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2022: After one calender year, basic, secondary education still in shambles



By Sodiq Adelakun

Nigeria’s education sector has undergone a lot of reforms and advancement. Number of primary, secondary and tertiary academic institutions has grown exponentially. Especially with the privatisation policy which enabled individuals and corporate bodies to establish schools, the quality of education leaves much to be desired.

However, the challenges facing education sectors in the Country are many. They range from poor infrastructure to industrial unrest, cultism, exam malpractices,corruption, maladministration, among others.

Nigeria’s public education sector is insensible while the private sector is also tottering.

It was gathered that there is no adequate staffing of the public schools in Nigeria from primary to tertiary level.

According to an academic, Jide Ojo,“There are many schools that depend on youth corps members to bridge the staffing gap. Yet, many of these corps members are not trained teachers and are only on the ground for one year of their service.

“Even in some cases where the Parent Teacher Association of the schools has offered to augment the teaching staff, there is no much commitment from the temporary staff due to their poor conditions of service.”

The latest data of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) says the current number of out of school children in the Country is 20 million.

UNESCO, which says a new and improved methodology was used to arrive at the latest figures, said there are “244 million children and youth between the ages of 6 and 18 worldwide (who) are still out of school, with India, Nigeria and Pakistan having the highest figures of out-of-school children globally.”

Poverty, lack of schools, insecurity and tradition, among others, are the major factors pushing many children out of school.

Daily, during school hours, many underage children who are supposed to be in school, are seen in traffic selling sachet water and assorted drinks; in mechanic workshops and markets learning trade. Some beg for alms in between traffic, others carry loads for a fee in markets, while many are on the streets looking haggard, with some at bus stops ready to snatch bags from commuters.

In the North-East of Nigeria, only 41 per cent of eligible girls receive primary education. The figure is 47 per cent in the North-West. Social attitudes also impact negatively education rates, especially in northern Nigeria.

In North-eastern and North-western states, 29 per cent and 35 per cent of muslim children, respectively, attend Qur’anic schools, which do not include basic education skills, such as literacy and numeracy. These children are officially considered out of school by the government.

According to UBEC data, 37.82 per cent of primary school teachers are unqualified. The highest documented percentage of unqualified teachers at primary education level was in the Northwest (42.52 per cent), Southeast (41.82 per cent), and South-south (38.83 per cent). North-central Nigeria had the most percentage of qualified teachers at primary education level.

Some of the teachers are themselves also not competent. Not everyone is gifted to impart knowledge and as such mere recruitment of teachers is not enough, but the competence of those being deployed to teach in our schools.

In junior secondary education, the figure corresponds to 24 per cent of unqualified faculty. Most of the unqualified teachers were in the South-south (29.23 per cent), Northwest (24.76 per cent), and Southwest (23.72 percent). With this percentage of unqualified teachers at primary and junior secondary education levels in Nigeria, one can only imagine the quality of essential education received in the country. Not to mention, the dismal teacher to learner ratio in the country.

According to UBEC, the teacher-learner ratio for Nigeria at ECCDE level is 1:630. Although the ratio is lower at primary school and junior secondary levels, it is still poor. Teacher-learner ratio at primary school level in Nigeria is 1:72; at junior secondary school level, it is 1:42.

According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Nigeria has 18.5 million out-of-school children, the highest number in the world and out of the figure, 10 million are girls.

The Chief of UNICEF Field Office in Kano, Rahama Farah, stated this at a media dialogue on Girls’ Education under the Girls’ Education Project 3, GEP three funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, FCDO and implemented by UNICEF. For those lucky to be in school, their condition is also not enviable given the situation of public schools in the country.

Only recently, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) said 50 per cent of schools in Nigeria lack basic furniture.

On May, 2022, the National President of the National Association of Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria, (NAPTAN), Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, decried the manner some State Governments are implementing the Basic Education Policy of the government whereby pupils and students in primary and junior secondary schools are to enjoy free education and are given textbooks in some core subjects.

“Some States are not doing well in that respect. They have abandoned the programme. They are not funding education as it ought to be funded. Even counterpart funds that some states should put down to complement the funds from UBEC are not provided. Some states have even misused UBEC funds and are suspended from getting further grants.

“We are talking now about our tertiary institutions that are grounded by workers’ strikes, the basic education level, which is the foundation, is not faring better too. Something urgent must be done to redress the situation before the sector collapses finally,” he noted.

Recently, history was added basic education curriculum after 13 years.

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, lamented the about his inability to provide solutions to the numerous challenges facing his sector, can actually claim this moment as a worthy achievement.

Lack of adequate welfare of both teaching and non-teaching staff in educational institutions have also impacted negatively on their productivity.

