By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
One recent occurrence that typifies the nation’s education sector as an area in urgent need of help is the current shoddy state of Ologbo Primary and Secondary Schools, Ologbo, Obarentin community in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State, formerly called Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria Primary and Secondary School, Ologbo.
In addition to signalling the gory tale of poor leadership, neglect and outright abandonment of responsibility by the Edo State government, the pictures and accompanying commentaries diverted attention from real threat deserving of healthy and appropriate fear, the federal government’s protracted inability to resolve their impasse with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). It is more than anything else the ugly awareness at the school sowed confusion that portrays the Edo state as a state where leadership has drained people’s will and is now left with weakened rational character.
Expectedly also, many have risen in staunch defence of the Governor; saying that blame in the present circumstance may not be the smart thing to do; for when the verdict is passed on someone, it blocks the possibility of knowing who the person is and definitely creates biases, sentiments, prejudice, and also makes the mind become impervious and closed towards either seeing the good sides of the person or the bad sides of the person.
To others, the Governor should in the interim be excused because when it comes to making decisions or pursuing purposeful initiatives, leaders naturally fall victim to the trap of unexpected limitations such as inadequate funds among others.
To the rest, achieving sustainable development in a sector such as education is a systemic thing that takes time. Therefore, the Governor needs to be allowed more time to perform before subjecting his performance to critical scrutiny.
Whatever the true position may be, the truth is this piece’s latest condemnation of Governor Obaseki’s poor leadership habit is both natural, neutral and perceptual.
The reason is simple. Experience via observation has shown that in Nigeria, particularly in the Niger Delta region, leaders are never mentally prepared for the task of leadership. They seem to forget that the more preparation, planning and activation of the execution process they make, the better they perform in the task of leadership.
Supporting the above assertion is the awareness that when one spends time thinking about how we approach leadership in Nigeria and asks important questions about how leaders in Nigeria set their priorities, time and funds, it becomes easy to situate the fact that the hallmark of poor performance in Nigeria is not Obaseki specific.
Take, as an illustration, a while ago, in a particular intervention, this author highlighted pictures of a similar shoddy state and wicked neglect of Oyoko Primary School, Abavo, Ika South Local Government Area of Delta state.
Like the Ologbo Primary and secondary schools situation, the referenced piece underlined disturbing pictures which showed visibly distressed structures with fallen ceilings, windows and doors. The piece concluded by concluding that from the pictures and accompanying commentaries, it cannot be characterized as an overstatement to describe such a ‘scene’ as deplorable, dehumanizing, troubling, in bad light bracingly in contravention of the international best standards and most importantly, a reality that all well-meaning Deltans including our dear Governor should worry about.
Broadly speaking, there are so many reasons why this author is particularly interested in bringing to the fore these poor courses of action/ inaction chosen ahead of logic by the public authority to address the nation’s education sector; their definition of the problem, the goals to be achieved, or the means chose to address the problems and to achieve the goals.
By analysing each of these elements, in turn, it becomes easy to understand the essential ingredients that made great nations what they are today, as well as answer questions as to why others, such as Nigeria, are unsuccessful.
To explain this point, it is believed that policies, plans and strategies are fundamental to the progress and development of countries, yet, right from independence, the problem with education in the country very much lies with underfunding, payment of lip service to, and inconsistency in policies driven by several panels set up by the government to recommend measures to enhance the quality of education in the country. This problem is not so much with the recommendations of the various panels but their poor implementation by those entrusted to do so.
If not bad policy and poor implementation, how do we explain governments’ inability to heed the United Nations Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) budgetary recommendation on education? What other expression shall we say of a country’s education where researches are not adequately funded and yet, the President allowed hundreds of millions to go into replacing his plates and cutlery yearly? And what shall we expect from an educational ministry headed by someone who is not an educationist? This may however not be the only explanation.
As to what should be done, we must recognize two realities.
First and very fundamental, that is like in a business where no organization can grow consistently faster than its ability to get enough of the right people to implement such growth. likewise, we must admit that with the education sector’s present state, it will be difficult if not impossible to develop disruptive or constructive concepts that can shatter set patterns of thinking and provide solutions to the nagging challenges in the country until policymakers consider education as the bedrock of development; that with sound educational institutions, a country is as good as made -as the institutions will turn out all rounded manpower to continue with the development of a hyper-modern society driven by well thought out ideas, policies, programmes and projects. But such a tendency is clearly different here.
Secondly, policymakers must admit the fact that our children enjoy the right to education as recognized by a number of international conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which recognizes a compulsory primary education for all, an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all, as well as the progressive introduction of free higher education/obligation to develop equitable access to higher education.
The nation must stop playing ‘casino’ with funding of the sector, and in its place, come to the realization that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our schools work and our children are properly educated at the right time and place.
As to closing the nation’s revolving underdevelopment door, there is an urgent need to rework the university system to meet the manpower demand by the industrial sector as a strategic consequence of this failure has made Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions in the country continue to turn out, every year several thousands of graduates that the industry does not need. This is made worse by the fact that there is a nation where uncalculated importance is attached to the possession of university degrees as against the possession of skills necessary for self-reliance and national development.
