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TETFund commits to enhancing NOUN study centres with high-speed fibre optics — NOUN VC

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The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) will upgrade all the study centres of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) with fibre optics to transmit information and data with the speed of light.

The Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Olufemi Peters, said this during a pre-convocation news conference on Monday, ahead of its 13th convocation slated for April 13, in Abuja.

Fibre optics, or optical fibre, refers to the technology that transmits information as light pulses along a glass or plastic fibre.

Mr Peters said the rate of technology advancement at NOUN attracted the offer from TETFund.

“Right now, our academics all over the faculties and departments have video components to assist our students and we deploy this with ease.

“And because of the manner we deploy technology, TETFund has offered to assist us with fibre optics in all our study centres across the country.

“It is a testimony to where we are in terms of technology,” Mr Peters said.

He said that a lot of Nigerians were yet to understand how the university operates in spite of its years of existence in the country.

Mr Peters noted that the institution had brought development to many towns and villages where the university had its study centres.

“The forthcoming convocation would be an opportunity to showcase what the institution can do with technology,” he said.

Mr Peters said that 22,175 students in various disciplines across the country would be graduating on April 13.

He said the graduating students would join the convocation via technology from its 120 study centres across the country.

“Of this number, 15,768 are undergraduate degrees, while 6,407 are for postgraduate degrees, with the Faculty of Social Sciences producing the highest number of graduates.

“Twenty-two of these students are first class, 2,362 are PGD graduates, while 41 are Masters and six are leaving the institution as PHD holders.

“This is an indication that the school is gradually moving towards establishing a more robust postgraduate school,” he said.

Mr Peters said the interesting part of the convocation would be the conferment of an investiture on the University’s new Chancellor, His Royal Majesty, Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, with a Doctorate Degree, and his installation as the Chancellor.

He said that the convocation lecture would be delivered by the Vice Chancellor of the Open University of Tanzania, Prof. Elifas Bisanda, with the topic: “Is Western education still relevant for Africa.”

The NOUN VC said the lecture would direct Nigeria and Africa in general to areas which would be useful to citizens.

He added that the lecture would be followed by the conferment of honorary Doctorate Degrees on Dr Innocent Chukwuma, the chief executive officer of Innoson Motors, and Hafsatu Abdulwaheed, the first female novelist in northern Nigeria and an eminent activist.

“Dr Chukwuma is a well-known Nigerian entrepreneur and founder of Innoson Motors, and his creativity and commitment to local content, is one of the reasons the university considered it fit to honour him.

“The second person, Hajia Hafsatu, has dedicated her works to promoting education, particularly for girls, and she believes in the transformative power of literacy to uplift communities and break the circle of poverty.

“These two awardees reflect the core values of NOUN which is entrepreneur ingenuity and knowledge-based content creativity,” Mr Peters said.

Education

Children’s rights to education, the most violated in Nigeria — Advocate

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By Omolola Dede Adeyanju

In commemoration of Children’s Day, May 27th, several players in the children development business have voiced their displeasure at the increasing rate of children’s rights violations in the country.

Barrister for Children’s right and Social Development Advocate, Barr. Olamide Akin Alabi in respect to children’s rights, said, “There are several violations, to children’s rights in Nigeria, such as child marriage, and others, but one of the most violated children’s rights in Nigeria is the right to education.”

“Many children are deprived of access to quality education due to factors such as poverty, cultural practices, inadequate infrastructure, and political instability. Every child deserves access to quality education and the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global economic landscape.”

Olamide noted the reasons as Economic Barriers which cut across the High levels of poverty in the country as many families cannot afford school fees, uniforms, or other educational expenses.

“Families are prioritising basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing over education which is very understandable; Cultural Practices also considering that in some regions, cultural norms prioritise child labour or early marriage over education, especially for girls,” she said.

Lastly, the Barrister pinpointed insecurity, noting the ongoing conflict and violence, particularly in the northern regions which disrupt schooling and make it unsafe for children to attend.

To the reasons stated, Olamide proffered solutions as Legislative Reforms, depicting that the government should enact strengthening and enforcing laws that guarantee free and compulsory education for all children. Economic Support Programs which oversees the implementation of social safety nets and financial support programs for families to reduce the economic burden of schooling.

She added, “Community and Cultural Interventions, that is, engaging with local communities to shift cultural perceptions about the importance of education. Security Measures, that is, enhancing security around schools and in conflict-prone areas to ensure a safe learning environment.

“Monitoring and Accountability, that is, establishing transparent mechanisms to ensure that educational funds are used appropriately and reach the intended beneficiaries.”

She submitted, “UNICEF is collaborating with the Universal Basic Education Commission to develop the ‘National Framework of Action to Reduce the Number of Out-of-School Children in Nigeria” and the “Retention, Transition, and Completion Model.’ These initiatives are aimed at tackling the root causes of educational deprivation and ensuring that every child in Nigeria has the opportunity to receive a quality education.”

Addressing the out-of-school children crisis in Nigeria which rose to over 18 million according to UNICEF Nigeria. She enumerated that the issue is multifaceted, involving economic, social, and infrastructural factors.

