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Furore over WAEC’s new examination diet

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DISAGREEMENT
Less than one week that the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) unfolded plans to introduce a new diet for external candidates, key stakeholders have faulted the move, kicking that it would not see the light of the day
 
While Nigerian students and their parents are yet to recover from the confusion generated by this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) registration, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), last week, introduced a new diet in its examinations, which has continued to generate debate among stakeholders.
With the new diet, expected to take off next year between January and February, students will now have the opportunity to sit for the school candidate (May/June) Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) and the private candidate (Nov/Dec) SSCE, otherwise referred to as GCE O’Level, and the new diet for external candidates.
Rising from its 65th Annual Council Meeting hosted by Nigeria in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), between March 20 and 24, 2017, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), among other decisions, approved for its national offices across the five-member countries, the conduct of additional diet of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for private candidates.
According to the examination body, the reason for the new diet is not unconnected with “the growing concern among stakeholders over what they perceive as discrimination or denial of equal opportunity against private candidates.”
It added that the wave of agitation, criticism and appeal across the sub-region for the Council to find a way of addressing the agony of ‘long waiting’ being experienced by the private candidates, who desire another attempt at WASSCE, propelled the decision to introduce the diet.
As part of efforts to sensitise the public ahead of the commencement of the new diet, the WAEC Registrar, Dr. Uyi Uwadiae, while addressing journalists last Thursday, expressed Nigeria’s readiness to blaze the trail.
He said: “I must be quick to point out that though, the Council has given the nod, the conduct of the additional diet may not take off in all the member countries immediately or at the same time. But let me assure stakeholders in Nigeria that the Nigeria National Office has indicated the willingness and readiness to blaze the trail by making the examination available to Nigerians in 2018.”
Uwadiae added that the details of the examination, including the scheduled dates, available subjects and location of centres, among others, would be provided by the Head of Nigeria’s National Office at the appropriate time.
However, this is coming at a time, when WAEC is complaining of decline in the enrolment of private candidates for its examination, with stakeholders blaming the situation on the introduction of the National Examination Council (NECO) by former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar in April 1999, as the first federal organisation to offer subsidised registration to candidates in the country.
This was even as some members of the Governing Board of WAEC, who spoke exclusively to New Telegraph on the condition of anonymity, expressed doubt about the feasibility of the new diet.
They claimed that they had kicked against the idea when it was tabled at the last Council meeting for approval, but that “like a dog doomed to go astray, its ears would be deaf to hunters’ whistle.”
According to them, it would not be right to openly condemn a decision jointly taken at the Council, but it is obvious that the new diet was dead on arrival.
One of them said: “Why introducing new diet in the face of reduction in enrolment for private candidates? And the argument of preferential treatment for school candidates does not fly because each examination had been holding once in a year.
“There are so many things that are wrong with the system. When you look at the number of subjects the candidates are sitting now, they are about 70. That is for what? Ghana that we are emulating is already adjusting that? We need to look inward and address all these issues.”
In their reactions to the development, other major stakeholders in the nation’s basic and secondary education sub-sector, including the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), and the National Association of Parent Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) expressed strong opposition to it, saying WAEC is fond of imposing its decisions on the country without carrying along relevant stakeholders.
They claimed the new diet would destabilise the schools’ academic activities and calendar, even as they called on authorities to order the stoppage of its implementation.
The National President of NUT, Comrade Michael Olukoya-Alogba, said the union was not carried along in the decision, and that as a body of teachers, who would eventually implement WAEC’s decision, it was not right for anyone to merely make pronouncement without prior consultation.
Olukoya-Alogba said: “Let all stakeholders be carried along and the issues discussed before pronouncement.”
But, while echoing NUT’s position, his ASUSS counterpart in Lagos State, Mr. Kasim Labaika, however, berated WAEC for what he described as the examination body’s selfishness and greed, saying even the adjustment in the timing of its school candidate diet, which he said now commences in March instead of May, has affected the school calendar, as most schools no longer complete the syllabus before going into examination.
According to Labaika, teachers are usually not considered when authorities make education policies in this country, and that is part of the major challenges facing the sector.
He said: “How do you defend the introduction of another diet, either for school or private candidates? It would definitely destabilise the school calendar because rather than harmonising their activities, each examination body in Nigeria conducts their affairs as if they are independent and exclusive.
“For instance, the NECO and WAEC syllabuses for Literature-in-English and Yoruba are different and there are no different times to study them. How do you expect a single teacher to teach about 17 literature text books and the students would comprehend? Now, with the addition of new diet, same school halls will be used, same teachers would invigilate and mark. How would that not affect the school calendar? They are deceiving themselves and it should not be allowed to stand.”
Meanwhile, the National President of NAPTAN, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, has said his association would next week meet with the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, over the development, adding that it was already scheduled for discussion at the PTA NEC meeting scheduled to hold on April 26.
According to Danjuma, the new diet, was a clear indication that WAEC is only out to make money and not for the success of the candidates, accusing the regional examination body of attempting to frustrate NECO out of the business of examination conduct.
“We were surprised when we read about it some days ago. Even the existing examinations have in one way or the other affected the quality of preparation of candidates, and now a new diet was being added. Does WAEC exist in a vacuum? Why is this arrogance that it would only pronounce something as if there were no relevant stakeholders in this country? Is it an attempt to kill NECO? This won’t stand,” Danjuma noted.
But reacting to the development, the Director of Special Duties at NECO, Dr. John Tumba, refuted the claim that the new diet introduced by WAEC would ‘kill’ NECO examinations, saying such belief was not only erroneous, but also unfounded.
According to Tumba, both WAEC and NECO have co-existed for some years without any rancour, and that the latest development should not be viewed as an affront on NECO.
He said: “Whether it would lead to low enrolment for NECO examinations cannot be substantiated or confirmed now, and so we need to wait till then. If it does then, we will address it. NECO is a creation of an Act of parliament and so it cannot be ‘killed’ just by the introduction of an examination by WAEC.”
However, to WAEC, all issues raised by the opponents had been factored in before reaching its conclusion on the new diet, and that the adjustment in the schedule of the school-based examination was beyond it.
According to Uwadiae, the introduction of NECO had necessitated the readjustment, and that the claim of non-completion of syllabuses by the schools due to the situation was an issue that could not be single-handedly handled by WAEC.  

