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Nigeria at 59: Education still at low ebb

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Nigeria at 59: Education still at low ebb

REVIEW
Stakeholders are still worried that after 59 years of independence, Nigeria is yet to give its education sector a proper direction due to lack of adequate funding, the right political will and deliberate policies that will move the sector forward. KAYODE OLANREWAJU reports

 

 

Theirs is a consensus: Nigeria’s education sector, 59 years after independence, has been that of mixed grills, full of challenges and unfulfilled promises.
This is the main thrust of stakeholders’ appraisal of the sector, which in the last six decades has been bogged down with several crises threatening its effectiveness to adequately address the transformation of the country.
Some of the challenges and crises inhibiting the sector over the years, and which are yet to be addressed by successive governments since 1960, are gross inadequate funding, incessant strikes by staff unions, high tuition fees, brain drain syndrome, poor facilities, inadequate qualified teachers, shortage of classroom facilities, ineffective curriculum, mass failure in the school system, especially in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO).
The lack of political will demonstrated by the government coupled with the continued evasiveness of the concerned authorities at all levels to initiate a deliberate policy to appropriately fund the system, had remained the major blight of the sector since 1960 till date.
Going by the palpable neglect, there is no wonder the dilapidated school structures, resulting to leaking roofs, collapsed buildings, damaged window planes and dust infested floors, have remained the impediment of the sector.
According to stakeholders, if these trends were not reversed, the provision of qualitative education and making such accessible to Nigerian children will continue to elude the people, due to negligence of the government that has failed to set its priority right.
Sadly enough, many public schools across the country are today characterised with dilapidated school structures with students sitting and learning under sheds, trees on dust infested floors, without qualified teachers.
They also claimed that the burden of education had become overwhelming, thereby resulting in more than 100 pupils to one teacher in a classroom against the UNESCO benchmark of 35 students per teacher due to lack of adequate classroom facilities.
As the country rolled out the drums to celebrate its 59th Independence anniversary of nationhood, critical stakeholders in the education sector, are not happy that the government has failed to confront headlong the challenges hindering the search to evolve a virile education system that would transform the country since 1960.
Critical stakeholders including the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU); Non-Academic Staff of Universities (NASU) and other policy makers, are lamenting that efforts and agitations by various concerned citizens to reinvent the wheel of the sector, had not been adequately addressed by the governments at the federal and state levels.
Today, poor budgetary allocation to say the least, to education sector by federal and state government, over the years, has constituted the major handicap slowing down the growth of the sector, which ordinarily would trigger the nation’s socio-economic, technological and industrial emancipation.
Specifically, in the last 20 years of democratic administration, education has not gotten its fair share in the resources of the country, given the steady decline in the allocations to sector at all levels, which is therefore raising concern among stakeholders.
To stakeholders, the poor budget to education will continue to taunt the sectoral development, until the government demonstrates convincing determination to address the critical underfunding.
In the last 59 years, the sector has produced no fewer than 37 Ministers of Education and 14 Ministers of States; but despite the system is still hamstrung with problems of inconsistent or policy summersault and failed promises with less than 15 per cent of the nation’s fiscal budget voted to the sector.
In fact, in the last 59 years, the sector has witnessed a steady increase in the number of schools at primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, as well as rising population of students.
With the about 174 universities (public and private), 120 polytechnics and 82 colleges of education (federal, state and private), the institutions are grossly insufficient to meet the educational needs of the over 180 million Nigerian population.
With the alarming figures of over two million candidates, who sit for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) yearly conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO) respectively, the institutions could not provide admission spaces for the teeming students yearly.
Therefore, what the system requires, according to stakeholders, is for the government to address the acute underfunding facing the sector with a view to providing the ground for expansion and infrastructural development of the institutions to deliver their mandates and provide access for the Nigerian children.
Some efforts by the government over the years to enhance the sector include the establishment of more higher institutions, introduction of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), which is providing funds for infrastructural, research and training of staff of higher institutions; the NEEDS Assessment geared to provide funding intervention for the sector; Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) charged with the responsibility of addressing the needs of primary and basic education; as well as the Treasury Single Account  (TSA) to ensure financial transparency especially in higher institutions; the Federal Government Reading Campaign, the Federal Government Home Grown School Feeding Programme introduced by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for which over N500 billion under the Social Investment Programme (SIP) was appropriated between 2016 and 2017 for the programme.
The programme, which has already covered almost 30 states of the federation, is to boost enrolment and retention of pupils in primary schools across the federation.
According to plans, over 24 million school children in the 36 states of the federation, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja are to benefit from the programme.
Also, the sector is burdened with the problem of 13.2 million out-of-school children, which the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu had in the twilight of his first term, apologised to Nigerians for failure to keep to his promise to reduce the number of out-of-school children (OSC) in the country by half at the end of his tenure.
According to him, it was a shame that Nigeria still remains the country with the highest number of OSC despite a reduction from 13 million to about 10.1 million.
“It is a sad commentary on the nation’s history that in the 21st Century, Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa and perhaps in the world, ranking only second to Pakistan,” the minister regretted.
Given the position of the Minister that the education sector needed an annual budgetary allocation of about N2 trillion to address the enormous challenges and rising education demands of the country.
The level of education budget at national and state level, when put on a scale of national preference, according to him, will in totality falls below the much touted 20 to 26 per cent recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) of the nation’s fiscal budget to education, as the case may be.
The Minister, who had admitted that Nigeria was yet to meet its responsibility to the sector, however, wondered that the present allocation falls below the 15 to 20 per cent minimum percentage recommended for developing countries by the international organisation, to enable the countries to meet their education needs.
Apart from releasing funds for the sector, there was also the critical need to ensure that state governments sustained their counterpart funding for UBEC, and backed such with effective monitoring for transparency and accountability at the state level for public primary and secondary schools to witness a new lease of life.
