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Varsities should be creative to complement govt’s funding – FUOYE VC

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Varsities should be creative to complement govt’s funding – FUOYE VC

The Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), Prof. Kayode Soremekun, speaks with ADEWUMI ADEMIJU about university education, and the establishment of private universities, among other issues

 

 

Do you subscribe to the claim in some quarters that proliferation of private universities has reduced the quality of university education in the country?
Let me begin by saying that it is not always good enough to generalise issues. The fact that you have an expansion in the number of private universities does not mean that the quality has declined necessarily. I, for one can speak from personal experience. In the course of my career, I have worked in one of the private universities and it is possible for me to say that private universities have added value to the Nigerian university system. Then, it will be unfair to say that the establishment has led to decline in the quality of graduates and scholarship. Some of these universities have continued to hold their heads.
For instance, in Covenant University, the facilities there are top rated and the living condition of the staff and students is of great quality.
Having said that, there is a downside in the sense that some of the private universities seem to be in the doldrums by not pulling their weight. I think in the course of time, market forces will sort out such universities.
Again, another point to note is that with the establishment of private universities, some fundamental issues have been thrown up which policy makers have to contend with and appreciate. There is great demand for university education, but in contrast effective demand is not yet there. Many people desire university education, but many still lack the capacity to fund it. Nigeria is still a poor country and few parents could afford to pay N500,000 as tuition. They are willing to have their children educated, but effective demand is not being met. In the process, many entrepreneurs have started universities only to realise that the number of students are not there.
There are few universities that have that number, while others are merely struggling probably for demographic space.

How has this university being able to cope with two campuses, when some of its contemporaries are still grappling with the challenges of dearth of infrastructure and facilities?
Well, we owe everything to God for the vision, and our commitment and strength such that the running of the two campuses has become fairly normal for us. This is what I inherited and to that extent, I have to take on the complexities. What we have been able to do to expand the resource base is to introduce a number of new academic programmes, which at the same time, are not only relevant, but also beneficial to the academic world.
Such courses include the pre-degree and superb programmes. We have been able to raise some funds from these two programmes to be able to deal with the onerous responsibilities of running the two campuses. There are also other projects we introduced to boost our internally generated revenue apart from the fact that the Federal Government gives us subventions for overhead cost. Though, the money could not be inadequate, because on piecemeal basis we receive N8 million. Also, don’t forget that we run two campuses and we need to buy diesel to run our generators throughout the day. We all realise that N8 million for two campuses is like a drop in the ocean.

What is the status of accreditation of the university’s academic programmes?
Getting courses accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and other professional bodies has been a tough one in the sense that it comes with heavy financial cost in terms of providing necessary infrastructure and equipment. At some times, we were indebted to various contractors to the tune of about N300 million because we have to put in place structures and equipment, as well as equip the classrooms, libraries and the laboratories. But, at end of the day, all our courses have been accredited. The money spent, one can say has been justified.
You spoke about regulatory agencies; yes as a university and in spite of our age, we run engineering courses. We are answerable to two regulatory bodies, the COREN on one hand, and the National Universities Commission on the other. However, the good thing is that as the adage says that there are thorns, but there are still roses among the thorns such that we can say conveniently that if anybody subscribes to this university, he or she is subscribing to accredited courses.
Despite our age, this university has continued to be a preferred university of choice. From the latest Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) figure, this university in terms of preference by applicants is in the fifth position. Since I came on board, we have expanded to 60 academic programmes. But, as we expand, we also need to expand in the areas of infrastructure, lecture theatres, facilities and classrooms, among other necessities. We are building rapidly.

How would you describe the institution’s research profile, given the low research activities in Nigerian universities?
I want to slightly modify your perception about research. Research is still going on in Nigerian universities, but the more dangerous dimension is that a lot of these research activities are being funded by external agencies. That is dangerous for us and I am not too sure that the government is aware of the danger. When you throw your universities open to free flowing funds from the donor community, then of course, it is like selling the soul of the country. However, at FUOYE what we are trying to do is to encourage university-based journals.
There is an element of bias in the production of knowledge. If you don’t have your own platform of producing knowledge, you will simply be subscribing to other people’s platforms which have their own agenda. And, the best way to minimise that is to have your own platform for the production and dissemination of knowledge. That is why almost all our faculties have journals and we are trying to encourage them to do more. What we are also driving at is that when we are stabilised in the area of funding and in terms of a robust IGR, we will set aside some funds yearly which our scholars can access to fund their research.
In a shortest possible time, we will set aside a minimum of N100 million for our scholars for research. Let me say that we are not beating our chest about this because a hundred million is really a small amount, but we need to start from somewhere. If only we can increase the fund every year by N25 million, overtime we will have a robust research funds. For too long, our universities have ceded knowledge to global forces and this has inclement implications, and this university in this corner of the country will reverse the trend.