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Education

Bello grants scholarship to Best Graduating student from Law School

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Ms. Fatima Bombom Sani, the best graduating student at the 2015 Call to Bar examination of the Nigerian Law School, has been granted academic scholarship to the tune of $93,000  by the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

This was made known at the award ceremony at Government House Kogi State over the weekend when the governor received Ms. Fatima Sani, her relatives, alongside Bar. Natasha Akpoti.  In his speech, the governor lamented a situation where academic excellence has not been given the requisite reward in Nigeria.

“The case of Fatima Sani reminds me of how academic excellence has not been adequately rewarded in Nigeria. Imagine someone that bagged nine separate awards including “Best Student of the Year and Council of Education Star Award, and nothing was done for her since 2015.”

The governor also thanked Barr. Natasha Hadiza Akpoti for taking up the case of Fatima Sani by starting an awareness campaign about her academic feat. “I thank Barr. Natasha Akpoti for this if not we won’t all be gathered here.

It was Bar. Natasha Akpoti, who sought the intervention of the Kogi State Governor who was not only surprised but disappointed that Fatima was left unsupported while no information was brought to his office concerning her case.

“I heard about your exceptional performance at the Nigerian Law School in 2015 and assumed you were recognized and sponsored by the administration of the day. It’s unacceptable that such brilliance is not celebrated and promoted. Nevertheless, now that your genuine self is before me, I shall grant you a personal scholarship to celebrate your exceptionality and help your career-defining goals.”

Governor Yahaya Bello stated that after some inquiries and validation of Fatima’s credentials, he in his capacity declared a full scholarship for Fatima to study Masters in Finance Law at the Colombian Law School, in the United States of America.

Gov. Bello thanked Natasha Akpoti for her humanitarian efforts in bringing Fatima’s issue while urging Fatima to uphold her academic excellence and make Nigeria proud and return home to serve her fatherland.

Barr. Natasha Akpoti in her remark thanked the Governor for his benevolence and penchant for promoting academic excellence. “We must celebrate heroes like Fatima in other to motivate young people especially girls towards exceptional educational performances.” She equally advised Fatima to go for her studies and come back to contribute her quota to the development of Kogi state and Nigeria while being a source of inspiration to others.

It would be recalled that Barr. Natasha Akpoti had on the 27th of April 2018 via her Facebook page, advocated for sponsorship to help Fatima further her academic dreams having emerged as the best graduating student at the 2015 Bar exam where she bagged nine separate awards including “Best Student of the Year and Council of Education Star Award.

