Africa, even as the participants applauded the increasing need to adopt and use CBA in Africa.
While suggestions were made on how the identified challenges could be addressed, the conference, however, cautioned that the nature and purpose of assessment should be of major considerations in employing Computer-Based Assessment. Others are “The Role of ICT in Curbing Examination Malpractices,” where the threats of examination malpractices on the integrity of qualifications awarded by examination bodies were discussed. Apart from this, the participant deliberated on the prospects and challenges of applying ICT in curbing examination malpractices, while the numerous ICT-based solutions were presented for members’ consideration.
Ranking: AAUA leads state varsities on Webometric ranking table
…as UI leads Nigerian varsities on table
The 2019 Webometrics Ranking of World Universities has ranked the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) as the best state-owned university in Nigeria. The university managementled by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun, which is still savouring the position of the institution on the world ranking table, said that the Webometrics Ranking, which was released on July 31, placed Adekunle Ajasin University on 9th position among Nigerian universities; 81st in African and 3048th globally out of over 28,000 institutions ranked by the global ranking body.
The Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, which is also known as Ranking Web of Universities, is a globallyaccepted ranking system for the world’s universities, using a multiple indicators that take into account the volume of the Web contents, the visibility and impact of the web publications of the ranking universities. In the ranking, University of Ibadan (UI) led the pack of Nigerian universities as 1233rd in the world, while Covenant University, which leads the private universities came third in Nigeria and 1704 in the world.
Other universities among the first 10th on the table are University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), which came second in Nigeria and 1677 in the world; OAU emerged fourth on the table and 2077 in the world; UNILAG fifth in Nigeria and 2094 in the world; ABU, Zaria came sixth in Nigeria and 2216 in the world; UNILORIN seventh and 2726 in the world; FUTA eighth in Nigeria and 2935 in the world; and UNIPORT, which came 10th after Adekunle Ajasin University and 3182 in the world. Meanwhile, this would be the third time in recent years that university would be adjudged best of all state-owned universities in Nigeria. A statement by the spokesman for the university, Victor Akinpelumi, noted: “We are delighted that despite the palpable challenges, including paucity of funds facing the university, it has achieved this remarkable feat. This is a testament to the commitment of every arm of the university and the resolve of the management to place the institution on the global pedestal.
“We thank all stakeholders of the university without whom this heartwarming feat would not have been made possible. We also acknowledge the Ondo State Governor and Visitor to the university; the university Governing Council; the university management; staff and students; alumni, parents and guardians; host communities; friends of the university and the media. “On its part, the management would continue to put in place policies that would sustain this feat and encourage hard work and promote the university’s goals of teaching, research and community service.
TRCN inducts 1,348 fresh teachers, lauds college
For its commitment to production of quality teachers and according high premium to induction of professional teachers in line with international best practices and quality assurance benchmark, the Registrar of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Olusegun Ajiboye has commended the management of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze in Anambra State.
The Registrar gave the kudos at the fourth TRCN induction ceremony of the college, where no fewer than 1,348 graduating students were admitted into the teaching profession. Addressing the inductees at the induction ceremony, which took place at the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Auditorium, main campus of the college, Ajiboye said the institution had gained a reputation for promoting students’ development through a broad and balanced training with a wide array of learning activities. “This institution is reputed for championing an all-round development of students by accommodating their interests, unleashing their potentials and expanding the scope of their experience beyond classroom learning,” he stated.
The Registrar, who was represented by the Director, Professional Operations of the Council, Maazi Adamu Bello, described teachers “as pivotal in the education sector,” saying this had become the most potent instrument in the struggle for survival and development of the country.
He added: “Today’s teachers must not only fit into the informed knowledge demands of the contemporary life, but should also be at the shoulder level with every other professional groups functioning in the wider context of a knowledge-driven economy.” He further explained that a professional teacher must embrace radical paradigm shift from the content and method model to the broad knowledgebase model, which incorporates the essential ingredients of professionalism. According to him, the development of innovative technologies for teaching has placed a huge demand on teachers to learn the use of new technologies in the teaching and learning process. The TRCN Registrar urged the teachers to take their oath of practice with all seriousness, noting that oath taking is the most important legal basis for admission into a profession and a condition for professional practice.