Others major problems in the sector include proliferation of substandard private schools, alarming involvement of Nigerian students in cyber fraud and cultism, as well as low research profile of universities and other research institutes and poor ranking of Nigerian universities on the world universities ranking table, as well as the inability of state government to pay their counterpart funds to access the UBEC matching funds running to several billions of naira in order to address the rot in the basic education sector.
Worried by the quality of education in the school system, the government had been tasked on the need to beam its searchlight on deficiencies in the curriculum in terms of relevance to the society, especially at primary and secondary schools, where students are overloaded with school subjects.
Despites all the efforts undertaken by the government to develop education, the sector is still stagnated due to lack of the required political will on the part of the government to muster the needed strength to make the initiatives work.
In their appraisal of the sector in the last 59 years, stakeholders, however, insisted that this was not the time to gloss over the challenges, but to collectively initiate moves that will rescue the system.
As part of the way out, they called on the government at all levels to muster the right political will that will reposition the sector.
However, ASUU through its National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, described the challenge of budgetary allocation by Federal Government, as the major crisis hamstrung the sector, saying the state governments neither fared better in their commitment to address the nation’s education needs.
The ASUU President, who pointed out that there had been steady increase in the number of schools, colleges, polytechnics and universities; with increased number of attendees/students and products, however, lamented that despite the level of expansion, educational provisions had not been matched with the expected level of input and support to make the desired impact.
He blamed the yawning gap between quality and quantity of education on lack of political will or the adoption of a wrong paradigm for development by the ruling class for failing to synchronise provision of education with the developmental aspirations of the country, like is done in other developed climes.
Though, he identified that the Federal Government has improved in implementing the FG/ASUU Agreement to an extent, he expressed regret that “the country lost its compass the moment Nigerian rulers began to pay lip service to education.”
Ogunyemi also recalled that ASUU started sounding the alarm bell way back in the late 1970s, when budgetary allocations by the federal and state governments began to dwindle, saying: “In all its negotiations with the Federal Government since 1982, ASUU had consistently drawn government’s attention to the criminal neglect of public education. But, rather than heeding the union’s advice and embracing ASUU’s suggested path to revamping the sector, the government continued to rely on the anti-people policies of commercialisation and privatisation sold to them by the Briton Wood institutions (IMF and World Bank),” the ASUU leader said.
According to him, these policies had, ironically, continued to take access to qualitative education beyond the reach of poor Nigerians.
To move the system forward, ASUU recalled that the Education Bank experiment was introduced in 1993, but was folded up after about seven years of woeful performance, largely because the government failed to fulfill its financial obligations and the management of the bank was bedeviled by massive corruption.
ASUU, which also bemoaned state governments’ attitude to address education needs, when it comes to the deliverables of quality education, lamented how many states had turned their back on the UBEC funds allocated to them by refusing to provide the conditional matching grants, which would have enhanced the basic education sub-sector.
“This is very disheartening because it is happening at a time Nigerian public primary and secondary schools are in dire need of benches, tables, roofs, windows, doors, school walls, and other basic ingredients of quality education,” Ogunyemi noted.
On the poor funding of the sector, the former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and a Distinguished Professor of Science Education at the Lagos State University (LASU), said to address the rot in the sector and as a way forward, the country should be able to aggregate 30 per cent of its budget to education in the next 10 years.
Okebukola, who hinted that the sector was still far below the mark in terms of funding, further explained that it was incontrovertible that funding of the education sector had in the last four years took a refreshing leap upwards from about seven per cent to close to nine per cent at the federal level.
According to him, if all funding sources from federal, states, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and other international interventions are pooled together, the sector budget wise would have attained more than 11 per cent mark.
In the area of infrastructural development, the don recalled that data from the 2012 National NEEDS Assessment Survey present empirical backing to support lamentable learning environment of primary and secondary schools, while many higher educational institutions have facilities like glorified secondary schools.
Similarly, he cited the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme of the Federal Government, which has impacted significantly on school enrolment and retention, as a remarkable achievement of the government in the primary school sub-sector.
Okebukola also spoke on the National Policy on Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education, enacted in 2018 by the President Buhari’s administration, which within a year, had witnessed the tremendous growth of OERs in Nigerian universities; listing the teacher certification policy under the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN); as well as the Treasury Single Account (TSA) put in place to ensure financial transparency in the system; improvement of the quality assurance operations of the National Universities Commission as the model quality assurance agency in Africa; while the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has set good standards for public accountability and integrity in the conduct of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) as some of the improvement in the system.
Similarly, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Dr. Masaudu Kazaure, said the government needs to address the problems of the alarming figure of out-of-school children; as well as tackle the problem of skills gaps, and pay adequate attention to the development of Technical, Vocational Education and Technology (TVET).
He bemoaned the poor budget allocation to the sector, calling for more private sector participation and involvement in the sector, as it had been the case since 2015 to date.
The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, in his dinner speech at the 2019 convocation of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL), held at the University of Lagos, traced the problems of education sector to mid-1970s.
In the paper entitled: “The Challenge of University Education in Nigeria,” he recalled how in September of 1976, the then Head of the military government, General Olusegun Obasanjo, launched the Universal Free Primary Education Scheme (UPE), clearly the most gigantic educational project ever in the history of Nigeria.
Presently, he said the obvious rapid enrollment into primary and secondary schools had started to create a deficit between the number of students seeking higher education and the amount of slots available in the universities.
“As at 2018, according to the National Universities Commission, there were over two million full-time undergraduates and graduates enrolled in the existing 170 universities today,” he added, saying perhaps the most fundamental of the problems confronting university system and education in particular is that of the inadequacy of funding.
Ogunbiyi, who bemoaned what he described as paltry sum of N620 billion, representing seven per cent of the 2019 federal budget allocated to education, said: “Without impinging on the broad framework of our educational objectives, we must be prepared to take the bold steps of making cuts where necessary, of eliminating wastes, creating shared services, utilising assets more efficiently and renewing the relationship between administrative and academic functions.”

