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Education

Out-of-school children: Herdsmen attacks raise fresh fear

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  • ASUU: Govt has no reliable strategic plan for education

 

 

The quest of children in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states for education seems to be threatened following the incessant Fulani herdsmen attacks on some communities in the states, which have forced many schools to close down

 

The fate of over 10,000 primary and secondary school pupils and students in Nasarawa, Benue and Taraba States to acquire qualitative education like their counterparts in other states of the federation seems to be threatened. No thanks to the incessant attacks by the Fulani herdsmen that have continue to ravage the states, leaving many people dead and several communities destroyed.

The students and their parents, who are now taking refuge at various Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, were said to have deserted their communities for fear of being mowed down by the armed herdsmen.

The most affected communities in Benue and Nasarawa States are Tiv communities of Awe, Keana and Doma Local Government Areas, where over 7,000 children in both primary and secondary schools have been forced out of school. Following the displacement, schools in the areas have since been abandoned by the teachers and students, while some of the school premises have been converted to IDP camps. Investigations by New Telegraph indicated that over 4,000 school children affected mostly in Tiv communities were forced out of school as a result of the crisis that rocked the communities in Keana and Doma Local Government Areas alone.

This unfortunate incident, ac-cording to stakeholders, is coming at a time when the country is reportedly winning the battle against the out-ofschool- children with the figure currently standing at 8.6 million instead of the 10.5 million it was between 2015 and 2017.

Lamenting their ordeal, some of the parents, who spoke to New Telegraph during the visit to some of the IDPs camps located at Awe, Keana and Kadarko, lamented how the attacks have forced their children out of school.

They, however, called on both the state and Federal Government to rescue the situation by providing adequate security in their communities so that they could return home to enable their children go back to schools. Already, about 285,000 children in Taraba State, according to the Commissioner for Education, Mr. Johanes Jigem, were currently out-of-school. But with the crisis of the herdsmen attacks on some communities in the state, the figure would have risen astronomically.

Jigem, who gave the statistic in Jalingo at the flag-off of the State Education Programme Investment Project-Additional Financing, which is a World Bank assisted programme for schools in the north east, also added that the state government had established additional 65 Government Day Junior Secondary Schools across the state to absorb the out-of-schoolchildren. Some of the school children, who spoke with New Telegraph, also expressed dismay over their predicament and appealed to the state and Federal Government to secure their lives and return them to schools.

The Education Secretary (ES) for Awe Local Government Area in Nasarawa State, Mr. Sale Abubakar Kenje confirmed to New Telegraph that about 3,000 primary school pupils in the local government have been forced out of school as a result of the herdsmen/ farmers conflict. Kenje noted that the location of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in some pubic primary schools in the areas would not hinder academic activities in the schools. In his reaction, the Registrar/ Chief Executive Officer of the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Olusegun Ajiboye said; “It is true that the herdsmen attacks is a fresh challenge to the war towards sustaining the reduction in the figure of the out-of-school-children, especially in the northern part of the country, but I can assure Nigerians that the government is leaving no stone unturned to arrest the situation.”

He said in the past few weeks, government has doubled efforts to permanently tackle the insecurity issues in the country, adding that; “I can tell you that so many initiatives of the new administration is yielding good results.” Ajiboye further explained; “Let’s begin with the Shangai education system; the increasing tempo of the Almajiri education system, the school feeding project, and the depletion of the Boko Haram insurgency; all these combined have actually reduced the number of out-of-school children from 10.5 million to 8.6 million. “Also, since more teachers are getting professionalised, the more they are committed.

This is because the teacher factor is very crucial not just to the enrolment of the children in schools, but also their retention. If a teacher is not competent and is working without adequate incentives, you can be sure of the poor attitude of such teacher to work. But, because of the improved profesionalisation, more teachers are beginning to be committed to teaching, even in the rural areas.” Meanwhile, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi described the situation in the states as antithetical to education development.

He said: “Forget all the statistics being bandied around; they are fake and are meant to placate the people, especially at a time the general elections are around the corner. The reality does not support the reduction in the number of out-of-schoolchildren. “And if you ask me, I will tell you we cannot have less than 15 million Nigerian children out of school.

All the indices support these facts; even outside the Northern region, where the herdsmen or the Boko Haram are sending the people out of school in droves, the South- West has also degenerated to the region of school dropouts.

“Today, the southwest states that used to pride themselves as the home of free education now have many of schoolaged children hawking during school hours. This is simply because the developmental fees introduced in the schools are not affordable to the people and teachers’ salaries are not paid as at when due.

“Therefore, the phenomenon of out-of-school-children is a reflection of the general crisis in the country. This is a country without adequate planning for the people, be they young or old. And because of that, we are governed by the rules of the tongue. You see, unlike in the early ‘60s when we used to have developmental plans, now what we have is what they call strategic plans and they only put some statistics together to placate the people.” Ogunyemi, however, wondered that today, government at all levels merely roll out plans that do not match the philosophies and goals of the nation.

“If we look at Chapter 2, Section 18 of the Constitution, we would notice the objectives of the country’s education, but these objectives have been neglected by the government due largely to the influence of the imperialist, whose interests is mainly to advance their selfish interest,” the ASUU leader explained.

However, with the deployment of the men of the Nigerian Army and Police to the troubled states, some stakeholders have expressed optimism that there is hope that normalcy would soon return to the states’ education system.

This was as the Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) disclosed that it had registered about 80,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across four camps located in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas of the state.

The Executive Secretary of the agency, Mr. Emmanuel Shior, had said that the agency arrived at the figure during its manual registration of the IDPs in the two local government areas. The IDPs were at the government approved camps at Daudu, Tse-Ginde, Gbajimba all in Guma and Ugba in Logo local councils.

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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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Education

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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