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Education

Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Education said it will constitute a national committee on the harmonisation of schools and examination calendar following the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, made this known at the 2020 Annual Ministerial briefing in Abuja on Thursday.

The Minister said there was a need for the harmonisation so that schools, learners, teachers and examination bodies would be on the same page.

According to him, following the outbreak of COVID-19 by the end of 2019, the first step taken as a nation was to close down all the teaching and learning facilities nationwide in March 2020.

“Upon closure, we proceeded to float online learning facilities. The major challenges we had were electricity and internet access for teachers and learners.

” Consequently, while some learners continued their education, others, especially in the rural areas could not, thereby putting our learners at different levels of exposure.

“There is, therefore, the need for us to harmonise our schools and examination calendar be it state, Federal or private schools.

” This is because, at the end of the academic year, children in primary schools who want to proceed to our unity colleges will have to write the National Common Entrance on the same day,” he said.

He added that the committee comprising NECO, WAEC, NABTEB, JAMB and a representative of private school owners among others would be inaugurated before the end of January.

On the increasing carrying capacity in tertiary institutions, Adamu noted that four public universities, six polytechnics and six Federal Colleges of Education had been established in the last one year.

He added that four private universities and several polytechnics, colleges of education and allied institutions were also established to address the carrying capacities in higher institutions.

” A breakdown in terms of the number of universities shows that the country now has 44 federal universities, 50 state universities, bringing the total number of public universities to 94.

” As at last count, the country has 79 private universities bringing the number of universities in Nigeria to 173 with a combined carrying capacity of over 2.5 million.

” Nigeria has a total of 85 (federal and state) polytechnics, 61 private polytechnics, 117 monotechnic (federal, state and private), Colleges of Agriculture, specialised institutions and colleges of health technology,” he said.

According to him, the country has 158 Innovation Enterprise Institutions (federal, state and private).

“Total enrollment shows that the polytechnics have an enrolment figure of 348,326 students while the monotechnics have 33,338 with specialised institutions accounting for 5,197.

” Innovative Enterprise Institutions recorded 3,454 enrolments and the total enrollment in these categories of institutions stands at 385,118 students.”

The minister further explained that the government had added six federal colleges of education across the geopolitical zones and licensed 14 colleges of education with a combined carrying capacity of 49,500.

He said that the total carrying capacity of the nation’s colleges of education as of today stood at 495,340 spaces.

He also noted that the Tertiary Trust Fund had committed N395,032,375 to the development of infrastructure in tertiary institutions.

He said this was aside from budgetary allocation and revitalisation funds to universities.

He, therefore, added that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had witnessed massive investment in capital projects in tertiary institutions totaling approximately N1.7 trillion with universities taking two-third of the total sum

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Education

Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved an increase in the retirement age of teachers across the country from 60 to 65 years or 40 years in service as against 35.

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu revealed this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the Council meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to him, the new retirement age for teachers is now 65 years or 40 years of service.

He said the Federal Executive Council also approved that bill to be known as ‘Harmonized Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Bill 2020’ be sent to the National Assembly to give legal backing to the approval.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that prior to this development, the retirement age of teachers in the country was 60 years or 35 years in service.

The minister said government decided to increase the years as a reward for teachers’ dedication to duty and also to attract more people to the profession.

He said: “This memo that was approved for the Ministry of Education is a giant step towards what we set out to do last year, with the approval of some special packages for teachers by the President.

“So, at the meeting today, Council approved that a bill which will be called harmonized Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Bill 2020 be sent to the National Assembly for enactment into law so that all the promises made by the president and all the approvals he had given to me will now begin to be put into effect because this is the legal backing that is required for it.

“The essence of the bill actually is to give legal backing for the approval of a new retirement age of 65 for teachers and then the service period being extended to 40 years.

“The intention is to attract the best brains to the teaching profession and for that, the president approved the reintroduction of bursary awards, improving teacher quality, funding teaching practice from TETFUND, enhanced entry point for teachers.’’

Adamu announced that the president also approved that there should be some special allowances, like rural posting allowance and science teachers’ allowance to boost teacher education in the country.

Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, who also spoke on the outcome of the meeting, said the Council approved N1.4 billion for the upgrading of electricity facilities at the Calabar Free Trade Zone Area.

He said: “On behalf of one of our parastatals, the Nigeria Exports Processing Zones Authority, we brought a memo for the award of contract for the upgrade of the electricity component in the Calabar Free Trade Zone Area.

“The contracts were initially awarded in 2018 to upgrade the electrical facility in the Area but it was not completed so we brought a memo today and council approved the sum of N1,000,484, 000 for the completion of electrical upgrading at the Calabar Free Trade Zone Area.”

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, also disclosed that the Council ratified Nigeria’s membership of the global treaty on the Genetic Resource for Food and Agriculture.

According to him, this will enhance the capacity of agricultural scientists and agricultural production in the country.

He said: “This memo which was approved today was a treaty on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

“The import of this treaty is for the advancement and enhancement of the agricultural resource base of the member countries.

“Nigeria has signed the treaty for a long time but it is only today that the FEC approved the ratification.

“We will now become a full-fledged member of this treaty and it will enhance training and research of our agricultural scientists and so on and so forth.

“In short, the entire treaty is meant to boost agricultural production in the country as it affects other countries, 167 of them.’’