Given the claim that government alone cannot adequately fund universities and that the institutions should look inwards to generate revenue internally, what are you doing in this regard?
Like I said earlier, one of the major ways of generating income is through expansion of academic programmes and courses run by the universities. The more programmes you introduced, the more money will be generated through students’ fees. Though, such fees should be minimal but that will be a honey pot through which we can run the university.
For instance, we have embarked on auxiliary programmes like pre-degrees to prepare students for admission. Our next step is to leverage on the advantage of our environment by engaging those, who can be responsible solely in giving the university an edge in the area of developing agriculture. By this, we are talking about cutting-edge research in agriculture and commercial farms. We have a group of people that call themselves the face of the nation that are into agriculture.
Besides, we have also engaged in entrepreneur activities. We are bringing in people that will turn the university into a place that can be showcased in the area of agriculture, research and commercialisation of our products.

Poor budgeting to education by successive administrations since 1999 has been the bane of the sector. What is your take on this?
I will try as much as possible to be comprehensive on this matter. It is possible for me to sit here and say that universities needed more funding and specifically the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, and that will mean that I am looking at issue purely from my own little corner. We have to appreciate the fact that the state itself has other commitments and demands to contend with. To that extent, one has to balance that larger government’s commitment with the specific commitment to the education sector.
In fact, once we are able to do that, then we will have a better grasp of the quantum of funding that a university like FUOYE requires. So, I strongly believe that since government is able to pay workers’ salaries, provide facilities through TETFund, as well as provide funding for capital expenditure and overheads, the universities too should devise creative programmes by which they can complement government’s efforts in that direction.
Of course, I am not saying that government should not increase funding to the institutions, but there should be a synergy between the government and other stakeholders. Part of the problems in this part of the world is that we have not learnt how to think outside the box. Once we are able do that, we will discover that the responsibility of funding education should also be complemented by other stakeholders.
Look at the University of Lagos; you will discover that over time, it has a resource base that is very robust. Although, one can argue further that UNILAG is able to do that in view of its peculiar location, it is also possible for other Nigerian universities to leverage on their environment to generate more income to run the universities.
One of the challenges facing the university in recent times is industrial disharmony by the workers’ unions, which has impacted negatively on the system, how do you think we could address this?
I think the way out is for government to pay more attention to the funding of education.
But, I want to also reiterate that the government alone cannot fund education. The private sector should be involved. This should be coupled with the minimal school fees from the students, commercial activities by the universities as well as grants from international donor agencies. These are platforms for which universities can generate funds for their operations.
For instance, as young as this university is, we have collaboration with the African Peace Building Network, a social component of the Research Council of New York. They brought funds, which we used to conduct workshops and seminars. Right now, we are involved in a major project; the herdsmen and farmers conflict, which is being funded by African Building Network. The Network has a Director in the country, who has been helping the university. I believe that the older universities are better positioned to access fund from international donor community.

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Education

Buhari charges Nigerian varsities on research, innovations

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Buhari charges Nigerian varsities on research, innovations

President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged Nigerian universities to use their tools to build on research and innovations with the ultimate aims of generating new knowledge and skills that would enable government realise its industrialisation agenda.

President Buhari, represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary Academics, National Universities Commission, Doctor Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, gave the charge on Wednesday while speaking at the 35th Convocation ceremony of the University of Ilorin.

The President noted that research and innovations constituted important components to knowledge; hence universities must see the current economic challenges as opportunities for retrospection and skills development by improving their relevance in research and innovations.

He called on ministries, departments and agencies with the mandate for research and education development to collaborate, share resources and ensure that research outputs from universities have direct impact on the societies.

Buhari, who is the Visitor to the university, said his government remained committed, resolute and confident to fund researches in the universities through TETFUND within the available scarce resources.

The President also condemned the trending stories of sex for grades in the country’s tertiary institutions which, he said, had assumed global attention, adding that he had directed appropriate government agencies to tame the situation and bring wanting lecturers indulging in such scandalous act to book.

Earlier, the Pro-Chancellor of the University and Chairman of the Governing Council, Doctor Abdullah Jibril Oyekan, had urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure massive review of the curriculum of the country’s tertiary institutions in order to start breeding a generation of focused, patriotic and particularly disciplined youths through deliberate character formation.

In his address, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, disclosed that the institution graduated 12,009, with 130 out of the number bagging first class, as well as 242 PhDs, and 929 Masters from various faculties.

Professor Abdulkareem told the graduands that the era of white collar jobs is over, hence the need for them to chart a new course that would make them relevant and productive in the scheme of things.

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UI ASUU: Our members not involved in DLC exam arrest

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Sola Adeyemo, Ibadan

Sequel to the arrest of six workers at the Distance Learning Center (DLC) of the University of Ibadan, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the university Tuesday said no academic staff was involved in examination malpractices leading to the arrest.