Nasarawa follows UBEC’s guidelines in project execution – SUBEB chair
Malam Muhammad Musa Dan’azimi is the Chairman of Nasarawa State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). In this interview with journalists, he speaks on the activities of the board, where he confirmed the receipt of N5 billion from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). CHEKE EMMANUEL was there
Recently, the governor of the state disclosed at a function that the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has received N5 billion from UBEC for school projects, can you confirm this?
Of course, anything the people heard from the state governor, Abdullahi Sule you do not have any reason to doubt it. The governor, without being immodest cannot say anything without having an insight into the issue. I can confirm to you that we have received N5 billion from UBEC as matching grant for the last quarter of 2016. During the last administration, we received that of 2012 to last quarter of 2016, which amounted to between N10 billion and N11 billion. Following the directive by Mr. President that all states with outstanding matching grants should deduct the money from the Paris Club refund, and in our own case, we have matched it as directed by the President. I can, therefore, confirm to you that we have received N5 billion matching grants from the Commission having paid our counterpart funds deducted from the state’s Paris Club refund. Now, we are in the process of calling for bid for the school projects since we have to follow due process as required by the Public Procurement Act 2007. Any moment from now, we will advertise in the national dailies calling for tender and after that we shall analyse the process for the award of contracts for school projects.
There were allegations that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) was in the state recently to investigate alleged inflation of contracts and nonexecution of projects in some schools and for which monies were already appropriated by the immediate past administration. What is your reaction to this?
I consider that as mere allegation by some people trying to soil the image of the past administration. The way we do our contracts here is transparent. We go by UBEC’s guidelines and before we access any funds we must do the NEEDS Assessment and by providing the action plan to be approved by the Commission. Indeed, before you carry out any project under UBEC, the Board must sign an agreement with the commission. So, in every contract, the contract sum is contained in the action plan and there is no way one could inflate or reduce the amount. It has to be done religiously in line with the standard practice approved by UBEC. Hence, for someone to come out and say contracts were inflated or we short-changed somebody is a blatant lie. Since I assumed the Chairman of the Board, no official of anti-graft agency came to the board for any reason and if anyone came it would probably be that he was on a routine assignment just like UBEC officials usually come to the board to check our books and see whether we are doing things in compliance with the guidelines. That is all. But, for anyone to say things outside what I have said is his own idea. I do not know whether EFCC were in the state or not, but I never seen any official of the agency.
Some projects were executed recently by the board in some primary schools across the state. Could you tell us how many classroom blocks were constructed or rehabilitated, and the project cost?
Before this administration came on board, the immediate past administration carried out infrastructural development in some of our schools. The first projects was done in 2011, when Governor Tanko Al-Makura came in and accessed the matching grant he met on ground and that of 2016, which amounted to between N10 billion and N11 billion. A number of school structures including storey buildings were constructed with the funds. For the first time in the state we have storey buildings in our primary schools. We have four classroom blocks, three classroom blocks and two classroom blocks and offices and some renovations projects were carried out on some schools that were dilapidated. Apart from the renovation work, the board provided boreholes and toilets in about 400 or 500 schools. But for clarification, we are transparent in our operations and you can go to our planning unit to get the details. The people of the state applauded what the former governor did in primary schools sub-sector in the state and the school projects were evenly distributed. There was no discrimination in the spread of the projects. If you visit schools across the nooks and crannies of the state you will see storey buildings, built by the past administration and I think the present administration’s vision is in line with what the former Governor Al-Makura’s administration did and it is going to be continued. Even with the intervention that we have just received the projects would be carried out in every local government area of the state. There is going to be construction of new buildings and renovation school structures, as well as provision of toilet facilities in schools and boreholes.
There is this information in public domain that the board spent N45 million on training workshop for 1,000 teachers in one week. What is your reaction on this?