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Education

A’Ibom clamps down on 1,140 illegal private schools

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A’Ibom clamps down on 1,140 illegal private schools
  • Stakeholders: Govt should carry out reforms in sector
  • Commissioner: Defaulters are to be prosecuted

 

CLOSURE
The Akwa Ibom State Government has moved to sanitise the state’s education sector by closing down over 1,140 illegal and sub-standard private schools, but the action has raised concerns among stakeholders. TONY ANICHEBE examines the development

 

Owners and operators of ‘illegal and sub-standard’ private primary and secondary schools in Akwa-Ibom State are in for difficult times.

They have been given a marching order to close shop or face the wrath of the state government.

The state government had few weeks ago, ordered the close down of no fewer than 1,140 illegal and unapproved nursery, primary and secondary schools operating in every nook and cranny of the state, for failing to meet the set standard and quality.

This is part of deliberate moves by the government to chart a new direction and restore sanity to operation and delivery of qualitative education in the state.

According to the government, the clamp down had become imperative as part of deliberate efforts to revolutionise the state’s education sector, which has been taken over by some unscrupulous elements and owners who established sub-standard schools without requisite approval and registration with relevant government agencies.

Worried by the proliferation of sub-standard private schools across the state, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Nse Essien, said the action of the government to close down the schools, was to stem the rising number of unapproved private schools with a view to tackling the sliding fortune, standard and quality education in the state.

While expressing dismay over the quality of the schools, he lamented: “These schools are not approved by the Ministry of Education, while the pupils and students are taught under unhygienic condition, deplorable and unfriendly teaching-learning environment.”

The Commissioner, however, noted that the ministry had minimum standards which must be fulfilled and obeyed before establishing private schools in the state, saying the ministry would publish the names and locations of the affected illegal schools for the public to be aware of their operation and to stop enrolling their children and wards in such schools.

Essien, who warned that defaulters would be prosecuted by the state government, added: “The names and locations of the schools would be published, and subsequently the schools will be closed down.”

However, the action of the state government to close down the 1,140 illegal nursery, primary and secondary schools has continued to generate mixed-feelings among critical stakeholders, including policy makers, parents and school proprietors across the state.

But, while stakeholders are appealing to the government to tread softly on its clamp down order considering the negative impact the closure would have on some pupils and teachers of the affected schools, the state government is insisting that there was no going back on the implementation of the directive, given the damage such schools were doing to the development of quality education and collective aspiration of the people of the state.

Already, more than 500 schools had been forcefully closed down across the three senatorial districts of the state under the strict supervision of the ministry of education and the Committee on Closure of Schools, raised by the government for that purpose.

Firing the first salvo, one of the critical stakeholders in the state’s education project, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Akwa Ibom State chapter, however, frowned at the alarming rate and proliferation of sub-standard private schools in the state.

However, expressing worry over the development, the organisation attributed this to the comatose standard of public schools, saying: “These schools sprang up to fill the wider gap in education system due to the failure of the government to provide quality schools for the children. So, the government must, as a matter of urgency, rise to its responsibilities by ensuring that the standards they set for private schools, are first met in government-owned schools in terms of infrastructural provision.”

It added: “This is because the government cannot be carrying a log in its eyes and expect to remove the speck in the eyes of other, especially owners of the illegal schools.”

The organisation, which recognised the right of the Akwa Ibom State Government to regulate, supervise and set standards for the operation of education institutions, especially at the nursery, primary and secondary school levels in the state, therefore, lauded the various efforts initiated by the state government towards ensuring that children are properly educated in order to enable them to compete favourably in the increasingly competitive environment of a globalised world.

The CLO, which also described as apt the recent education summit convened by the state, which addressing pressing education issues, condemned the mushrooming of sub-standard schools across the state.