Six DLC staff of the Institution were picked up by the operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) last Friday for alleged involvement in aiding and abeting examination malpractices and compromising the integrity of examinations.
The UI ASUU Chairman, Prof. Deji Omole, while reacting to some newspaper reports which claimed members of the union were part of those arrested for being involved in examination malpractices, said those arrested by the DSS were non-academic (NASU) staff in the technical unit of the DLC.
Omole criticized the Director of Public Communications of the institution, Olatunji Oladejo, who the papers attributed the story to, as misinforming the public.

He explained that no member of the academic staff has been fingered or linked to the fraud, adding that they should not be dragged into the mess.

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Education

North’s agenda to bridge basic education gap

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North’s agenda to bridge basic education gap
  • UBEC pushes for community participation

 

PARTICIPATION

Community engagement through a holistic scheme, known as School Based Management Committee (SBMC), is gradually changing the face of education in some states in the North. REGINA OTOKPA reports

 

 

The nation’s education sector, as a critical and fulcrum of development, has over the years been bedevilled with a number of challenges undermine its performance in the delivery of qualitative education needed to transform the nation.

Acute infrastructural decay of schools, lack of educational facilities in rural and hard to reach areas, palpable insecurity, classroom explosion or congestion, inadequate funding, unqualified teachers, low teacher morale and lack of interest by parents to enroll their children and wards in schools mostly in some parts of the country, especially in the North, have continued to bogged down the sector.

Worried by this concern, the government in collaboration with development partners and donor agencies, have for decades paid special focus and attention to the educational needs of the children in the northern part of the country, where most families detest or shun western or formal education, leaving majority of the children on the streets either hawking, begging for alms, or worst still as Almajiris.

More worrisome is the population explosion in the region, which is already impoverished by poverty and Boko Haram insurgence, coupled with the inability of most parents to cater for the basic needs of their children and wards in terms of provision of education and health.

As a result, Nigeria is still home to the highest number of out of school children in the world, with about 13.2 million children between the ages of five to 14 not attending school.

According to a survey conducted by the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), over eight million of the figure domiciled in Kano and 11 other states in the North.

However, in its sectoral report on Nigeria as presented by UNICEF’s Education Specialist Kano, it further indicated that only 61 per cent of six to 11-year-old children attend primary school, while 35.6 per cent of children between 36 to 59 months old receive early childhood education.

To erase the stigma that comes with this sad tale, the Federal Government present and past has instituted several programmes with direct and complementary support from several development partners, to help change the narrative.

One of such programmes already driving a huge traffic of pupils’ enrollment and retention in schools in the North is the School Based Management Committees (SBMC), an all-inclusive community participatory approach that allows communities to take ownership of school in their respective localities, through identification of critical educational and school needs, monitoring and supervision of school projects, sensitisation and orientation about the importance of basic education to the children’s future.

The programme, however, was initiated as part of moves to complement government’s efforts in creating a conducive environment for effective teaching-learning to take place, and to enhance unfettered access for children to acquire education.

The programme, it was learnt, is being pushed by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) as part of efforts at addressing the wide education gaps of the region, hitherto tagged disadvantaged in terms of education provision and delivery.

According to the Universal Basic Education Commission, the SBMC presently running in six northern states of Bauchi, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Niger and Kano, was introduced by the Federal Government in 2005 to complement the government efforts in the area of provision of basic needs and support for improvement of teaching and learning in primary and junior secondary school level.

Meanwhile, following the high momentum in the implementing states, it has come to the fore that the role of the SBMC in running of schools could not be over emphasised largely because basic education is not all about the efforts put in place at the centre or state government level, but that basic education is entirely at the rural level, where the communities have an advantage of identifying, monitoring and supervising the execution of school projects towards enthroning quality teaching and learning process.

Apparently, in Kano State alone, over 4,500 schools are currently engaged in the SBMC programme.

Speaking at a media dialogue facilitated by the Department of International Development (DFID) through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Kano State, UBEC’s Director of Social Mobilisation, Mr. Bello Kagara, noted that the new and modern way of addressing the people’s education needs at all levels as well as to ensure that no child is left behind in the scheme of knowledge acquisition, is the present global strategy of education that targets communities and stakeholders’ participation.

To him, the SBMC avails the host communities the opportunity to involve in school governance and management with elected, but voluntary membership of the committee.

“This membership, which is usually selected among religious and community leaders, former pupils, women and artisan associations, among others, has proven to be a veritable bridge between schools and their host communities,” he said.

Kagara added: “Educational reforms now target participatory approach and therefore, we at UBEC engaged grassroots participation through the SBMCs. The SBMCs in our opinion are the laudable programme in which we felt we could partner the communities, with a view to engaging them proficiently towards the delivery of qualitative education at the basic level.”