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AAUA: Mass withdrawal of students looms over fee hike

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  • Visitation panel report: Stakeholders chide govt over delay
  • We’ve handed over report to councils – Commissioner

 

WITHDRAWAL
Some indigent students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) are said to be prepared to withdraw from the institution as they are yet to make headway in their efforts to raise their new school fees

 

 

These are challenging times for indigent students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) and their parents, as many of them are allegedly set to withdraw from the institution due to the astronomical hike in fees.

Following the hike in fees, which was jerked up from between N30,000 to N35,000, to between N80,000 to N150,000 by the management, some students have allegedly shunned the ongoing registration, which is billed to end on Saturday, May 26.

For instance, Richard Olaosebikan, a 300-Level undergraduate of the Department of Political Science, said he was yet to pay the new school fees, as he still struggling to meet up.

He said: “Paying new fees has been difficult for me because things are very hard. I have struggled to make part-payment and I hope I could meet up to pay the rest before the close of portal on Saturday. I am speaking to some people who could help me and I pray they respond before then. I am presently in school to see what I can do and I hope that I will meet up.”

Also, Olaosebikan’s friend, Success Ibitoye, a 400-Level student of the Faculty of Agriculture, New Telegraph gathered, might be forced to drop out of the university if he receives no assistance before Saturday.

According to his friend, Ibitoye is yet to pay a kobo from his school fees which is about N150,000 and to worsen his situation, he does not have any hope of doing so any moment from now simply because of his parents’ background and the harsh economy downturn in the country.

Expressing his predicament, a parent has revealed that contrary to the acclaimed N150,000 fees for the Faculty of Law students, he said he eventually paid N200,000 when departmental fees, and other sundry levies were added.

According to the parent, out of 35 fresh Law students admitted by the university, who are currently undergoing their registration, as at Friday, May 18, only about 15 students were yet to pay their fees, suggesting that they might lose their admission.

But, the spokesman for the university, Mr. Sola Imoru, who said he was not aware of such development, however, noted that the university had since inaugurated the Students’ Support Service to address the challenges of such students that are genuine.

Such students with genuine complaints are expected to visit the Students’ Support Service purposely established by the management for such complaints,” Imoru said, insisting that those alleged to have withdrawn did so out of sheer ignorance.

According to him, the university last week organized an orientation session for the fresh students, where the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun, addressed them on this issue, among others.

Again, the Chairman of the university’s Council, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, who also claimed ignorance of the withdrawal of students, hinted that if such case would arise at all, it would be very low. He said the management would look into it with a view to assisting such students.

Also commenting, the Chairman of the institution’s chapter of the Senior Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Mr. Tope Famuti said there was yet to be any information to that effect, saying though the fees were increased based on faculty or department, it was not enough for students to withdraw.

According to him, the students were paying about N35,000 before it was increased to between N80,000 and N150,000, but they have the opportunity to pay more than once.
“To the best of my knowledge I don’t have such information as a stakeholder and I am a worker here,” he stressed.
However, his Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) counterpart, Dr. Sola Fayose said it was too hasty to draw such conclusion that some students of the university were withdrawing for their inability to pay the new fees regime.
“For now, we can’t say precisely as the students are still undergoing their registration. Such withdrawal could only be firmly established after their registration and during examination, when we will be able to discover whether some students are no longer in the class.

“Until after registration and examination we cannot determine whether some students have withdrawn or not,” Fayose said.
Meanwhile, major stakeholders in Ondo State education sector have condemned the state government-led by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for its perceived delay in releasing the reports of the Visitation Panel constituted for higher institutions in the state.

They expressed worry that the reports might have been swept under the carpet by the governor, almost four months after the Panel submitted it to the government
Governor Akeredolu, who is the Visitor to the institutions, had on November 21, 2017, inaugurated the Visitation Panel to all the four state-owned tertiary institutions, including the Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH), Okitipupa; the University of Medical Sciences (UNIMED), Ondo; Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo (RUGIPO); and the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA).

The visitation panel to the Ondo State University of Science and Technology was chaired by Prof. Olumide Tewe, while the University of Medical Sciences panel was chaired Prof. Ayo Arowojolu and Rufus Giwa Polytechnic by Prof. Sunday Adewale; and Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, was chaired by Dr. Goke Adegoroye.

Meanwhile, several memoranda in form of reports, petitions and appeals were received from the public, student unions, members of the various university communities, as well as other stakeholders and workers’ unions including ASUU, SSANU, NASU, and the National Association of Academic Technicians (NAAT).

The panel, among other terms of reference was to recommend measures and actions to reposition the institutions for optimal performance, examine the financial management of all the tertiary institutions and determine their compliance with appropriate regulations; examine the financial management of the university including subventions, grants, loans and internally generated revenue and determine their compliance with appropriate regulations; examine adequacy of staff and staff development programmes of the university.