Such trainings were not sponsored by the state government it was sponsored by UBEC and it is a training that comes up annually. The N5 billion intervention that we received would be spent on school projects in all the local government areas in the state. The money would be spent to construct new buildings and renovation of existing school structures as well as on provision of toilets facilities and boreholes under this intervention the board is going to embark on very soon.
But what of the N45 million said to have been spent on training of 1,000 teachers in one week?
I said earlier that the trainings was not sponsored by the state government as it was funded by UBEC and if any fund is released for a purpose, we have to spend it on that purpose with action plan submitted to the Commission. Let me also add that UBEC does it things according to World Bank standard because the Commission would not release money for a project or programme without action plan showing the number of teachers that will attend such training and how the training would be conducted. The feeding of the participants and who are the vendors would have to be stated in the action plan and all these have to be approved by UBEC, while during the training the officials of the Commission would come to supervise the training and report back. Any state that executes projects outside the approved action plan stands the chance of losing the next intervention. And, since the state has been benefiting from this intervention yearly there is transparency in our activities.
So, the board spent N45 million for the training?
There are different types of training. It is not just a one off training; it is called teachers’ development training. If you go to every local government area you see teachers receiving training at different levels. On standard of the projects executed, is the board did a thorough supervision as there are complaints that some of the school buildings were constructed without pillars? That is a mere allegation. For very building we have a plan for it. Consultants were engaged for every stage of the projects, and the last phase of the building construction is supervised by our consultants, who are consultants to the state government and not only SUBEB and there are records. The other consultant is a lecturer at the state polytechnic and there are building plan for every building we executed. Most often, I go out to supervise the project myself and I want to say with all confidence that there no building without pillars. But, it is a different thing entirely when you say that some contractors did substandard jobs and such contractors are being sanctioned appropriately.
What type of sanctions is being meted out to the contractors?
It might interest you to know that it happened when I was not here, but when I came on board and got the report I directed that all the buildings be subject to integrity test and some of the building failed test. Already, the contractors that did the shoddy
jobs were paid, but we said the buildings should be renovated for the pupils to use.
The state governor said recently his administration would take measures to ensure that Almajiris are taken off the streets under the Bilingual Education project which the board is supervising. How do you intend to enroll the Almajiris in formal school system?
Before the coming of Bilingual Education programme in the state, there was the Almajiri School programme introduced by Federal Government with particular reference to the North in order to take the Almajiris off the streets. Here in Nasarawa State, the example is that of Rinze in Akwang area where the Command Secondary School is now sited. When that school was built the former Chairman of the Board took the statistics of the Almajiris and those of them within Akwanga community were transferred to the school where they were being fed and offered Koranic education. But along the line the children disappeared from the schools one by one and left the school empty. Of course, the most unfortunate thing is that most of the Almajiri children are not from Nasarawa State and hence the control over them was sometimes very difficult. At a time I approached their Mallams, I mean their instructors, but he won’t allow them to enroll in conventional schools. But now I am happy that the government is taking serious measures to ensure that these children are taken off the streets. I think it will be better to remove the Almajiri children from the streets and enroll them in the conventional schools in line with the objectives of the Bilingual Education project.
Nasarawa State is one of the states that are currently implementing the School Feeding Programme. How many pupils have so far been enrolled under the school feeding programme across the state?
Unfortunately the statistics are not here, but in the office of the Social Investment Programme in the Ministry of Finance, where we have the officers handing the project. They only liaise with SUBEB because they deal directly with the Board’s Education Secretaries, but we have Desk Officer for the programme here. The issue again is that the Desk Officer is not being properly carried along by officials handling the school feeding programme. In this case, any information on the school feeding programme can only be got at the Office of the Social Investment Programme or Executive Secretary, who they report to. They know their vendors, the number of schools and the number of children that have so far been enrolled in the programme. We don’t have the records here and I wouldn’t want to quote any record that is not the true reflection of what they have.
How much in concrete terms has the Board invested in execution of school projects in the state, and what is the position of payment of teachers’ salary?