“Africa is projected to have the largest working population in the near future. However, the quality of this human resource is crucial. One way to enhance this human resource is through education. Hence, the out-of-school children crisis is a significant challenge. To address and potentially eradicate this challenge, several strategies could be implemented:

“Increase Funding for Education: Ensuring adequate funding for schools, particularly for teacher training, especially in underserved areas, can improve the quality of education and make it more accessible; Improve School Infrastructure: Building and maintaining adequate educational facilities, providing learning materials, and ensuring a safe learning environment are crucial; Teacher Training and Support: Investing in the professional development of teachers can enhance the quality of education and make learning more engaging for students.”

Also, Awareness Campaigns: Raising awareness about the importance of education and the long-term benefits of staying in school can change community attitudes and prioritise education.

In respect to mentorship for children, the Barrister explained, “First, let’s establish that children indeed need mentors, which can be either structured or unstructured mentorship. Since there is no vacuum in mentorship, children are being mentored by someone, even if informally.

“A mentor is someone whom a child can look up to and see what they aspire to become.”

“It is beneficial,” Olamide explained, “to curate mentorship programs because structured mentorship can help children navigate academic challenges, develop social and emotional skills, and build confidence.”

“Additionally, mentors can expose children to career opportunities, foster a sense of belonging, and act as positive role models, especially for those who may lack such figures in their personal lives.”

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Education

Parents will bring children to public schools when we are done — Benue Quality Assurance DG boasts

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By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

The Director General of Benue State Education Quality Assurance Agency, Dr Terna Francis has boasted that the Agency, under his watch and in line with the vision of the Governor of Benue State Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia for the state education system to work, would embark on total overhauling of the basic education system of the state to the required standard obtainable anywhere in the country.

Dr. Terna also stated that by changing the narrative of the state basic education system, parents would volunteer to withdraw their children and wards from private schools to public schools haven seen the revived status of public schools under Governor Alias administration.

He also explained that a lot of abnormalities have been discovered in the basic state education system and decided to abolish some of the tendencies that portrayed the state education system in bad light such as the collection of goats and yams from school Principals by inspection officers of the Agency to avoid standard compromise.

The Director General made the disclosure on Thursday while fielding questions from journalists at the Agency’s headquarters in Makurdi .

Dr Terna explained that the mandatory N100,000 inspection fee to be paid by any visiting school covers the transportation and other logistics for the inspection officers on duty.

“What I met on assumption of duty is that, after a school paid the mandatory N100,000 fee, school heads donate goats, 100 tubers of yams and certain monies for visiting inspection officers,” the Director General revealed.

He explained that once such incentives are provided to inspection officers, they turn to compromise in the course of duty.

He said, “I recall that, in the past out of 683 schools, 438 were sanctioned by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in Benue State, in which case it is the reverse now.”

Dr Terna also explained that the Common Entrance Examination in the state was also a corrupt policy for extorting money from candidates with no record of proceeds or results released to them and has been abolished.

He further revealed that about 900 schools he has visited in the state within his short time in office, he discovered ghost schools and teachers, while some teachers who are supposed to be at their duty post in Vandeikya or Gbajimba are in Makurdi and elsewhere in Abuja, collecting salaries at the State’s expense without justification.

The Director General also announced the proposed Teacher’s Loan Scheme to be launched soon by the Governor with very minimal interest for five years repayment as the case may be,  with the aim of assisting teachers in training their children in schools within and abroad.

“Gone are those days when teachers said they didn’t have money to train their children abroad. The Governor of Benue state Hyacinth Alia will make it practically possible for teachers in the state,” he maintained.

He applauded Governor Hyacinth Alia for the  payment of WAEC, NECO and NBTE for students in the state government schools and sued for more support from all and sundry to enable him to salvage the state in all sectors.

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Education

Adeleke assures of teachers recruitment

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By Jeleel Olawale

Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke has disclosed that screening of teachers for recruitment into the state teaching service is ongoing in a bid to improve standard of education.

Speaking at the flag off of distribution of educational materials for students of secondary schools across the state on Wednesday, he said his administration is not relenting at ensuring that he revamped education in the state.

He noted, “Education has been and shall remain one of the priorities of this administration. That was what informed the staging of the Education Summit held in August, 2023 with the theme ‘Getting it Right and Revamping Osun Education.’

“Since the release of the Summit Report as well as the White Paper thereof, our government has started the gradual implementation of the recommendations one after the other.

“Recruitment of teachers into public primary and secondary schools in the State. Screening process is still ongoing and would be completed soon; Implementing to letters the controversial Federal Circular on ‘New Retirement Age for Teachers’ which has been on course and the few that applied for post service re-engagement shall be interviewed soon just as the circular dictates;

“Vacancies created by retirement of school heads across the State have been filled with capable hands leaving no vacuum in school management; fortifying schools security system by engaging Peace Corps of Nigeria, Osun State Command as school policing and neighbourhood watch to schools.

“That was in addition to the existing cadets of Edumarshal. These were targeted at ensuring that students and pupils operate in the peaceful atmosphere that learning demands.”

Earlier in his address, the Commissioner for Education, Dipo Eluwole disclosed that the state schools infrastructure development programme is ongoing with a view to expanding access to children across the state.

“Osun state was chosen as a pilot state for school feeding in Nigeria, it is the only state in Nigeria that continues feeding pupils now without the Federal government intervention.

“This is evident in the visit of the Senior Special Assistant to Mr. President on Home Grown School Feeding, Osun is also one of the pilot states for the establishment of Alternative School for Girls,” he added.

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