The organisation, in a statement signed by its Chairman and Campaigns/Publicity Secretary, Otuekong Franklyn Isong and Comrade David Augustine, respectively, and which was made available to New Telegraph, regretted that the schools constitute a setback to the state’s march towards a well-educated citizenry.

Towards this end, the CLO urged the government to do everything possible within its capacity to check the trend and ensure that only schools that met the standards and operating in line with the government guidelines are allowed to operate in the state.

For the government to actually sanitise the sector, the organisation advised the government to first address the many ills and shortcomings in the state’s public school system, which according to it, include deplorable level of infrastructure; dearth of qualified teachers in schools in the rural areas; inadequate facilities; lack of basic teaching materials; as well as lack of libraries, computer laboratories, science laboratories and other infrastructure that aid learning in schools.

The statement further blamed the poor standard of the state’s education on lack of the right political will on the part of the government, which it also accused of playing politics with the education of the children, saying it has become imperative for government to carry out fundamental reforms in the education sector.

“The CLO wishes to advise the government to painstakingly look at the teaching and learning environment in public schools, which necessitated the rush by parents to withdraw their children and wards in droves from public schools. It is instructive that even teachers in public schools do not send their children to public schools where they teach, let alone the well-heeled government officials and civil servants in the state,” the statement added.

The organisation wondered that several communities in the state have no public schools at the primary and secondary school levels, saying that the illegal schools were established to fill the gap.

“For a very long-time now, successive governments have not deemed it fit to establish new schools in the state or fix the decayed in the system. These are the unfortunate gaps in which these owners are cashing in on to milk parents in the name of private schools,” it added.

As a way forward, the state government has been urged to rehabilitate existing public schools by equipping them with necessary instructional materials and facilities for the school to be more attractive and conducive to provide qualitative learning and teaching.

This could be done by recruiting more qualified teachers, retraining of teachers, enhancing welfare of teachers through better remuneration and regular payment of pension to retired teachers.

“The state government should commence immediately massive establishment of schools to address the distance children have to cover before they can get a public school to enroll,” stakeholders said.

According to them, the so-called illegal schools, rather than being shut down with immediate effect as directed by government, should be given an ultimatum to meet the set requirements, as well as a period of window within which to shape up or be shipped off.

Thus, they expressed worry that a wholesale closure of the private schools would have terrible consequences on the sector as inadequate existing public schools will be over stretched, while shylock private school proprietors will capitalise on it to take school fees to the rooftops.

Still piqued by the development in which several thousands of students will be out of school and teachers out of job, the state Ministry of Education has been challenged to live up to its responsibilities in ensuring that schools that are not approved do not commence classes.

“It is a mark of utter dereliction of duties that over 1,140 sub-standard private schools are in operation across the state for this while without the attention of government,” they lamented.

While reacting to the development, some parents, who spoke with New Telegraph, said the shortage of public schools and poor quality of some of the schools forced them to enroll their children and wards in private schools.

“Since we are left with no option in the face of inadequate public schools across the state, and we must educate our children and wards, we have to enroll them in available private schools. The government should rise up to the challenge of improving the public schools and establish new ones to create unfettered access to education for children of the state,” they added.   

However, the government has vowed that it owed a huge responsibility to children of the state to provide them qualitative education.

Towards this end, the Commissioner for Education called on stakeholders to collaborate with the ministry in ensuring that the education sector is sanitised.

He told New Telegraph that the Committee on Closure of Schools had already been directed to shut down unapproved and illegal schools across the three senatorial districts of the state, and which had since commenced work.

Therefore, he said that it is now compulsory for private school owners to meet basic requirements they need to fulfill, while some level of inspection would be carried out before any school is given approval to operate.

The Commissioner reiterated: “Most of the private schools are operating illegally as the ministry is not aware of their existence. Our children deserve the best standard of education and parents must have value for their money.

“Until we conclude the process, schools that are trying to regularise would not be allowed to operate till they tidy up their papers. One of the dangers of patronising these illegal schools is that the schools will not be allowed to take placement examinations into our secondary schools; neither will they be allowed to register students for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and National Examination Council (NECO).

“We will liaise with WAEC and NECO to ensure that these illegal schools do not participate in their examinations.”

On the strategy to be adopted in making the exercise more effective, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Education Monitoring, Mrs. Idongesit Etiebiet, who frowned at the spate of illegal schools in the state, described the situation as alarming and unfortunate.

She, therefore, added that no child in such learning atmosphere can acquire qualitative education to measure up with the demands of the contemporary 21st Century society.

According to her, the schools lack necessary basic teaching facilities and conducive environment for qualitative learning to take place.

She advised parents to be mindful of the type of schools they enroll their children and wards forthwith, saying the schools are not only without identification, they lack qualified teachers and content to deliver the right knowledge, which is detrimental to the system.

Again, she noted that the school system was a very sensitive area that should not be toyed with, and urged prospective or intending school owners to take into consideration the requirements as stipulated by the ministry before venturing into establishment of schools, describing school ownership as serious business.

