Nigeria’s incoming government have been urged to consolidate on the transformation agenda of the current administration in the education sector, without considering the political differences.
The Minister of Education, Mr Ibrahim Shekarau, made the statement during his maiden visit to the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede In Owerri the Imo State capital, South-east Nigeria.
Mr Shekarau told reporters that if given more and adequate funding, polytechnics were capable of helping Nigeria attain a high technological development base, as most developed countries in the world.
He also advised the incoming General Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to sustain the two cardinal factors of the present government in education which include; increasing access to education and improving the quality of education.
In his earliest visit to the school, Mr Shekarau met with the Rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Mrs Celina Njoku and had brief interaction with the management and staff of the institution.
After the meeting, Mr Shekarau, accompanied by the Minister of State for Education, Professor Viola Onwuliri and the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education, Dr Masaudu Kazaure, proceeded to commission some of projects built by the Federal Government through the TETFUND special intervention and some other projects initiated by the school’s management.
Complementing his statements, Professor Onwuliri noted that the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration had achieved a lot in the education sector, stressing that adequate funding would make Nigeria’s educational system more enviable.
However, Mrs Njoku commended the Minister for the visit and lodged a complaint over the one billion Naira High Impact Funding for polytechnics in Nigeria which her school did not benefit from
Some of the project commissioned include the new School of Business Management complex, 500 capacity engineering lecture theater, chemical engineering department, the E-library, classroom complex and the fabrication and production workshop.
The National Universities Commission (NUC) has offered provisional licenses to the nine newly approved universities by the Federal Executive Council.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, who commended the new universities for making the cut, however, warned that substantive certificates would only be offered in the next three years to universities that have performed and grown in line with the guidelines stipulated by the commission.
He warned that any form of malpractices would attract sanctions which includes the withdrawal of the licenses of such institutions.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, warned the newly licensed institutions that the commission would continue to monitor their activities to ensure that the standards as proscribed by the law are strictly adhered to.
Teachers in Nigeria may soon have a reason to smile as the Federal Government has said it is ready to institutionalise incentives that would attract and retain the best brains as well as restore the dignity and glory of the teaching profession in Nigeria.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, made this known at the opening ceremony of the ministerial session of the National Council on Education in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, South West Nigeria.
Mallam Shekarau revealed that a national summit on teachers, involving stakeholders, would be convened to address challenges and ensure availability of quality teachers in Nigerian schools.
Education has been a major challenge for the nation with startling statistics presenting government at all level a daunting task of rectifying the ills in the sectors.
The 2nd Vice President of the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Segun Akinwotun, on Tuesday said doctors were willing to wait till December before changing their stand on the September 22 schools resumption date announced by the Federal Government.
“At the time the NMA initially made the pronouncement that we will wait till December, it was because we still had a lot of fresh cases coming up,” he said while speaking on Sunrise Daily.
He, however, noted that following the proper measures put in place, especially by all the states that had the outbreak, to contain the virus, the association decided to align its decision with that of the Federal Government.
He urged schools to properly implement the control measures that had been put in place and praised the efforts of the Port Health Services officials who preliminary screen people traveling into or within the country.
Dr Akinwotun commended the efforts put in place to contain the disease, saying: “If you compare Nigeria with other nations that have similar outbreaks, they have not been able to contain it the way we did. They are even asking for our intervention to assist them in controlling this in their countries”.
He added that in those countries people feed on the carrier of the virus, noting that it increased the rate of infected persons.
He further noted that if the virus was in the bush meat in Nigeria’s bush, we would have had our index case from within and not from the late Liberian, who flew into the country after being diagnosed with the virus.
“If we already have Ebola Virus among our bush animals and the hunters interact with them, and in the course of doing so, the body secretions come into contact with hunters that go into the farms to try and hunt the animals and process them.
“That hunter now goes home and have contact with other people” insisting that “it is not as if they are bringing those animals that are already having Ebola in those countries to Nigerian markets or bushes for hunters to go and hunt. If this thing was already there, we will have our own index case arising from Nigeria ab initio not someone coming from Liberia to Nigeria.
The leadership of the medical association, which had earlier suggested that schools remained closed until all suspected Ebola cases are cleared, yesterday noted that the association now had nothing against the new school resumption date announced by the Federal Government.
They, however, emphasised the need to focus on maintaining the “highest level of vigilance” in the several entry points, resuscitating the infectious disease hospitals in states and ensuring comprehensive screening of travellers, among others as conditions that must be met by the Federal Government.
The NMA President, Dr Kayode Obemebe also said” “All recent travellers to all the provinces of the current endemic countries of the Ebola disease, namely Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Sudan and Gabon, must be carefully scrutinized for the presence of the virus and epidemiologically treated accordingly.”