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Education

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has urged the Federal Government to mobilise and encourage universities and research institutes to find lasting solution to the scourge of COVID-19.

Dr Dipo Akomolafe, Chairman, ASUU, Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUSTECH) Chapter, Okitipupa, Ondo State, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Okitipupa.

Akomolafe said  that rather than rely on imported vaccines as being speculated, the government should also challenge universities and research institutes with funds for  solution to the deadly disease.

“If our universities and research institutes are mobilised and encouraged by the Federal Government, they will find solution to the scourge of Coronavirus ,” he said.

According  to him, the closure of schools against the spread of COVID-19 is not really the solution but to put in place necessary provisions of facilities in schools to enable them function safely and enforce the precautionary measures  against its  spread.

“From the presentation of government so far, most deaths recorded from COVID-19 were  from the  ages of 60 above and the range of youths was not much, so the closure of schools over COVID-19 is not the option.

“Government should make necessary provisions of facilities to schools to enable them function safely and enforce its preventive measures to guide against the spread of the disease,” Akomolafe added.

NAN reports that Mallam Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education, had on Thursday in a national broadcast said that schools across the country would resume on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 with strict compliance to COVID-19 protocols.

(NAN)

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Education

The Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr Hamid Bobboyi, has revealed that Nigeria needs 277, 537 teachers at the basic level, according to a National Personnel Audit (NPA) it conducted on Public and Private Basic Education Schools in the country.

In a statement issued by the commission’s Head of Public Relations and Protocol, Mr David Apeh, and made available to newsmen, in Abuja, on Sunday, Bobboyi said that the NPA indicated that while 73 per cent of those teaching in public schools were qualified teachers, only 53 per cent of teachers in private schools were qualified to teach.

“Our hope is that with the current reforms that are being put in place where you attract the best candidates into the teaching profession and compensate them adequately, the narrative will change.”

He noted that it was essential for teachers to be trained professionally, hence the need to prioritise quality of teaching.

According to him, one of the major challenges was getting qualified teachers, to teach the children in the country, though the Federal Ministry of Education was trying to address this.

In realisation of the importance of teachers in the provision of quality education, he said, the commission had designated 10 per cent of the entire amount it received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to Teacher Professional Development, through the States’ Universal Basic Education Boards.

“We remain the biggest teacher development agency in the country, not even the National Teachers’ Institute or any other agency.

” UBEC’s 10 per cent of the entire amount that is received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund is designated for Teacher Professional Development, through the States’ Universal Basic Education Boards.

 

” That is something that is very important for us to realise that we pump in a minimum of N10 billion every year for Teacher Professional Development in this country,” he said.

On instructional materials, the Executive Secretary said because achieving quality education was dependent on the quality of resources, UBEC voted 15 per cent of the entire amount received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund annually, for the purchase of instructional materials for distribution to schools.

He said the expectation was that state governments would complement this effort by acquiring textbooks for their own schools, especially textbooks in key subjects.

On the issue of equity, the UBEC boss said the Commission had been working on a plan that would ensure that those children, who were left on their own or whose parents have been able to fund their education, in addition to those with special needs, were accommodated in the public school system.

He said two per cent of UBEC funding was allocated to special needs education, which translated to about N2.1 billion annually disbursed to states.

While acknowledging that the money was small when compared to the number of children with special needs, he lamented that the problem was more of the states’ inability to use the money strategically to make a difference.

Bobboyi appealed to stakeholders in the education sector to join hands with the Federal Government in strengthening the quality of teaching and learning at the basic level of education so as to ensure that graduates were globally competitive.

He said that even though the year 2020 was very challenging, due to the  COVID-19 pandemic that led to lockdown of the country, including closure of schools for the most part, the commission had been working hard in many areas, including support for the provision of e-learning and other measures in response to the pandemic.

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Ekiti State Government, on Tuesday, said that its payment of N7.3 billion Universal Basic Education (UBEC) counterpart fund was part of its intervention to reposition the education sector.

Prof. Femi Akinwumi, Chairman, Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) while briefing newsmen on the commission’s activities geared towards uplifting basic education in the State said, the N7.3bn payment was for the execution of projects in public primary and secondary schools in the last two years, approved by gov. Kayode Fayemi to prioritise basic education and turn around the education sector.

The SUBEB chairman assured that the state’s public schools would be remodeled to attract influx of pupils from private schools, a situation which, he said, had begun manifesting across the state.

He said: “I am a product of public school, same with several other accomplished academics and professionals across Ekiti. So we have to do our best to reposition public schools in Ekiti.

“Governor Fayemi has the interest of basic education at heart. He has been doing a lot to promote that cadre of education by building structures, providing instructional materials and trainings to teachers.

“If the State had been able to pay a sum of N 7.3 billion counterpart funding within two years, then you would know how committed we are to education.

“For four years in Ekiti, which was between 2014 and 2018, there was no construction, no training at the level of SUBEB, but the present administration has been able to change that.

“By 2021, you will see model colleges springing up in Ekiti. We got four model schools in 2020 named after prominent Ekiti indigenes. They are Prof. Banji Akinyoye, Sen. Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Deji Fasuan and Prof. David Oke. All the schools are fully occupied by pupils.

“We are trying to depopulate the private schools, because people are beginning to move in droves to the public primary and secondary schools, having seen the rising quality of education in Ekiti public schools.”

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