The panel, which reports the governor said would reposition the institutions, was also to examine industrial relations among management, staff and students and recommend ways to achieving lasting peace and harmony; examine the state landed properties and other assets of the university; and recommend measures and actions to reposition the university for optimal performance.

It’s believed that issues ranging from repositioning of the various institutions, miss-governance, financial challenges, over-bloated employment, among others, will be considered by the panels.

Other expected recommendations are issues concerning cooperative societies’ deductions, school fees and student welfare; staff issues such as wrongful termination of appointments, withheld promotions, victimization, and administrative issues.

Other critical areas the panel was expected to cover include subventions to the university and their spending, award of contracts, inflation of contracts, financial recklessness, incompetency and moral ineptitude in the system.

With the submission of the report since Friday, January 26, this year, the stakeholders expressed regret over the delay in the release.
But, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yemi Olowolabi, who exonerated the government from the delay in implementing the panel’s report, however, told New Telegraph that the governor, after presentation of the report to the State Executive Council, had immediately transmitted same to the Governing Council of the respective institutions on their inauguration.

“There is autonomy of the institutions and what the government did was to transmit the report to the council of the respective higher institutions on their inauguration for implementation. So, it will be wrong to blame the state government for the delay in implementing the report,” the Commissioner said.
But, contrary to the state government’s claim that the report had been handed over to the Governing Councils of the different institutions, Dr. Abayomi, in a phone call, denied ever receiving such report from the state government.

He, however said the document may have been handed over to the Vice-Chancellor, who he noted is yet brief him.
“I am not aware of such report. I still spoke with the Vice-Chancellor today (Sunday) and I don’t know if he had received such. But, it has not come to my notice. I will see him (Vice-Chancellor) on Thursday this week, maybe he is holding the report till then,” Abayomi said.

Also, the university’s spokesman denied any knowledge of such document, whether or not such had been handed over to the Council or the management.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of ASUU, Dr. Fayose, described the governor’s delay in making the panel’s report public as a disservice to the collective development of the institutions.
“Since the report was submitted in January 26, this year, we have been awaiting the White Paper, that will usher in its implementation but this has not been done,” he said, the government has not done things properly.

“If the inauguration of the panel and presentation of the report were made public, the state government should also make public the handing over as claimed by the same government to the councils so that we will know those to hold accountable. But, as it is now we find it is difficult to believe the government.”

Also, the Chairman of SSANU, Famuti, who echoed the position of ASUU, wondered while government had not released the report or made it public.

He said; “There is no gain-saying that public funds have been expended on the various panels which comprise of men and women of integrity, who not only sacrificed their time and energy, but also their experience from various fields to put the report that would give a better direction to our tertiary institutions in the state under the carpet.”

 

 

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Education

FCT students shine at Korea, FG art competition

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No fewer than 30 primary schools across the six Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja participated in the ninth Drawing competition, jointly organised by the Federal Government and South Korea.

The competition was instituted in 2010 to mark the diplomatic ties between South Korea and Nigerian governments.
This year’s edition of the competition, which had as theme: “Peace and Conflict Resolution,” showcased a total collection of 150 artworks from students in the FCT.

According to the Director, Korea Cultural Centre Nigeria (KCCN), Mr. Han Sungrae, the essence of the competition was to help children to benefit from the positive effects that arts, especially drawing, could have on children at the formative age, and also to further strengthen the existing relationship and mutual understanding between Nigeria and Korea.

“We recognise how important peace is and that is why we have encouraged these young ones to bear out their minds on what they envision peace to be. In doing so, they have expressed their imaginations, creativity, inventiveness, innovation and cultural awareness,” he said.

The Chairman of FCT Universal Basic Education Board, Dr. Kabir Matazu, noted that the various competitions organised by the KCCN for students and teachers in the FCT in the last nine years, was a proof that exposing children to acquisition of skills was the right step to take.

Matazu, who was represented by a Director in the Board, Dr. Hassan Suleiman, assured the organisers of the Board’s continued support to enhance the competition in every possible way.

“It is a wonderful development because the pupils were able to pick in practical terms the theme of this competition, “Peace” by bringing out different artworks portraying peace.

“There are series of conflicts across the world; even in this country there is no day that would pass without conflict in one part or the other.
They are trying to preach that we need to imbibe peace instead of engaging in conflicts. If at their level the children are preaching to the people to embrace peace, I think it is a welcome development,” he said.

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