Nobody Influenced Change Of Date
The Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau explained why the date was selected and also wondered why some associations such as the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) disagreed with the date selected.
“It was a unanimous decision taken after a meeting with all state education commissioners and the health ministry. The ministry also wrote all state governors to give the directive more weight.
“At no point did anybody influence this decision. There were reports that the private sector influenced the decision. That is not true.”
“It may surprise you that when we fixed October 13, some people were very angry with us. What we did was purely on the professional advice from the Federal Ministry of Health. You have to live and survive to get education.
“If the Federal Ministry of Health tells us tomorrow that it is not safe for people to congregate, we will have to comply,” the minister stated.
While lamenting criticism from NUT on the matter, the Minister said the association never got to the ministry on the shift in school resumption date before it went to press, stressing that “people are trivialising this matter”.
A section of Nigerians have disagreed with the September 22 resumption date set by the Federal Government for public and private schools.
A health professional, member of a civil society group and a concerned parent who were guests on Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast programme, Sunrise, all shared different views with the decision taken by the federal government.
A parent, Pastor Sola Makinde, who said he is not willing to let his “three lovely children” go to school because “measures have not been put in place to ensure that children at that age may have the immunity to withstand some of these things.
The Rev, to buttress his argument that measures have not been put in place, wondered why “the federal government worked in line with the thinking of private school owners; were they induced to come to that decision or are there other secondary reasons that led us to saying September 22 will not be changed”, he said.
He also expressed disappointment over comments credited to the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu,that the September 22 date will stand, urging that Nigerians to “give in to reason, sense of patriotism, sense of caring for others and sense of seeing that our children are our future and we don’t need to lose them”.
A member, Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, Dr Adedoyin Ogunyemi, on her part believes it is important to balance the technical and psychological aspects of the disease in relation to the September 22 date.
She noted that recorded cases peaked at a point and later reduced because “it came from one source and it was the relationship with that source that led to the epidemic. So from the epidemiological point of view, you can say that there is some form of containment of this epidemic” adding that “it is being curtailed”.
She however warned that we are not out of the problem “if we still have neighbouring countries with cases of the Ebola Virus Disease”.
Dr Ogunyemi explained further that psychologically, parents and teachers must be in the position where they know what to do at any given time children show symptoms of fever, malaria or any kind of infection.
She said even “when we don’t know what it is, we (should) know what to do, so that people are not left helpless when they encounter an attack”, citing how an individual was left to himself when he slumped at the airport.
She warned that “if there is panic and fear on the part of those to take care of the children, then we have another problem to deal with”, adding that “if we dont get everybody to the point of I know what to do if I suspect a case, then we have not dealt with the issue enough to be able to say, we are ready”. She also noted that it is common for children to develop a fever, malaria, vomiting and diarrhea and “we dont want a case where a child is left alone because everybody is scared that it could be Ebola” insisting that “that is the balance I am talking about and we must achieve that balance”.
The Head of Campaign and Programmes, Civil Liberties Organisation, Onyeka Chris, argued that “resuming on September 22 is akin to sending our children to a place like Chibok or to Borno State; a war front.
“We know that soldiers are there, like they are telling us our schools are prepared to receive our children. But I know that if I visit some federal schools that have boarding facilities, where some of my children attend, I will not be comfortable.
“I know that without the Ebola outbreak that when you visit those schools and you go to their toilets, you will want to throw up” noting that “with Ebola virus, you think that I will be stupid to send my children back to school,
“Sending them back to school will make me an irresponsible parent”, he insisted.
Mr Chris also agreed with Pastor Makinde that owners of private schools are responsible for the September 22 resumption date, alleging that “most of these politicians and those in leadership positions are the owners of these schools”.
He maintained that “they are playing with the lives of Nigerians”, insisting that “none of them have their children in those schools; they dont just have their children in private schools but some of them are abroad” adding that “they are not going to be affected”.
The Ebola Virus Outbreak is a major concern for every Nigerian, and the federal government is putting all necessary measures in place to manage the spread and has announced that there is no active case in the country.
However, the school resumption date announced by the federal government for September the 22nd has raised a lot of concern for parents, teachers and doctors.
The initial announcement by the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, that all schools nationwide should resume on October 13th 2014 over the Ebola Viral Disease outbreak had sparked off a wave of reactions, with stakeholders in the private schools sector allegedly coming out heavily against it.
The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) said mass failure by students during the West African Examination Council (WAEC) can be addressed through the use of an e-curriculum.