Some States are owing teachers’ salaries and allowances. As I write this, the Academic Staff Union of Universities has been on strike over the non-implementation of the union’s agreement reached with the Federal Government since 2009 as well as the attempt by the government to force them to enrol on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System. This industrial unrest is impacting negatively on the smooth operation of Nigeria’s public universities.

Exam malpractices have been a worrisome development in our academia. Some students engage other people called ‘mercenaries’ to write external exams such as West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination as well as National Examination Council examination for them.

In order to considerably reduce these incidences, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has had to insist that all its approved Computer-Based Test(CBT) centres for its Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination should have Closed Circuit Television cameras. Despite that, JAMB in December 2019 accused some of the CBT centres of fiddling with the CCTV cameras in order to aid examination malpractices.

Hooliganism and cultism are another twin cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of students of secondary and tertiary institutions in Nigeria. This is more rampant in public academic institutions. Hooliganism is often on display during secondary school sports fiestas such as Inter-House Sports and inter-school sports competitions. Cult clashes in our universities, polytechnics and colleges of education are also rampant.

Though cultism has been banned on campus, many of the groups defy the ban to clash with rival groups leaving in their trail sorrows, tears and blood and leaving the school community in palpable fear.

Corruption allegations are very rife in our academic institutions These are usually perpetrated by the leadership of the schools namely Headmasters, Principals, Provosts, Rectors or Vice Chancellors. Some of them impose illegal levies on their pupils and students. Even the government grants to the schools are sometimes mismanaged.

The 2017 Auditor General of the Federation report fingered many Vice Chancellors of corrupt practices as many of them failed to remit the 25 per cent of their internally generated revenue to government’s coffers.

Recall that the recent crisis that led to the removal of the immediate past Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos bordered on alleged corruption and maladministration.

By far the greatest challenge facing our education sector in Nigeria is the lack of adequate infrastructure. Many of the school buildings are dilapidated while the school environments are in deplorable conditions.

According to 2022 reports, many schools do not have good laboratories, libraries, classrooms or lecture theatres. Where they exist, they are overstretched due to the exponential increase in the students’ population.

Although the Federal Government has set up the Universal Basic Education Commission as well as Tertiary Education Trust Fund as interventionist agencies to support the grossly inadequate budgetary allocations to the education sector, these agencies have not been able to provide enough financial succour to the numerous schools needing their support.

In November 30, 2022, the Education Minister Adamu Adamu announced a government plan to abolish instruction in English on primary schools in favour of Nigeria’s local languages.

Presently, Nigeria is burdened with the highest population of out of school children in the world with most of those children residing in the North. To be a graduate in Nigeria, one would have to go through primary education, secondary education and tertiary education.

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UNLOCK: FG to increase grant winners, support businesses with registration



As the ongoing UNLOCK Training Programme enters its final and crucial phase, participants on Monday got surprise boosters from the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Education (SSAP-TVEE), Madam Abiola  Arogundade, as she announced a decision to increase the number of grant winners and a promise of assistance in business registration.

Earlier on Friday, the fourth day of the programme, participants were also thrilled by the news that trainees of Vocational and Skills Acquisition Centres are included in the Students Loan Bill recently signed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to enable them obtain loans for the duration of their programmes.

In her remarks during the question-and-answer session on Monday, the Day 5 of the training, Arogundade said her Office (OSSAP-TVEE) would assist participants, especially start-ups, to process the registration of their new companies after the training. She added, however, that the assistance would be for only those who do not win the grant while grant winners would be expected to process theirs with part of their grants.

And welcoming the participants to the second week of the programme  at the end of the day’s training session, the SSAP-TVEE, who  expressed delight at their continued enthusiasm, announced, “I want to encourage you to continue to come for every single class, to start with your Business Plans. We have decided to include more people than we decided in the beginning for the grant; and so I want to encourage you to give us a reason for giving you the grant.”

Highlights of Monday’s training session included the assumption of the training function by a new facilitator, Mr. John Eyok, who took over from Bukola Mayie and the visit of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and MSMES, Hon. Tola Johnson, who exhorted the participants on the importance of the training they are currently undertaking.

On Friday last week, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Students Loans and Tertiary Education, Hon. Adegboyega Nasir Isiaka, who gave the news of the Students Loans Bill during a brief visit at the programme, explained that Section 2 of the Act clearly states that vocational trainees would henceforth be beneficiaries of the Students Loans.

According to the Committee Chairman, the Act provides that fees and maintenance cost of students of tertiary and skill acquisition centres would be entitled to some amounts of money for school fees and maintenance throughout the duration of their programmes.

“What that means is that if you are in any particular skills acquisition training institution that meets the requirements of the Board and Management of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND), you can benefit from the facility,” the Chairman said.

Explaining that the details of the Bill are being worked out in terms of how much each category of beneficiaries would be entitled to, the Chairman told the participants, “In broad terms, it means that you have to do more of these activities; because anyone that wants to acquire one skill or the other will now no longer be deterred by funding required to do that.”