Expressing delight over what he described as impressive and remarkable achievements the SBMCs had so far recorded, Kagara noted that the Federal Government promised to inject N2.78 billion in the scheme for 2,505 basic schools across the country.

“SBMCs are set up to ensure the success of community participation in basic and secondary education management and delivery; and we will do everything to support it,” he added.

He insisted that mobilising parents to link up with all categories of opinion leaders and stakeholders in the education sector within their localities to bring about parents’ attitudinal change towards education and development of the schools was a stepping stone to crash the high figure of out-of-school children in the country.

However, the visit to Warure Special Primary School in Gwale Local Government of Kano State further gave credence to UBEC’s testimony, as the SBMC in leading a full campaign on the importance of basic education, already facilitated the construction of blocks of 32 classrooms, built 33 toilets and a computer room for students, as well as provided borehole in the school.

The Head-Teacher of the school, Yusi Dandago, who underscored the significance of SBMC in the management of the school, noted that the Committee is now charting a pathway for better education delivery for the children than before by sensitising community members on enrolment, attendance, retention and completion of pupils in schools, as well as engaging in campaigns on the rights of children in the community to education, health and others.

According to him, the school, which was established in 1959 with only 30 pupils, could presently boasts of over 2,728 pupils, consisting of 1,459 males and 1,269 females, with 30 teachers and operate in 32 classrooms.

Dandago, who said he was impressed about the development and expressed parents’ delight over the development, however, added that the SBMC is currently sponsoring 86 orphans and 91 less-privileged and indigent students in the school.

He said: “The school SBMC was established in 2012 with the support of DFID Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) with its members well trained. We also received support such as grants for the development of the school.

“Some of the developmental projects put in place by the Committee include re-admission of pupils who were dropped out of school, and providing them with uniforms and writing materials; renovation of classrooms, provision of mechanised borehole, completion of the school’s perimeter fence, as well as construction of the head teacher’s toilet, among other projects being facilitated by SBMC.”

Reeling out the impact of the scheme in Zamfara State, the State Chairman SBMC, Abubakar Dogo, called for strong collaboration among all stakeholders in education sector in the North; the government, SBMCs, and the Almajiri/Tsangaya or Islamic schools to boost enrollment, retention and completion of children in the next five years.

“SBMC can revive the dwindling fortunes of basic education in the country since its operations and activities are almost inclusive of all the community members with different perspectives, but most importantly with their sole aim about how to get the schools to work effectively. Therefore, since the community members are fully involved in the management of the schools, the financial management of the schools is transparent, while the people are motivated.”

Meanwhile, a teacher, Hadiza Abdullahi, who has been teaching at Wurare Special Primary School for the past 11 years, expressed her excitement over the positive changes the school had witnessed since the coming of the SBMC on board into the management of the school.

She, however, commended   other sub-committees of the SBMC for the door-to-door advocacy on the importance of education, provision of uniforms and learning materials to pupils, noting that the rate of begging and hawking during school hours had drastically reduced as students now come to school early.

“We don’t feel discouraged, we expect every child to have a sound education in Kano State and in the North generally. Before now many people usually said that northerners do not go to school, but now that has greatly changed as the people are now embracing western and formal education, with many children attending school,” Dogo added.

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I’m not hindered by my poor background – Student entrepreneur

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I’m not hindered by my poor background – Student entrepreneur

“What a man can do, a woman can do better.”

With these words, Zakariyau Wakilat Kikelomo, a final year undergraduate of Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Osogbo, now an entrepreneur, valedictorian, writer, blogger and a growing philanthropist, has demonstrated that one’s socio-economic background is never a hindrance to the limit one could attain in life.

Through her determination, she has already established giant strides in making meaning out of the unstable world, by changing her poverty history.

“Coming from the mud is not a barrier to being the best you can become,” she had said, while sharing her experience.

Zakariyau, despite her poor economic background, which she did not allow to bog her down, has taken the bold step, like a giant, to embrace hard work in order to face the vicissitude of life and ensure she succeeds against all odds.

With a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 5 points, Zakariyau, a First Class student, a feat she has maintain since her 100-Level, has shown that to make it in life is not only about education, but by dint of hard work, focus and entrepreneurship.

Given such determination, Zakariyau is today an entrepreneur, who runs a non-governmental initiative that is aimed at enriching and impacting lives, especially of kids and teenagers.

However, the undergraduate, who has shaken off the toga of her poor socio-economic background, explained further that to have come from poor background was not the challenge, but how to use the God-given talents to the maximum not only for personal benefits, but also for others and the development of the society in general.

While narrating the motive behind her entrepreneurial initiative, tagged: “Dainty Zawak,” she added: “It was borne out of the desire to make a difference in the society; to make sure my impact is positively felt in the society so as not to be like the proverbial snake that crawls on the rock without making any impact. So, I want to touch lives.