The Executive Secretary of the Council, Prof. Godswill Obioma, told journalists in Abuja that the new e-curriculum portal for senior secondary schools would improve the quality of the curriculum and assist students to have a more inclusive and independent learning.
According to the NERDC boss, students can now access the curriculum with only N200 per annum while every school can subscribe with N50,000 per annum.
He, however, emphasized that the e-curriculum is not a newly drafted one but only intended to make curriculum delivery more qualitative to address the decline in performance at examinations.
He attributed the mass failure in the last Senior School Certificate Examinations to inadequate learning and teaching, noting however that the e-curriculum would enable students to learn at home through the internet.
Obioma said, “the objective of this public Private Partnership arrangements is to, among others, harness the potentials of the private sector in tackling the challenges of access, education standards and quality, curriculum and teacher development, funding, relevance of current issues in education to Nigerian culture as well as re-orientation for positive national values.”
“The e-curriculum portal would contribute in no small measure towards ensuing that teachers, learners and other relevant stakeholders have easy access to this very important teaching and leaning resource,” he said.
The e-curriculum which would be launched on Tuesday in Abuja by the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, was done in collaboration with Sidmach Technologies Nigeria Ltd, and it is expected to ensure the digitalization of school curriculum to e-curriculum portal.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Minister of Education, Mr Ibrahim Shekarau, to “urgently probe the alleged stealing of teachers’ salaries and benefits in several Federal Government colleges across Nigeria and punish suspected perpetrators”.
In a petition dated August 4 and signed by the SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said that “SERAP had carried out a survey and interviewed hundreds of teachers in the Federal Government Colleges across the country and that the investigations revealed that while many of the teachers interviewed had been promoted to a higher salary scale, their adjusted salaries, which accrued as a result of the promotions, had not been paid for more than 8 years”.
The organisation also said it had documents which suggested that the affected teachers’ salaries and benefits were being diverted by senior officials in the Ministry of Education and with the complicity of some officials in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
The SERAP expressed concern that the situation, apart from constituting a violation of the teachers’ right to work, will impact negatively on the morale of the affected teachers, thus undermining the effective discharge of their teaching responsibilities to millions of Nigerian children.
“We believe that teachers will perform better if they are paid their duly entitlements and benefits.
“We are bringing this matter to the attention of the Minister, so that he can order a thorough investigation into the allegations. The investigation should cover the last 10 years and it is necessary for the sake of transparency and accountability but also in the ultimate interest of the teachers at Federal Government Colleges and the students’ academic and educational progress,” the petition read.
The organisation further stressed that the outcome of the investigation should be made public and that anyone found to be responsible should be brought to justice according to due process.
It called for the payment of all the teachers’ outstanding salaries.
This is not the first time the SERAP has raised issues of corruption in the education sector. An earlier petition of the SERAP, alleging corruption and mismanagement of funds allocated for basic education in states of the Federation of Nigeria, led to the recovery by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission in October 2007 of more than 488 million Naira looted from state offices and headquarters of the Universal Basic Education Commission.
The case was subsequently taken to the ECOWAS Court, which pronounced that Nigerian children had a right to free education. However, since the judgement was delivered in November 2010, the government has neither acknowledged the judgement nor taken steps to implement the letter and spirit of the judgement.
Lecturers under the auspices of the Colleges Of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) have suspended their strike for three months.
The President of the union, Mr Emmanuel Asagha, told journalists in Abuja after a meeting with the Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, that the decision to suspend the strike was to give the new minister time to look into their demands.
”The strike will be suspended for a period of three months as it is being emphasized that the issues will be resolved in the shortest possible time and we cannot just call off the strike”, Mr Asagba said.
”We believe a period of three months is reasonable enough for the Government to prove their mettle in addressing the key issues; hence students will resume on Monday”, he concluded.
The Minister of Education and former Governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, assured the union that Government would take practical steps to address their needs.
”We have assured them that we will facilitate and fast track all the process of reaching out to all other agencies involved in resolving the issues” Shekarau said.
The lecturers, who have being on strike, joined their polytechnic counterparts in suspending their strike for three months and seven days to ensure that the Government do the needful in addressing their demands.
Former Governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, who recently defected to the PDP from the APC, has been reacting to the recent pronouncement by the governors from the North East under emergency rule that elections should be held in 2015 in those state.
Ibrahim Shekarau, who was in the Presidential Villa, where he held a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, told state house correspondents that election can be put off in any area that poses a threat to the lives of Nigerians.
According to him, although people should be allowed to decide their fate, that does not necessarily mean that elections should be held under a volatile situation.
He wondered why anybody should be spitting fire over the situation, insisting that both the governors from the North East and the Federal Government should join hands to address the situation in the interest of the people they want to govern.