 

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Education

Stakeholders to chart course for education rights, inclusion

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Stakeholders to chart course for education rights, inclusion

Critical key players and policy makers in the education sector across the world will next month converged on Abuja for the Sixth International Society of Comparative Education, Science & Technology (ISCEST) Conference to brainstorm on issues bothering on education rights and inclusion in Nigerian schools.

In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on the forthcoming conference, where these critical issues will take the front burner, the founding President of ISCEST Nigeria, Prof. Steve Azaiki, noted that the workshop was coming at a time when most Nigerians are concerned about of their educational rights.

While noting that the growth and changes taking place within institutions around the world have implications for national and sustainable development, he said the conference would provide numerous opportunities for participants from various countries to compare notes on key challenges and teaching techniques across all levels of education delivery.

The don said: “This conference purposes to stimulate debate on a wide range of practices, issues, and solutions related to education, science, and technology. As the 21st Century speeds along, it is imperative for curriculum developers, policy makers, education officials and all concerned citizens to consider best practices that will allow the broad spectrum of educational activities to contribute to Nigeria and Africa’s development.

“The sixth-ISCEST conference provides an important platform to discuss issues that bother many Nigerians concerning their education rights. The sessions and side-sessions will cover some of the most pertinent themes relating to educational rights and inclusion in Nigeria. These include Education, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Engineering Science and Technology.

“The range and depth of the discussions which have taken place at previous editions of the conference have positioned ISCEST-Nigeria as one of the premier scholarly organisation for shaping the conversations and policy outcomes on education in Africa.

“The diversity of conversations also caters to the diverse range of participants within the continent and beyond, and across civil society, the private sector, academia, government and other stakeholders.”

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Education

I love mathematics, science – Winner of Cowbellpedia TV show

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I love mathematics, science – Winner of Cowbellpedia TV show

“I love number and Mathematics right from primary school during my teenage days. I see Mathematics as a very interesting subject which I read and practise always. I feel great and happy for my outstanding performance at this mathematics competition.”

These were the words of Oghenero Ologe, a Senior Secondary School (SS) student of Zionfield Pinnacle Private School, Ikorodu, Lagos, who was crowned as the overall winner of the 2019 Cowbellpedia Mathematics Champions in the Senior Category.

Ologe, 15, whose ambition, is to study Computer Engineering at a university in either America or Europe, received N2 million, an all-expense paid education excursion outside the country, a plague for emerging as the Mathematics Champion in the Finals of Season Five of the Cowbellpedia Secondary Schools Mathematics Television Quiz Show.

“It is nice and wonderful to be the champion,” Ologe, a first time contestant in the Cowbellpedia competition, recalled how he watched several episodes of the competition to sharpen his preparation ahead of the contest.

“I did not participate in the junior category of the competition, but I was determined to make an impact and so, I practised and worked hard,” the 15-year old boy said.

He defeated Akinyemi Dabira of The Ambassadors College, Ota, Ogun State and Hezekiah Olabisi of Bibo Oluwa Academy, Ilesha, Osun State, who emerged first and second runner-up respectively in the senior category.

In the junior category, Michael Enehizena of The Scholars Universal Secondary School, Ota, Ogun State won the category with 125 points at the end of the two-round encounter, to defeat  Abdul-Quayum Alli of Ota Total Academy, Ota, Ogun State, who had 115 points and David Charles of Graceland International Secondary School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, who scored 110 points to place second and third respectively.

Fourteen-year-old Enehizena, who dedicated his victory to God and his parents, explained that he ‘practised hard and prayed harder’ during the competition.

“I am always very excited with the way the Cowbellpedia winners are celebrated. We see them on television screen and read about them and their schools in the newspapers and online media. I am excited and grateful to God that it is my turn to be celebrated now,” he added.

Enehizena said his aspiration is to study Mechanical Engineering at the university.

His teacher, Daniel Ogunleye commended him for his wonderful performance and lauded Promasidor for exposing the students’ great talents through the Cowbellpedia initiative.

The yearly Mathematics contest was instituted and sponsored by Cowbell Milk, the flagship brand of Promasidor Nigeria Limited.

Oghenero mother, Mrs. Ologe Udochika Goodness, the Proprietress of Zionfield Pinnacle Private School, Offin-Ile, Igbogbo in Ikorodu, Lagos, who expressed excitement over the performance of his son, described Oghenero as a lover of numbers and Mathematics.

She said: “Oghenero, the first child of the family, has since childhood demonstrated love Mathematics as he always play with numbers. At his tender age he wrote from number one to four million, and from there I knew he is really in love with numbers. I am excited and very happy for winning the competition and for making the family and the school proud.

Mrs. Ologe, who is also a teacher, discouraged the practice in which some parents force career or field of study on their children, saying she only encourage her children on what they choose to do.

“Oghenero loves book and he is an introvert; he hardly talk. His field is science and he assists other students in science and mostly Mathematics,” she added.

On the school’s preparation for the competition, the Proprietress, who recalled that the school  organised Mathematics Clinic for the students, said the teachers adequately prepared and coached Oghenero for the competition from the preliminary to the final stage.

His teacher, Mr. Saheed Owolabi, who accompanied the student and his mother to the final stage of the competition, held at 1001 Studio, Bamako Street, Omole, Lagos, described Oghenero as a hardworking and a lover of mathematics.