“I have always had it in mind since I was young, but I never had the opportunity to do it until recently (last year) when I met some like minds, who shared my inspiration and idea, and thus we kick started the initiative.”

On the objectives the initiative, Zakariyau further said that Dainty Zawak was among other things set to help people, especially kids and teenagers to maximise their age-long hidden potentials and to be able to achieve their dreams, as no dream should be seen as either too big or too small or too “stupid” to achieve.

“Everyone can achieve something, because everybody is born to do and achieve certain thing in this world, so Dainty Zawak initiative will help them achieve that thing they are meant to achieve as well as realise that purpose for which they come to this world to attain,” she stressed.

The student added: “The people need help beyond food, because food is not the only basic necessity for survival. Lack of skills and timely assistant or help to realise one’s gifts or potential is a great problem and we at Dainty Zawak initiative will make sure everyone gets that help. To do this, we go to schools to talk to the students, organise conferences, seminars/workshop and career talks that are motivational driven, and now we are planning to broadcast our conferences so as to reach a larger audience.”

When asked if there are sponsors for the initiative, she simply replied that there were no official sponsors for the initiative yet, but that it is being funded by like minds who are interested to give back to the society.

This lack of sponsors, she noted had continued to hinder her plans to expand the scope of initiative to a global one, saying: “But lack of funding is making it rather difficult for us to expand the scope of the initiative. At this stage, if corporate organisations and philanthropists are willing to help, we will also be willing to go into collaboration with them as this will go a long way in touching millions of lives in Nigeria and Africa by extension.

Zakariyau, an entrepreneur and business woman, who specializes in bead making, is the Chief Executive Organisation (CEO) of Zawak Beads, a reputable bead making outlet, which is currently making waves in the fashion industry in Osun State, and beyond.

Apart from the Zawak Beads, which she is using its proceeds to support herself and funding her education, Zakariyau is also a writer, and a blogger, who writes for several magazines.

Zakariyau, who is currently the Editor-In-Chief of the UNIOSUN Mirror Magazine, a training magazine for students of Linguistics and Communication Studies, described the feat as remarkable, as she is the first female to attain such position on campus.

While speaking to New Telegraph, she noted that she enjoys the experience of being the Editor-In-Chief of the trainee magazine, which she noted had helped tremendously in developing her leadership quality and style, and has also gone a long way in assisting her to learn, grow and take decisions for many people.

She, however, described the experience as awesome, and advised the youths, especially students “not to allow their socio-economic background, religion or tribe to put them backward.”

Zakariyau noted: “You are never too old or too young to make impact in the world, just follow your dreams and do it. I came from a poor economic background and now I am a successful entrepreneur, valedictorian, writer, blogger and a growing philanthropist. So, it does not matter where you are coming from, all that matters, is where you are going and what you aspire to become.”

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Teaching not what it ought to be –Maltina Teacher of the Year

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Teaching not what it ought to be –Maltina Teacher of the Year

“I am highly excited and this has given me the opportunity to promote teaching. Being the Maltina Teacher of the Year for 2019, I will become an inspiration to other teachers. I thank God for the privilege to make me the face of Nigerian teachers this year.”

These are part of the words of Ezem Collin Chizuruoke, a teacher at Royal Academy, Wuse, Abuja, as he was crowned as the 2019 Maltina Teacher of the Year during the award presentation, which took place at Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos.

The 38-year-old Abia State born teacher, who started his teaching career 10 years ago, described teaching as interesting, saying there are a lot of ground to cover in the profession given the deployment of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and the right classroom environment.

The Maltina Teacher of the Year initiative, which entered its fifth edition this year, was instituted in 2015 by the Nigerian Breweries Plc, under the auspices of the Nigerian Breweries-Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund, which was instituted in 1994 with a seed capital of N100 million to promote sustainable quality of education through structured intervention in the sector.

Ezem, therefore, lauded the Nigerian Breweries for the yearly programme, saying it has gone a long way in bringing more innovation into teaching: “I want to thank Nigerian Breweries for all the sacrifice to ensure that the initiative is sustained,” he added.

However, he regretted that teaching had not been what it ought to be in the country, as many young people had already lost interest in the profession, but he reiterated his determination  to invigorate campaign to promote teaching. 

“I want to share with us briefly to know that there is hope for Nigeria because the teachers are the foot soldiers of Nigerian Constitution and Nigerian curriculum. And, we will not relent to be the foot soldiers,” Ezem added.

Still on his emergence as the best teacher, he noted: “I want to appreciate the teachers working tirelessly to make sure that we raise the heads, the hearts, and the hands of our students and pupils.”