Well, I think I have answered that question earlier in our discussion, where I said we built several blocks of classrooms, constructed storey buildings, offices, boreholes and toilets, as well as provided other facilities. And, I also mentioned that if can go to the Board’s Physical Planning Department for the records.
$100,000 Ford Foundation’s grant for YABATECH
Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) has become a recipient of $100,000 Ford Foundation Project grant awarded to the institution for the development of Art Museum Project. According to the college, the project, which will also focus on advocacy against Sexual Harassment (SH) and Gender- Based Violence (GBV) would be handled and supervised by the grant research team, made up of a Chief Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Science, Dr. A. Abiodun; a Principal Lecturer in the Department of Biological Science, Dr. Funmilayo Doherty; and a Principal Lecturer in the Department of Fine Art, Mrs. Odun Orimolade.
The trio was said to have written the proposal that won the grant for the college. Senior Programme Officer of Ford Foundation, Prof. Paul Nwulu, who was at the college to flag off the project, however, described the partnership between YABATECH and Ford Foundation as that of progress and development. Meanwhile, the Rector of the college, Mr. Obafemi Omokungbe, thanked Ford Foundation for the grant and assured Prof. Nwulu that the college would support the actualisation of the project. The Rector, accompanied by the Polytechnic Librarian, Mrs. Taye Adebowale; Dean, School of Art, Design & Printing, Dr. Kunle Adeyemi, the Project Desk Officer, Dr. Olusola Dada, and the grant research team, later led Prof. Nwulu on a visit to the the basement of the School of Art, Design & Printing, the designated location for the project.
The project would be monitored by Dr. Dabaseki Mac-Ikemenjima and the Grant Manager for the Ford Foundation Office of West Africa, Mrs. Joy Ehinor- Esezobor. In another development, the suspension placed on Students’ Union activities by the management would soon be lifted. This was disclosed by the Rector during a visit by the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Student (NANS) to the college.
The eight-man NANS delegation was led by its Chairman, Busari Abiola, who was in the college on a fact-finding mission to congratulate and draw inspiration from the Rector, who was said to be a former Chairman of the college’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP). The association, which expressed concern over YABATECH students’ non-representation in NANS, appealed that the management of the college to ensure that the students are brought back into the mainstream of NANS. While, responding, Obafemi disclosed that the ban on the students’ union on the campus had been in existence before his assumption of office as Rector, saying the college was not the only institution with issues with its students’ union. But, he noted that his administration was already putting every hand on deck to restore the unionism in the college, as the process was at advanced stage.
Varsity donates mobile lab to school
As part of efforts to advance the development and promote the teaching of science and technology subjects across secondary schools in the country, the management of the Federal University of Technology, Minna (FUT Minna) has donated a set of mobile laboratory teaching equipment to Apata Grammar School, Bembo, Ibadan in Oyo State.
The facilities were handed to the school during a presentation ceremony that took place at the school’s Chemistry Laboratory. Speaking before presenting the equipment on behalf of the university, the Inventor of the project, Mr. Sadiq Suis Lawal, said the donation was part of the university’s quest to promote the teaching of science subjects in the school, as well as to encourage more students to enroll for science-oriented courses after their graduation from high school. Lawal, an engineer, stated that the gesture, was also in furtherance of the university’s mandates of research and community services towards addressing societal problems.
The project facilitator added that the mobile teaching laboratory would make the conduct of science practicals easy for teachers and students, saying that the era of conducting practicals only in conventional laboratory was over because practicals could now be conducted anywhere with the equipment.
He noted that the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Abdullahi Bala, was committed to the advancement of the nation through novel research, which also necessitated the donation of the equip-ment so that future scientists would be discovered in the school through the use of the equipment. Lawal also insisted that all hands must be on deck in addressing the poor state of infrastructure across public schools in the federation.
