UK Unveils £1 Billion Schools ‘Catch-Up’ Plan After Lockdown

In this file photo taken on March 25, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during a remote press conference to update the nation on the Covid-19 pandemic, in side 10 Downing Street in central London on March 25, 2020. 10 Downing Street / AFP
In this file photo taken on March 25, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during a remote press conference to update the nation on the Covid-19 pandemic, in side 10 Downing Street in central London on March 25, 2020. 10 Downing Street / AFP

 

 

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said English schools would receive £1 billion ($1.2bn, 1.1bn euros) in funding to help pupils catch up after missing months of classes due to the coronavirus.

The financial boost comes as his government faces withering criticism over its broken pledge to have all primary school children back for a month before the summer holidays.

It is also struggling to get all pupils back for the new academic year in September if social distancing rules requiring people to keep two metres apart remain in force.

The new money includes £650 million for state-run primary and secondary schools to “lift educational outcomes”, and £350 million for a tutoring scheme specifically for the most disadvantaged youngsters.

Head teachers will be able to decide how to spend the £650 million, but the government said it expects it to be spent “on evidence-based interventions”, in particular small group tuition.

“This £1 billion catch-up package will help head teachers to provide extra support to children who have fallen behind while out of school,” Johnson said.

British schools have been closed to most pupils since late March, when the country headed into lockdown as the virus spread out of control.

Some primary school year groups were able to come back earlier this month, but the government backtracked on the remainder and some older students returning amid staff shortages and social distancing concerns.

Johnson is under growing pressure to relax the rules to one metre to make it easier for schools and hospitality businesses to restart.

In Northern Ireland, most pupils are set for a return in the autumn after the devolved government agreed Thursday to cut the social distancing measure to one metre for pupils in school.

“I am determined to do everything I can to get all children back in school from September, and we will bring forward plans on how this will happen as soon as possible,” Johnson said.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the government also hopes to allow providers running holiday clubs and activities for children over the summer to open “if the science allows”.

“Guidance will be provided to the sector on how to implement the protective measures necessary to open safely, and to parents on how to minimise the spread of the virus if they choose to attend,” he added.

-AFP

Edo LGAs To Comb Primary Schools For Ghost Workers

Edo LGAs To Comb Primary Schools For Ghost WorkersThe Chairman of The Forum of Heads of Services in the 18 local government areas of Edo State, Tom Ebhotemen, says local government authorities will commence investigation into the staffing of the primary schools in their LGAs to determine if the teachers being paid salaries are actually there.

Tom Ebhotemen said this resolution was arrived at, after the joint allocation meeting where it was discovered that the 18 councils will be left with 599 Million Naira to pay salaries out of the 1.8 Billion Naira Allocation from the Federation Account.

The statutory 5% of the allocation for traditional rulers, one percent training fund and teachers’ salary gulped 1.2 billion Naira.

“Because of the very large chunk of monies that goes for teachers’ salaries we have resolved that we will carry out snap checks on primary schools to ensure that the teachers we pay salaries to are really on ground.

“If you look at the total amount paid to teachers by all the local governments and other mandatory expenditure you have a total of N1.2 Billion out of a total of 1.8 billion Naira.

“You will now appreciate the difficulty that local governments are getting. Certainly with what we have left, most of the councils will find it difficult even to pay salaries and our normal obligations to our workers.

“But you realize also that these mandatory expenditures are not imposed on us by the government, they are our statutory responsibilities.

“We have also resolved that marriage registry should be strengthened in the various local governments.

“This is as a result of the Federal Government establishing marriage registry in some states of the Federation whereas the issue of marriage registry, registration of births and deaths is the statutory responsibility of the various local government as provided by Schedule (5) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution as amended.

“We have also resolved that councils should look more inward, since allocation has continued to dwindle and the Governor has advised us that we should be very hardworking so that our areas of revenue we can utilize all.”

FG Says 200,000 Youths Mobilized For Social Investment Programme

FG Says 200,000 Youths Mobilized For Social Investment ProgrammeThe Nigerian government says it has mobilized 200,000 youths out of the targeted 500,000 for the volunteer graduate scheme in its social investment programme.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation, Afolabi Imokhuede, was on Sunrise Daily on Channels Television, where he shared updates on the progress of the programme.

“As you know, it’s a paid volunteer programme for two years wherein they will work as teaching assistants in the public primary schools. They will work as healthcare delivery assistants in the community health centre and also as Agric Extension workers in the farms.

“We’ve done this in strong collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Heath and basically the 36 states and the FCT,” he said.

He gave a background into the Social Investment Programme and how it has been designed, explaining that asides the graduate component which is for 500,000 beneficiaries, there is also the non-graduate component which is for about 100,000 people out of which 75,000 will go for vocational jobs while the remaining will go for technology-based jobs.

He gave the assurance that contrary to criticisms, the project has been done with consideration for the needs in the states and in collaboration with the governors.

“Each state governor has given us a focal person and these are very senior persons in the level of commissioners or special advisers to them and obviously the FCT Minister also has given us a focal person.

“The states are actually going to be in charge of deployment as the demand is.

“The programme is designed such that those who are going for the ‘Teach Programme’ would go into public primary schools but some states have already started making suggestions that they may also want to deploy them to junior secondary schools but those will be up to the states,” he said.

Imokhuede noted that the programme has been designed to “speak to the needs of the economy” especially in line with the diversification efforts of the government.

This makes its collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture an important part of the scheme.