“I am not surprised he made it to the finals and won the senior category of the competition,” he said.

For their exemplary performance, the two champions in the senior and junior categories received N2 million cash each, and an all-expense paid education excursion outside the country, and plaques.

The first and second runners-up in each category also received N1.5 million and N1 million respectively, while the teachers of the top prize winners were awarded N500,000, and the teachers of the first and second runners-up received N400,000 and N300,000 cash respectively.

Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Promasidor Nigerian Limited, Mr. Einarsson Anderson reiterated the commitment of the company towards education, saying it is the most important investment for the future of the Nigerian children.

He praised the finalists for their excellent performance, while also assuring stakeholders that Promasidor will continue to support and stimulate academic development of Nigerian children.

Over 56,000 students participated in this year’s edition of the competition, out of whom 218 contestants made it to the second stage.

The Registrar/CEO of the National Examination Council (NECO), which is partnering Promasidor in the competition, Alhaji Abubakar Gana, who was represented by Mr. Stephen Adebunmi, described the competition as a wakeup call for students to embrace mathematics.

He said the yearly event was designed to bolster students’ performance in mathematics, evaluate careers, identify mathematics champions, as well as provide a veritable platform to reward talents in mathematics.

Gana, however, praised the management of Promasidor for introducing the competition, which he noted, has gone a long way to promote the teaching and learning of mathematics in Nigerian schools.   

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Education

NASRDA trains 200 young African astronomers

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NASRDA trains 200 young African astronomers

No fewer than 200 young astronomers across West African countries, comprising undergraduate and graduate students have been trained by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Centre for Basic Space Centre (CBSS), University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) at the International Summer School/Training 2019, which took place in Abuja.

The training is part of the mandates of NASRDA to develop Space Research and Technology Innovation through training of students.

The one-week training programme, which assembled over 200 undergraduate and postgraduate students were trained in various fields of Astronomy and Space Technology at the Borofice Ajayi Conference Centre, NASRDA, Abuja by no fewer than 13 foreign instructors.

The Summer School, tagged: “Empowering Young Africans in Becoming Scientific Leaders,” which is aimed at sensitising and training students in secondary school and higher institutions was the fourth edition of the programme.

The summer school was declared opened by the Acting Director-General of NASRDA, Mr. Jonathan Angulu, who was represented by the Director Space Application, Dr. Olufemi Agboola, who recalled that the agency through the office of the Astronomical Union-Office of West African Astronomy for Development (WAROAD) International had trained students for the development of the country.

Angulu, however, added that with the level of achievements and the milestone achieved by the agency in building synergy between the international community and its collaborators in the country, the development in space technology would thrive.

According to him, some research carried out by the centre had been recommended to various government agencies in the country with a view to tackling the high rate of insecurity at all levels.

He, therefore, encouraged the students to utilised the knowledge acquired at the summer school as the foundation of academic progress in their career, promising that the agency will not relent in its efforts in bring out the best in space technology towards the betterment of the country.

Responding, the Director, Centre for Basic Space Science, at the University of Nigeria, Dr. Bonaventure Okere recalled how the summer school was instituted at a conference in 2012 by Dr. Jielai Zhang of the University of Australia; Dr. James Chibueze and Dr. Linda Strubbe, University of British Columbia, and the first training was held at NASRDA Headquarters in Abuja, in 2013, which was hosted at UNN IN 2015, and Ghana in 2017.

Okere said part of the reasons for establishing the summer school was to set professional standard in actualising the vision in technology innovation; to set young Nigerians as a leading voice in astronomy research and development on the African continent.

He, however, implored the students to utilise the experience acquired at the training to create enduring careers for themselves.

On the challenges facing astronomy research and development in the country, Okere hinted that that there was the need for special funds to position Nigeria as first in world astronomy map.

Before the commencement of the 2019 Summer School activities, the instructors visited the Vice-Chancellor of University of Abuja, Prof. Abdulrasheed Na’Allah, who lauded the team, led by Dr. Okere of NASRDA on the positive impact of the programme on the educational development of institution.

The Vice-Chancellor, who was represented by Prof. Ekundayo Oyegoke Ajala underscored the positive impacts of space research in the advancement of the nation’s technology in winning the war against insurgency, environmental hazard and agricultural revolution, among others.

“Space Research and Innovation as fundamental of technology cannot be underestimated,” he said.

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Education

Lagos students win NTA national expo

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Lagos students win NTA national expo

Students of Lagos State schools have emerged the overall winners of this year’s edition of the 2019 Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) National Children’s Arts, Science and Technology Expo.

The students came first and third in the Arts/Crafts, and Science and Technology categories respectively.

While congratulating the champions, the state Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, commended the team for the victory and for making the state proud.

She, however, reaffirmed that the students of the state had over the years been consistent in winning laurels in various competitions, which according to her, has given credence to the state government’s efforts in enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in Lagos public schools.

“On receiving the news of the state performance in the competition, my joy knows no bounds that you took the challenge seriously and have made the state proud, especially with this excellent performance in the competition, and also for the trophy and gifts won. I congratulate you and wish you all the very best as a team, and as individual students,” the Commissioner said.