While receiving the equipment on behalf of Oyo State Government, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr. Idowu Adeosun, expressed gratitude to the Vice- Chancellor for finding the school worthy of the donation, even as he added that the state government was proud of the university for assisting the state through the equipment in order to produce future inventors and scientists. Adeosun, who was also represented by the Director of Basic Education in the ministry, Mrs. Funke Akande, however, noted that the university had further demonstrated itself as a leading university in the country. While reiterating that the equipment was first of its kind designed in the country to simplify the teaching of science subjects, he said: “We are grateful to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdullahi Bala for donating the equipment to the school.
This donation has further shown that North or South, Christian or Muslim, we are all one. We are happy with the Vice-Chancellor and university for exhibiting patriotism and nationalism through this donation.” The Permanent Secretary noted that the Governor Seyi Makinde would be briefed about the donation, saying that the state government was willing to partner FUT, Minna for the supply of the equipment across all secondary schools in the state.
Akanu Ibiam Poly ASUP on strike over unpaid 27-month allowances
Lecturers at Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Unwana (AIFPU) in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) have embarked on indefinite strike over unpaid allowances by the management.
The union in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Felix Uga Idu and the Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ukegbu Chibuzo respectively, the union said the industrial action became necessary due to insensitivity and indifference of the management to the plight of academic staff of the institution. According to the union leaders, who regretted that all avenues for peaceful resolution and negotiations were exhausted, the union had to issue a 21-day ultimatum in accordance with labour laws to the management, particularly on the issue of 27-month unpaid arrears of Peculiar Academic Allowance (PAA) before embracing the strike option.
This was as the union pointed out that rather than pay the arrears, the polytechnic management insisted on paying only a month out of 27 months arrears owed its members.” The statement reads in part: “Members of the union are owed the following: 7.5 per cent PAA for 27 months in arrears, 100 per cent implementation and payment of 2017 and 2018 promotions, shortchange in honorarium for parttime and other related services rendered to mention but a few.
“For instance, in the Stream B, a programme like part-time that is meant to generate internally generated revenue (IGR), the honorarium paid the staff recently for a full academic session, a Chief Lecturer received less than N20,000; whereas a Principal Lecturer received N16,000, while Lecturer III got N5,000 for a whole year in a programme that has over 1,000 students, who paid N70,000 as school fees.
Don harps on research grants for varsities’ sustenance
Professor of Accounting and Finance at the Makerere University Business School, Mbarara Campus, Uganda, Prof. Laura Orobia, has described research grants as the fulcrum of sustenance of universities and their reckoning on the global scene. Orobia, who was guest lecturer at a one-day workshop on “Research Grants and Writing in High Impact Journals,” facilitated by the Directorate of Advancement and Linkages, Plateau State University, Bokkos, said the world was fast changing and so the academic circle while this made research not only an integral part of the ivory towers, but an essential element for the survival and relevance of academics.
She noted that for any research to be relevant in today’s world, it must be tailored towards solving problems and must be practical, convincing and directed at influencing the arena of policy formulation. According to her, the world is in urgent need of finding solutions to contemporary challenges and academic institutions through their research engagements must provide leadership in that direction.
The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Yohana Daniel Izam, in his goodwill message, described the lecture as timely and apt, adding that university education revolves around the three key functions of teaching, research and community service. Izam disclosed that the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) was now shifting its focus to heavy investment in the coming years from infrastructural development to research, which had been identified as the pivot that would fast track national development.
WAEC allays parents, candidates’ fears over withheld results
The Head of the Nigeria National Office (HNO) of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Mr. Olu Adenipekun has allayed the fears of parents and candidates whose results are still being withheld that the Council will speed investigations on the various cases in order to make the fate of the affected candidates known.
In the 2019 May/June West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results released last week, no fewer than 180, 205 candidates, representing 11.33 per cent of the total number of candidates that sat for the examination according to the Council, had their results withheld in connection with various reported cases of examination malpractice.
According to him, the Committee set up by the Council on such cases is already working on the cases and the recommendations would in the next eight weeks be submitted for appropriate action.