No less than 105 participants physically attended the training on Friday and Monday, Days 4 and 5 of the programme, while the number of online participants continued to soar with over 5,000 actively participating from more than 18 states of the Federation. The training enters its final stages this week as  Mr. John Eyok takes over from Bukola Mayie.

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Unibadan students condemn 750% fee increase for fresh students



By Sodiq Adelakun

The proposed 750% fee hike for newly admitted students at the University of Ibadan has sparked outrage among the student body, prompting a swift response from the Student’s Union leadership.

In a joint statement issued by Samuel Tobiloba, President of the University Students Union, and Olaniyi Dolapo, General Secretary, a meeting with the university management has been requested to address the sudden fee adjustments.

The Student Union expressed shock upon learning of the fee increments when the university portal was opened.

The fees displayed on the portal reportedly range from N133,500 to N372,500, with additional utility and technology levies of N20,000 each expected from every student.

The statement issued by the Union underscores the concern and dissatisfaction felt by students regarding the arbitrary fee hike, highlighting the potential financial burden it imposes on newly admitted students.

According to the statement, “In a bid to clarify these, we reached out to the university management and it was confirmed that the opening of the portal was a demo process in preparation for the commencement of payment and registration processes and there was a plan for the increment of fees ranging from N133,500 to N238,500 aside the utility and technology levies (N80,000 in total).

“We note with concern that this increment represents about 450%-750% of the previous bundle fee which ranged from about N20,000 – N30,000.

“This is coming at a period when several students are finding it hard to cope with the current fees regime, and increased costs of living in the country.

“The union condemns this increment in strong terms, and requests that this proposed increment be reverted to the status quo.

“We are equally requesting a meeting with the university management towards resolving this issue,” the statement added.

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ASUU, ATBU bicker over violation of VC appointment process



Rauf Oyewole, Bauchi

The Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Branch, Bauchi has faulted the University management for violating the varsity’s law guiding the appointment of a new vice chancellor and “illegally” allowing some principal officers stay in office on acting capacity beyond six months.

The ASUU-ATBU Chairperson, Dr. Ibrahim Inuwa, while speaking during a press conference at the Union’s Secretariat on Monday said that the Acting Registrar who is the custodian of the University law has engaged in “illegality” by advertising the position of VC while he (registrar) is illegally occupying office.

He said, “The advertisement of the vacancy for the post of Vice Chancellor in ATBU Bauchi (Internal and External Advertisement) published on Sunday January 13th, 2024 has got tongues wagging within and outside the University Community due to the absence of the University Council. The Union rejects this illegality because it runs counter to any relevant law governing the University.

“The Union is worried with the misapplication of the provisions of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1993 as amended. The provisions of the Act never vested the powers of the advertisement of vacancy for the post of Vice Chancellor with the Hon. Minister of Education nor with the Registrar of the University.”

According to Inuwa, “There are no circumstances whatsoever in neither the spirit nor the letters of all the University Laws where anybody else rather than the Council, is given the powers to appoint a substantive Vice Chancellor. However, in an abnormal situation, the Law allows the University Senate to appoint an acting Vice Chancellor to hold the office for a maximum period of six months. This position is clearly spelt out in Chapter 16 Subsection A (b) xi-xii of the ATBU Conditions of Service.”

He said that ASUU ATBU found the move disturbing and unbecoming of the Management of the University using the absence of the Council to “perpetuate illegality even in the face of unambiguous provisions of the Laws.”

“This attitude of abusing the University Laws by the University Management has gradually become a norm. For example, the University Management in disregard to all extant Laws and the University Council’s directives that all Principal Officers’ who are in acting capacity should not exceed six months in that capacity and should be replaced by the next most senior officer in the unit if the vacancy is not yet properly filled.

“Nonetheless, the University Management violated this directive by allowing the current acting Registrar and other officers to be holding office for more than one year and counting. The Registrar, who is the supposed Custodian of the University Laws is unfortunately accommodating illegality,” he said.

The Union called on the Minister of Education and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who are the supervisory Minister and the Visitor to the University respectively to earnestly and accordingly use their noble offices to protect what remains of the sanctity of Public Universities in Nigeria by immediately halting the illegally started process of appointment of a Vice Chancellor for the University and ensure that Governing Councils of Universities are restored immediately to ensure that the Universities run according to the Laws of the land.

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the University, Zailani Bappa dismissed the lecturers’ claim that the management violated the laws. He said that the management has been following due process by advertising vacant positions.

He said that the law allows the management to advertise the post of the VC in the absence of the Varsity Council.

“We have not violated any law. On other principal officers, we have advertised them to. Also, the law also allows that acting capacity can be renewed after expiration of six months. So, I don’t know what the ASUU mean by what they have said.”

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