Mrs. Adefisayo, who expressed displeasure over the state’s third position in the Engineering Innovative Project in the Science and Technology category, however, charged the students to double their efforts in the next competition.

She said: “As a Centre of Excellence, Lagos State cannot afford to trail behind any other states. I implore you to up your game and overturn this result at the next competition.”

The NTA National Children’s Arts, Science and Technology Expo, is an annual event that is aimed at discovering and developing creativity among young, talented and intelligent students.

No fewer than 28 states across the federation contested in Arts/Crafts, Science and Technology categories, which were segmented into two stages, comprising the preliminary/state finals and national finals.

The Lagos State team won a trophy, plaque, and cash award, among other prizes for their outstanding performance at the finals of the contest.

The annual competition, with this year’s theme: “Promoting Unity and Innovations in Youths as Agents of Change through Science and Arts,” is being organised by the National Television Authority (NTA) Channel 10, in collaboration with the state Ministries of Education for primary and secondary school students nationwide.

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Education

Bank chief to UI graduates: Define your core values

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Bank chief to UI graduates: Define your core values

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, has counseled graduating students of the University of Ibadan (UI) to define their core values and take responsibility for their lives.

This was as he said that many people have negative challenges in their personal and professional lives after their academic pursuits simply because they failed to define their core values.

Adeduntan, a graduate of Veterinary Medicine from the nation’s premier university and now a financial expert, expressed this during the university’s convocation lecture, entitled: “A Journey Defined – Empathy, Courage, Industry (Discipline).”

In order to carve a niche for themselves, the bank chief urged the graduating students to be conscious of their decisions as it concerns their career goals and be intentional about employment or entrepreneurial offers.

He stressed: “As the university graduates you into the world of great possibilities and uncertainties, I would like to entrust you with some life hacks that will enable you to navigate the world in your personal and professional lives. I have adopted these life hacks in my personal and professional endeavour, and in all modesty, I can say that I am a comfortable man.

“Creating value for yourselves and others requires that you be purposeful in life decisions, beginning from choosing a career to building networks and nurturing relationships. Take responsibility for your life by defining your core values, which at this point in your lives should be hard work, integrity, discipline and living an impactful life. Even in the smallest of tasks assigned to you, exhibiting these values will give you a recognition and fast-track the leadership quality in all positions.”

Adedutan, however, pointed out that to climb the ladder of success and widen the horizon for personal and professional growth, the new graduates needed to demonstrate high level of discipline, “because the foundation of every civilized and prosperous society is discipline.”

According to him, some people, however, failed to adhere to this.

He added: “Being responsive in your professional capacity, you will be in a better position to effectively lead and inspire others, as well as, be a more caring, compassionate companion in any relationship. Building empathy in yourself is then crucial if you wish to have a global career of learning and interacting with new culture.”

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, urged the graduates to go out and be worthy ambassadors and alumni of the university, noting that “your thirst for knowledge should remain undiluted because readers are leaders.”

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Education

FUOYE shines at NUTAF 2019, wins gold in drama

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FUOYE shines at NUTAF 2019, wins gold in drama

The management and students of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Ekiti State, are still savouring the institution’s performance at the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Festival (NUTAF), where they won gold in drama and bronze medal in drums respectively.

The university also won the best individual talents in directing, acting, costume and make-up.

The institution was represented at the festival, which took place at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, by a team of 25 students from the Department of Theatre and Media Arts (TMA), led by the Staff Adviser, Mr. Tayo Isijola.

The feat came barely two months after the department came third in the African Drum Festival in which the university was participating for the first time.

Other departments that have won laurels for the university include Mechatronics, Food technology and Agriculture in various contests.

Speaking about the festival, the Dean, Post Graduate Studies, Prof. Rasaki Ojo Bakare, said the maiden edition of the Nigerian Universities’ Theatre Arts Festival was hosted by the University of Ibadan (UI) in 1981 (about 40 years ago), which was organised by the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Students’ Association (NUTASA) under the supervision of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA), a body of Theatre Arts lecturers.

He noted: “The department registered for the festival in 2017, but could not participate. In 2018, we attended as observers, according to NUTAF regulation. This year the university team competed and we won many laurels. We won gold in the major event, including drama and came third in drums ensemble. In the individual talents category, out of six categories, we participated in four and won the Best Director, Make Up, Costume and Actor categories.

“The implication of this feat is that for the next one year, FUOYE will lead other 52 universities offering Theatre Arts in the country.”

Bakare, who recalled that the 25 students were selected from 100 Level to 400 Level, said they students because of the closure of the university were camped in Ado-Ekiti under the supervision and training of the Head of Department of Theatre Arts, Dr. Jonathan Mbachaga and the Staff Adviser, Tayo Isijola to prepare them for the contest. 

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Education

ANUPA workshop: VC advocates e-registry, less paperwork in varsity

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ANUPA workshop: VC advocates e-registry, less paperwork in varsity

Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun, has tasked the institution’s administrative staff on the need to embrace electronic registry (e-registry) towards ensuring prompt and efficient service delivery and less paperwork.

The Vice-Chancellor gave the advice while declaring open the workshop organised by the university’s chapter of the Association of Nigerian University Professional Administrators (ANUPA).