The NHO, who noted that cases are of two types, said there were some of the candidates, whose results were being investigated that will be released in the next few weeks, while those found culpable of involvement in examination malpractice, depending on the recommendations of the committee would be appropriately sanctioned.
He said the sanctions range from partial cancellation of some subjects, outright cancellation of the entire results; barring of the candidate from sitting for WAEC examinations; barring the school from presenting candidates for WAEC examinations to appropriate punishment for the supervisor, if found culpable of involving, abetting and aiding malpractice in the examination.
Adenipekun said: “We are concerned about the well-being of our candidates in terms of their admission; hence we are doing everything humanly possible through the committee to get the results of the innocent candidates released as soon as possible. The committee is already begun on the investigations and we want to assure parents and the candidates that the committee would do a thorough job.”
“The cases are being investigated and reports of the investigations will be presented to the appropriate Committee of the Council in due course. The Committee’s decision will be communicated to the affected candidates through their various schools.”
In a related development the HNO said that the policy makers, scholars, examination experts across the world would converge on Abuja between August 5 and 9 for the 37th Annual Conference of the Association for Educational Assessment in Africa (AEAA) being hosted by the Council at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
The conference, which according to him, which would attract delegates and scholars from Africa, Europe, America and other parts of the world, would also feature about 96 papers to be presented by scholars across the globe.
Adenipekun, who said experts would deliberate on how to deploy new ideas, technology and innovation in the delivery and conduct of examination, hinted that WAEC had already bidden for Magic Scanner 1,000 machine to be deployed in the conduct of its examinations.
He said the Association for Educational Assessment in Africa is a non-profitable making organisation established in 1982 to promote cooperation among examining and assessment bodies in Africa.
“Since the rights to host the 37th 3edition of the conference was given to WAEC, Nigeria in Uganda in August 2017, preparations for the conference have been in top gear as the Local Organisating C9ommittee for the conference swung into action to ensure that the delegates have an eventful workshop,” he said.
He, however, noted that the association vision was the harmonization of educational assessments on the African continent, saying part of the objective is also to encourage relevant examining and assessment activities among members; to share experience and knowledge on issues of evaluation and assessment; sponsor international participation in the field of educational testing and assessment within the individual member countries among other objectives.
According to Adenipekun, the association was borne as the outcome of what was then known as the sub-regional conference of Heads of Institutions responsible for educational assessment in Eastern and Southern African.
Expected to be declared opened by the Minister of Education or his representatives, the HNO said security arrangement had been put in place to ensure the safety of the delegates.
Specifically, he noted that the association is intervening in the critical areas of test and measurement, saying the 96 papers to be presented in the five-day conference would be developed into a book, while a communique that would form a framework for examination bodies and other relevant organisations, government and institutions would be issued for their use.
Reform: Probe panel calls for memoranda on institutions in Edo
The Commission of Inquiry set up by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to investigate the activities and operations of three state-owned tertiary institutions has called on members of the public to submit memoranda to the commission in order to have robust engagements for the probe.
The affected institutions are the Colleges of Education at Ekiadolor and Igueben; Michael Imoudu College of Physical Education; College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi and the College of Agricultural Technology in Agenebode respectively
A statement by the Secretary of the Commission, Obobairibhojie John, noted: “The Governor of Edo State, has constituted a Commission of Inquiry into the activities of Colleges of Education, Ekiadolor and Igueben, Michael Imoudu College of Physical Education, College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi and the College of Agricultural Technology, Agenebode from January 2009 to June 30, 2019.”
The statement listed “the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry to include “examining the finances of the institutions (receipts and expenditure) and to determine whether they were in accordance with the laws of the institution, as well as the rules and regulations guiding the Public Service”
Other terms of reference are to “examine the administrative structure of the institutions in line with the laws establishing them and examine the mode of employment and promotions at the institutions with a view to determining whether due process was observed, and to investigate any other matter that may be incidental to (i) – (iii) above.”
Obobairibhojie, therefore, called on members of the public to submit memoranda in 15 copies to the Secretary of the Commission at the Office of the Head of Service (HoS) on or before August 14.
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