For emerging as the Maltina Teacher of the Year, Ezem received N500,000 as state champion and N1 million cash, and N1 million every year for the next five years and a capacity development training abroad, while his school gets a furnished six-classroom block worth N20 million as part of the winning prizes.

The first runner up smiled home with N1 million in addition to the N500,000 he received as state champion, while the second runner up N750,000 and N500,000 as state champion.

The Corporate Affairs Director of the company, Mrs. Sade Morgan, however, said that a total of 1,310 entries from 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory were received this year, saying the number was quantum leap of 104 per cent increase over the 641 entries received for the last year’s edition.

She said: “The 1,310 entries we received for this year’s edition were subjected to an intensive selection and judging process by our independent and external panel of judges to ensure transparency, credibility and objectivity.

The multi-step evaluation of entries produced an impressive list of 23 State champions, who are out first set of winners. From these State Champions, the top 10 candidates underwent further assessment by the panel of judges to select the 2019 Maltina Teacher of the Year.

“Our strategy of creating more entry platforms by supplementing physical channels with digital and electronic channels, helped with the success we recorded in this regard.”

According to her, the strict evaluation process applied by the panel, led by Prof. Pat Utomi, exemplifies a core objective of the Maltina Teacher of the Year campaign, upholding excellent standard of the teachers, which would ultimately result in better student performance.

“Today’s grand finale gives us an opportunity to share happiness with our teachers. I hope that this initiative remains everyone to support and encourage our teachers always,” Mrs. Morgan added.

On his part, the Managing Director/CEO of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Jordi Borrut Bel, however, noted that teachers play vital role in the education of any country, stressing that the yearly award was instituted in 2015 to celebrate teachers for their contribution to mental and knowledge development as well as to celebrate the teaching profession.

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Group seeks review of varsity establishment policy

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Group seeks review of varsity establishment policy

non-governmental organisation, under the aegis of the Scholarship Aid Initiative, has called on the National Universities Commission (NUC), the agency supervising university education in the country, to review the government policy on the establishment of universities.

The African Regional President of the organisation, Dr. Adebayo Oluwatosin, who spoke at a stakeholders’ forum in Abeokuta, Ogun State, said existing policy on setting up of universities had led to expensive tertiary education system in Nigeria.

He also stressed the need to include private universities as beneficiaries of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) grants as part of efforts to reduce high tuition in privately-owned institutions.

With the theme: “Graduate Unemployment Problems in Nigeria: Causes and Way Out,” part of the high points of the event was the award of scholarship to about 4,000 university and polytechnic students across the country.

Oluwatosin, an educationist, said unless the system was changed, the problems bedevilling the education sector would continue unabated, adding: “Our problem is the system and until the government changes the system, we might not be out of this problem because the government knows the right thing to do, but they are not doing it.”

He noted: “The policy must change. Let us go back to the basis. Let the government begin to fund private universities so that their tuition fees can be reduced.

“Also, the NUC policy which is most worrying of them all, whereby the government will ask you for 100 hectares of land, N200 million bank draft, N1 million application fee, N5 million processing fee, apart from other requirements are also responsible for high cost of education.

“The government should make the establishment of university attractive. In developed nations, a building can be used to start a university, although it might be specialized institution.”

The African Regional President, who also bemoaned the rising rate of graduate unemployment, however, urged government to fix the power sector in order to create enabling environment for massive job creation.

“The current unemployment challenge still depends on government policy. There is no electricity and security. How do you want investors to come to your environment? The problem of electricity forced some companies to relocate their businesses to neighbouring African countries and consequently, no more jobs in the country,” he said.

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U.S. Consul General tasks 2019 Mandela Fellows on community service

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U.S. Consul General tasks 2019 Mandela Fellows on community service

The United States (U.S.) Mission has asked the 56 young Nigerians who participated in the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship to compare notes on their fellowship experiences and explore how they can enhance their community service and impact in Nigeria in particular.

The 56 Nigerians were among the 700 young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa that recently completed a six-week intensive academic and leadership programme at some of the most prestigious U.S. colleges and universities.

While welcoming the Fellows of the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship to a two-day reunion conference, which took place in Lagos, the U.S. Consul General, Claire Pierangelo said: “The Fellows should compare notes on their fellowship experiences and explore how they can enhance their community service and impact in Nigeria.”

He added: “I encourage you to continue to work to improve your communities, to mentor young people, to be politically active, and thereby strive to create a Nigeria that will truly be the giant of Africa.”

In her remarks, Consul General Pierangelo further debriefed some of the Fellows to learn about their experiences in the United States.

Meanwhile, responding, they Fellows expressed gratitude to the United States Government for the Fellowship and pledged their eagerness to commence work in their respective communities

The Mandela Washington Fellowship was introduced in 2014 and the U.S. Government has sent nearly 4,000 young Africans leaders to the United States in order to equip and empower them through academic course work, leadership training and networking opportunities.