Ajibefun, who was represented at the event by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic, Prof. Francis Gbore, also advised the senior administrative staff to replicate themselves in their subordinates, saying: “I want to urge those of you who had acquired professional skills over the years to begin to replicate yourselves in your subordinates, while you too should also strive hard to update your skills in tandem with the 21st century method of engagement and working.”

He added: “In addition, I want to challenge ANUPA to think of e-registry at this workshop in order to key into the vision of making administrative staff to be 21st Century compliant. Again, I believe that achieving this will further enhance your service delivery.”

While commending ANUPA’s efforts in honing the skills of its members, the Vice-Chancellor said the initiative complemented the university’s regular training of staff members through various platforms within and outside the country.

However, several papers were presented at the workshop, which was attended by key stakeholders and participants.

In his paper, entitled: “Adherence to Professional Ethics Makes a University Administrator Par Excellence,” the Acting Registrar, Mr. Opeoluwa Akinfemiwa, charged the participants to exhibit discipline, good attitude to work, courage, honesty and loyalty at all times.

Also, a Deputy Registrar (Human Resources and Development) from the University of Ibadan, Mr. Ganiyu Saliu, in his lecture, entitled: “Structure and Governance of 21st Century University: The Registry in Perspective,” stressed that governance and administrative structure of universities must be clear and adequate, adding that a truly professional administrator must imbibe friendliness, fairness and firmness.

Ajibefun further noted: “At the management level, we will continue to give adequate attention to the training and retraining of our staff members such that they could be at par with their colleagues globally.”

He further reiterated the importance of administrators to the development of the university system, saying: “Without mincing words, the academics are often helpless and distracted, when they do not have competent, experienced or dependable administrators to manage the processes and functions beyond teaching in the classroom and conducting research in the laboratories.

“Universities need professionals to document their decisions, carry out the implementation of specific regulations, guide and take custody of specific institutional issues and responsibilities, implement policies and programmes, service meetings and represent the university in activities of less academic nature.”

In his remarks, the Chairman of the AAUA chapter of ANUPA, Mr. Razaq Owamoyo, thanked the university management for its support and the Planning Committee, headed by Mr. Tope Famuti for organizing a befitting workshop.

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Education

N-Power teachers can’t drive early childhood education – NUT

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N-Power teachers can’t drive early childhood education – NUT

The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has said that the N-Power scheme of the Federal Government is not the best contingency approach to delivering quality education, especially early child education.

NUT National President, Dr. Nasir Idris, disclosed this during a four-day workshop on “Learning Through Play for Early Childhood Education Teachers in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), organised by the Nigeria Union of Teachers in partnership with the Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators (BUPL).

Idris, who stressed the need of providing the child with an early foundation and formation in life, said there was the need to strengthen the capacity of early child educators to conform to international best practice for a holistic and functional development of the child.

The NUT President, who was represented by the 1st National Vice President of the union, Comrade Akosile Samuel, underscored the importance of providing the child with strong early foundation and formation in life.

He said: “The capacity of teachers to deliver cannot be achieved using contingency approach such as the N-Power scheme of the Federal Government, but a full-time employment of qualified, well-trained, competent and committed personnel in the education sector most especially as it affects the early child development component.”

Chairperson of Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators, Jonna Jul Gudyundsen, who expressed delight over the sustained interest of the NUT in early child development, however, noted that the Union’s 11-year partnership with BUPL had positively impacted on teachers and the school child development as learning through play is good for the child and the teachers.

“It is important to keep playing with the kids,” Ms Gudyundsen stated, adding that the workshop was a platform to share knowledge and experience between Denmark and Nigeria Teacher Union.

According to her, the participants would be exposed to new methodologies and ways to play with kids, which must be sustained activities in schools for children in their early stage of mental development.

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Education

NGO distributes school bags, textbooks to pupils in Ogun

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Non-Governmental Organisation, Clare Cares Foundation (CCF), has distributed school materials and furniture to pupils of Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Mission 1, Ayetoro in Ogun State as part of its back-to-school project.

The Chief Executive of the NGO, Claire Ezeakacha, while distributing the materials also announced the award of scholarship to one of the indigent pupils in the Senior Secondary School (SS) class, Rofiu Olaleye, who works as an apprentice vulcanizer after school and closes by 8.pm every day to support his education.

As part of measures to give back to the community, the organisation distributed about 400 exercise books, 100 story books from Naniboi, Bible cards and stationeries, as well as clothes, water bottles, school bags, text books, workbooks, learning calendars to the pupils.

Besides, the organisation also painted some classrooms in the school to give the classes a facelift in order to make them more attractive to the pupils.

Speaking at the event, Mrs. Ezeakacha said the organisation also provided Olaleye with uniforms and bought him all the school materials needed to make his education worthwhile.

According to Ezeakacha, the NGO, her pet project, was set up to assist children in the rural communities to have unfettered access to qualitative education, irrespective of their parents’ socio-economic background.

This was as she expressed her organisation’s readiness to help Olaleye to further his education.

In his remarks, one of the teachers in the school, Mr. Bright Kemasuode, expressed gratitude to the organisation for donating the items to the schools and for awarding scholarship to the pupil.

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