He explained that the agric extension workers would not only be trained but would also be provided with tools while a web-based training portal will be available to them to facilitate the “earn while you learn” system.

Collaboration with the private sector still remains an integral part of government’s drive to create jobs in the country and Mr Imokhuede stated that the Social Investment Programme is not an attempt by the government to take the place of entrepreneurs.

Rather, the private sector will become beneficiaries of the output on the long run.

He added that unlike the graduate scheme, the empowerment scheme which involves vocational and technological trainings would be private sector driven.

“Our private sector partners are very active. They are the ones who are actually going to provide the needed apprenticeship and work experience that these young beneficiaries would get,” he said.

Educationists Underate UBE In Bayelsa State

UBE, Bayelsa StateEducationists in Bayelsa State say the Universal Basic Education (UBE) has not done as much as was expected in the state.

Although they lauded the programme, the academics believe the pitiable condition of the government-owned public schools had led to an increase in the number and patronage of private- own schools in Bayelsa State, south-south Nigeria.

They alleged that the involvement of politicians in the implementation process had brought the education sector to a state of decay.

The educationists further requested for an immediate intervention, with special reference to the primary and secondary schools in the oil-rich state.

A former State Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers, Mr Alabo Erewari, lamented that the UBE in Bayelsa State was not effective.

He noted that the state had been selective in its interpretation of the programme, stressing that it has not comprehensively implemented the programme.

The Principal of Agudama Comprehensive High School in Agudama-Ekpetiama, Mrs Akanyo Dorcas, also said that schools in Bayelsa State were now in a worse situation.

Channels Television crew which visited some of the primary and secondary schools in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, said that the structures were in dire need of renovation.

The UBE programme, which was launched by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on September 30, 1999, was intended to be universal, free, and compulsory.

The goal of the programme is to provide functional, universal, and quality education for all Nigerians irrespective of age, sex, race, religion, occupation, or location.

The UBE programme was implemented in Bayelsa State to significantly improve the education deficit in the state.

Edo Govt. To Build More Schools With Three Billion Naira

Adams Oshiomhole, Edo, SchoolsThe Edo State government is set to spend another three billion Naira in building more primary schools in the 18 local government areas of the state.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole disclosed this to reporters in Benin City, the state’s capital in southern Nigeria.

He was also addressing school children during the Children’s Day celebration, with the theme: “Protect the Rights of the Children in the Face of Violence and Insecurity and End Child Marriage” at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Edo State.

With the proposed decision of the state government, it is expected that learning environments would be in more enhanced condition to aid easy assimilation of the required knowledge by pupils.

FEC Approves Text Books Worth N8.6bn For Primary And Secondary Schools

The Federal Executive Council has approved contracts over 8.6 billion naira for the supply of text books to public primary and junior secondary schools in the country.

The contracts were validated following a memo by the Education Minister, Raquyat Rufai for the provision of text books on Mathematics, English Language, Science and Technology.

Briefing journalists after the meeting the Information Minister said flanked by the education Minister and his state education counterpart, Nyesom Wike stated that the 400 million textbooks and other resource materials will be customized with the inscription: “FGN-UBEC 2012 intervention, not for sale” and state codes for easy tracing in case of diversion to unauthorised places will also be imprinted on these books.

The council also approved the contract to locally procure 40 utility vehicles for field works ahead of the 2016 national population census. President Jonathan gave the National Population Commission directives to procure the vehicles locally so as to encourage, develop and provide foundation for local manufacturers in the automobile industry.

ICPC Boss To Sanitize Nigeria’s Higher Institutions

The Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has promised to sanitize the Nation’s educational Institutions, and for a start, by bringing to book 67 illegal Universities who have been operating in the Country.

The Chairman of the ICPC, Ekpo Nta made the promise in Calabar while presenting a paper on Corruption and National Security at the 22nd Annual International Conference on African Literature and English Language (ICALEL) at the University of Calabar, the Cross River State Capital.

The Chairman started his presentation full of eulogies for African literature by saying that, African literature had in the past been in the forefront of the fight against colonialism. Today more than ever, it must continue to throw its weight in the war against corruption and help democratic institutions develop.

Addressing students, Academic and non-Academic staff drawn from different universities in the country on Corruption and National Security, the ICPC boss said, Nigerians have continued to live in fear due to the worsening security situation in the country, a situation he blamed on corruption from various sectors of the economy.

He explained that, in shaping the consciousness of Nigerians, the commission is committed more than ever to promote ICATEL, with emphasis on the role literature and writers have played in enriching the fight against corruption.

Corruption, he added is responsible for underdevelopment, unemployment and the security threat which is ravaging some parts of the country, leading to the loss of lives.

The ICPC chairman said the commission has established an Anti –Corruption Monitoring Unit (ACTUS) in Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including Nigerian Universities to monitor corrupt practices, which might come in form of sexual harassment from lecturers, duplication of results, and unnecessary delay of graduates’ transcript with the support of the National Universities Commission.

The Commission believes that Corruption should be discouraged from primary schools, a step which the Ministry has taken by including this aspect into schools curriculum.

ICPC Prolific writer, Elechi Amadi, whose works were adjudged to have dealt sorely with the issue of corruption in the country, encouraged Nigerian ICATEL Students on the need to generate more ideas focused on dealing with the issues of corruption.

China Achebe’s novel No Longer At Ease (1960), Anthills of the Savannah (1987) and Wale Okediran’s Tenants of the House (2009) among others were the focal points used at this year’s conference which gives an insight into the evolution of corruption in the society.