Of the 4,000 young Africans that have so far benefitted from the programme in the last five years, about 400 Nigerians are beneficiaries.

Under the programme, the Mandela Washington Fellows on return to their home countries will also continue to have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, as well as funding for projects that coincide with the U.S. Mission’s goals and objectives.

Besides, the Fellows are also free to apply for their American partners to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the Reciprocal Exchange Component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

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Education

NBTE chair restates polys’ importance to development

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NBTE chair restates polys’ importance to development

The Chairman, Governing Board of National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Prof. Modupe Adelabu has stressed the importance of polytechnic education as the future of the country, adding that vocational and technical education are the major answers to sustainable development of the nation.

The don disclosed this during a stakeholders meeting at the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta, Ogun State, which was attended by the officials of state government, led by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Tertiary Education, Prof. Sidi Osho; members of management team of the polytechnic; leaders of academic and non-academic staff unions of the institution, as well as representatives of the students’ union.

Prof. Adelabu, who was on oversight visit to the polytechnic, however, pointed out that Nigeria, was destined for greatness in line with the ideals of its founding fathers, saying as a result the country must tap into the manpower and technical resources offered by polytechnic institutions.

While commending the management and staff of polytechnic for the smooth running and stability of academic activities despite the turbulent period the institution had gone through, the NBTE boss urged the institution to continue to deliver its mandates.

Prof Adelabu, who was impressed by the number of doctorate degree holders among lecturers of the polytechnic, who are over 70 in number, she further enjoined the members of staff to make their professional and personal development a priority.

She, therefore, added that it was important for them to attend peer reviewed and international conferences, as well as write qualitative academic papers to improve their productivity, even as she disclosed that the Federal Government was ready to finance vocational and technical education as it had secured support of World Bank to boost it.

Also, on her part, Prof. Osho restated the commitment of the state government to support the polytechnic in ensuring it takes its original position as a leading technical education provider in the country.

Meanwhile, the Rector of the polytechnic, Dr. Samson Odedina, while welcoming the guests, however, said that though the institution had faced some challenges in the past two years, the polytechnic’s accreditation was never withdrawn and the location was not changed from Abeokuta.

He lauded the government for its support for the institution, and solicited the cooperation of NBTE to considering the proposal of the polytechnic for accreditation of new courses, and the re-accreditation of existing academic programmes.

       

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Education

VC pledges to reposition UNILAG despite challenges

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VC pledges to reposition UNILAG  despite challenges

Barely 20 months in office, University of Lagos (UNILAG) Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, has taken stock of his almost two years’ administration, despite the undercurrent protracted crisis between the management and the Governing Council of the 57-year-old institution.

Ogundipe, who took the leadership of the university on November 12, 2017 as the 12th substantive Vice-Chancellor, said the distraction caused by the lingering crisis not withstand, ivory tower in the last 20 months has made some appreciable gains in repositioning the university as a world class 21st Century university.

The Vice-Chancellor, while reeling out achievements of his administration, which on assumption of office was anchored on six dimensional goals, recalled that the university in the period under review, had raised awareness about the need for faculty members to accelerate need-driven research and attract more research grants to the university; established a total of 10 research centres on campus; and well as inspired project award of over Two million Euros for collaborative research among five institutions.

The administration, according to him, has also attracted Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) grants of various amounts won by faculty members; while over N2 billion was attracted as research grants by academic staff of the university in the period under review.

Other achievements of the management in the last two years, Ogundipe listed, include donation of laboratory equipment worth N20 million and $400,000 Dollars; admission of UNILAG to Global Epic, an  international group of 21 institutions working to co-create and adopt world-changing solutions to cyber security all over the world; renovation of hostels and other projects; provision of more security equipment on campus; establishment of UNILAG TV (the first of its kind in Nigeria) and attraction of about N349.2 million and $855,277 Dollars for training and capacity building to staff and students of the university, while moves are on to establish a modular refinery on campus, among others.

Appraising the Vice-Chancellor’s score card in the last 20 months, stakeholders, however, lauded the Ogundipe-led management for sustaining the vision and progress of the institution despite the crisis threatening its stability.

This is as they expressed worry over the crisis concerning the New University Library project under construction, which part collapsed on February 14, 2019, following which the Council constituted a panel, headed by Prof. Peter Fogam to unearth the immediate and remote causes of the collapsed part of the building.

Thus, the Council accused the management of operating a weak procurement process, which it said contributed to the unexpected collapse of the building.

The Governing Council led by the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, Dr. Wale Babalakin had accused the UNILAG management of involving in financial recklessness to the chagrin of the Council and grossly abused the Public Procurement System in the award of the new University Library Project and other projects, resulting in huge financial losses.

But, the Vice-Chancellor denied the allegation, saying due process was followed in the award of the contract and other finances of the university.

But, the Federal Ministry of Education and the House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement had exonerated the management of any wrong doing and ordered the contractor handling the library project, Messrs Dutum Engineering Limited, to return to site.

The House Committee on Public Procurement, while corroborating the Fogam Committee set up by the Council to look into the collapse building, in its observations and findings  on the crisis, said of the Ogundipe-led management: “That there was compliance with the requirements of due process as contained in the Public Procurement Act and Regulations as evidenced by the ‘Certificate of No Objection’ issued by the Bureau of Public Procurement.”

It, therefore, recommended: “The Committee found no infractions and breach of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007 in the award of contracts, particularly the University New Library Project awarded to Messrs Dutum Construction Limited. In view of the above and to avoid further damage to the ongoing University New Library Project, the contractor should go back to site with immediate effect and backfill the foundation and remove the debris of the collapsed framework under the strict supervision of competent experts.”

Meanwhile, the committee had further appealed to the university management, the Federal Ministry of Education and others to make additional funds available for the project so that it would not be abandoned.

As a way forward for peace to return to UNILAG so that academic and research works can continue to flourish, concerned stakeholders, including parents, staff and students, as well as the House of Representatives appealed to the warring parties to shield their swords.

A lecturer, who craved anonymity, said: “This is necessary to allow the vice-chancellor take the university to the next level, as he had promised when he was appointed that the institution would focus on six dimensional goals, which will make the ivory tower number one in Nigeria and the fourth in Africa by 2022.

“We believe in him and we are supporting him to achieve this. Prof. Ogundipe has started so well because looking at his account of stewardship, which he renders regularly, you will see that he is a serious administrator. The least thing he and the entire management needed now is distraction. The Governing Council should cooperate with this Vice-Chancellor to deliver on his promises instead of these frivolous bickering, which will do nobody any good.”

The House Committee in its report, in which it said although the composition of the Governing Council was lopsided and not in tandem with the principle of Federal Character, as there are no representatives from the South-East, South-South and North-Central on the Council, also advised its members and the university management “to cooperate with one another and work together for the progress of the university.”

It added: “The Vice-Chancellor is the Chief Accounting Officer of the university, which is in line with Section 20 of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and should continue to discharge this responsibility as expected by law, while the Governing Council sticks to their supervisory role of policy formulation and funds generation for the university. The Council should not meddle in the internal affairs of the university.”

According to the stakeholders, it is when these are strictly adhered to that peace can eventually return to the institution so as to position the university for the challenges of the 21st Century.

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Education

Foundation offers N2m scholarship to varsity students

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Foundation offers N2m scholarship to varsity students

Some outstanding students of the Department of Geology, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) in Ondo State, have become beneficiaries of a scholarship endowment scheme instituted by the Olusegun Agagu Foundation.

The scholarship scheme was instituted in honour of the late Governor of the state, the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu, a graduate and lecturer of Geology.

Presenting the N2 million cheques to the recipients at a ceremony in Akure, a member of the Board of the Foundation, Mr. Femi Agagu, who is also the state Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology, said the endowment was instituted in memory of his late brother and former Governor of the state.

He further explained that the endowment was meant to promote excellent scholarship in the field of Geology in four universities that were dear to the late Agagu, while he was alive.

The four benefiting institutions, according to him, are the University of Ibadan; Federal University of Technology, Akure; Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa; and the Adekunle Ajasin University.

Under the scheme, the Commissioner, however, noted that the best student in the Department of Geology in 200-Level and 300 –Level, would receive N50,000 each, while the overall best graduating student in the final year would get N100,000.

He stressed that the scholarship endowment was one of the several interventions of the Olusegun Agagu Foundation in the education sector, saying other intervention include scholarships awarded to indigent students in some secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun, while receiving the cheque on behalf of the university, lauded the initiative, which he said was worthy of the memory of the late Dr. Agagu, whom he described as a man of excellence and intellectual giant.

He expressed optimism that the scholarship award would go a long way to spur the recipients to be hard working and take their academic pursuit with greater commitment, even as he called on other well-meaning Nigerians to rise to the task of promoting excellence and assisting tertiary institutions in meeting their ever-growing challenges.

The Vice-Chancellor, who reiterated that the task of funding education should not be left for the government alone, however, assured members of the Board that the grant would be used strictly according to the wish of the Olusegun Agagu Foundation.

At the event were top government functionaries and principal officers of the university, as well as friends and associates of the late Governor. They include the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Olugbenga Ige; the Chairperson of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Mrs. Oladunni Odu; Special Adviser on Education, Science and Technology to the Governor, Dr. Funmi Ilawole; former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Olabimtan; and the Permanent Secretaries of SUBEB and Ministry of Education, Mrs. Funmi Oni and Mr. Akin Asaniyan respectively, among others.

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