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). He can be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374
Airtel to Digitalise 620 Primary Schools in Lagos, Kano, Others
By Dipo Olowookere
Six hundred and twenty schools in Lagos, Kano and other states of the federation will have access to the internet and devices aimed to aid digital learning.
This would be done in three months, with 20 schools in Lagos and Kano States enjoying this initiative this month courtesy of a partnership between Airtel Nigeria and UNICEF.
Airtel is making this possible for the 620 primary schools under the Reimagine Education Initiative, with 300,000 pupils expected to benefit from the scheme.
In an MOU signing ceremony to flag off the initiative at the weekend in Lagos, Airtel said it had completed the process of providing free access to the two digital platforms for the targeted beneficiaries, as it has committed $1.3 million worth of complimentary data for the two platforms and data provision for learners in the year alone.
It was gathered that in the first year of the five-year partnership, Airtel would provide all the resources for digital learning to the 620 identified schools, including reliable broadband connectivity, tablets, and free access to a world-class curriculum through the Nigeria Learning Passport (NLP).
NLP, developed by the Federal Ministry of Education, UNICEF and Microsoft, is an e-learning platform with online and offline capabilities that enables continuous access to quality education, Airtel’s support will benefit students with uninterrupted access to quality learning materials.
The leading GSM provider is also providing free access for any Airtel subscriber to Youth Agency Market Place (YOMA), a UNICEF digital platform for skilling, upskilling and encouraging young people’s engagement.
Currently, YOMA has 115,000 users in Nigeria. This number is expected to grow with Airtel support, especially for young people living in hard-to-reach areas with no to low access to data or connectivity.
“Education, especially digital learning, forms a significant part of the company’s sustainability agenda for Nigeria, and it will stop at nothing to bridge the huge digital gap that currently exists in mostly rural primary schools across the country,” the chief executive of Airtel Nigeria, Mr Surendran Chemmenkotil, said at the unveiling of the campaign.
Speaking further, he said, “With this programme and partnership, we are providing both world-class education and digital inclusion for thousands of underprivileged children, and our goal is to connect, empower and transform as many children and young people as possible.
“Education is power, and connectivity provides the leverage to become unstoppable. At Airtel, we are confident that this investment will not just transform lives but will create a wonderful future for millions of Nigerian children and young people.”
“This is an important milestone and a step closer to reducing the digital divide in Nigeria. Quality digital learning is the fastest route to improving learning and equipping children and young people with the 21st-century skills needed to fulfil their potential and live their dreams.
“We are delighted that Airtel Nigeria shares UNICEF’s vision and will help in driving the process to scale-up access to digital learning for children and young people across these schools,” UNICEF’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, said.
The Re-imagine education project is a five-year partnership between Airtel and UNICEF to help accelerate the roll-out of digital learning by connecting schools to the internet and ensuring free access to learning platforms across 13 countries. By providing equal access to quality digital learning, particularly for the most vulnerable children, the partnership will help to ensure that every child reaches his/her full potential.
Airtel to Accelerate Digital Learning for Nigerian Children
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Nigerian children have been reassured of the commitment of Airtel Nigeria to accelerating digital learning in the country.
As part of activities to commemorate World Children’s Day, the telecommunications service provider partnered with UNICEF to host Augusta Anuguo (Esther), the differently abled child star featured in Airtel’s latest TVC, Esther.
During the ceremony at the Airtel headquarters in Ikoyi, Lagos, Miss Anuguo had the rare privilege to function in the capacity of Airtel Nigeria’s CEO and MD, Mr Surendran Chemmenkotil, as she emerged CEO for the day.
Using this privilege and executive powers as CEO, she remarkably led an advocacy campaign for Nigerian children, especially the differently abled, as she signed a policy for Airtel Nigeria to continue to pursue opportunities that will accelerate digital learning for all children in the country, regardless of ethnicity, location, or ability.
Impressed with her performance, Mr Chemmenkotil awarded the sum of N1.5 million to Miss Anuguo to support her education and her advocacy for Nigerian children as a key influencer.
“I am also happy to offer Miss Anuguo a scholarship of N1.5 million to support her education. This gesture is to encourage her to continue her advocacy for differently abled children as she champions their cause as a key influencer. Thank you for all you do, Anuguo,” he said.
The Airtel Nigeria boss also stated that, “Airtel Nigeria joins UNICEF and the entire world to mark World Children’s Day. As a company, Airtel is committed to Nigerian children and will continue to support initiatives that will create a better future for all children.
“We are happy to mark this day with Esther as well as all Nigerian children, and we shall continue to support platforms and initiatives that will lead to a better future for all children in our dear country, Nigeria.”
World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide and improve children’s welfare.
Egbeyinka Elizabeth Shines at 8th Glorious Vision University Convocation
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A student of the Department of Chemical Science of Glorious Vision University (GVU), Ogwa, Edo State, Miss Egbeyinka Elizabeth, was the cynosure of all eyes at the institution’s 8th convocation ceremony held recently.
Miss Egbeyinka emerged as the best graduating student with a 4.82 Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA), sweeping several awards and cash gifts at the event.
Business Post gathered that the brilliant student went home with the Vice-Chancellor prize for Overall Best Student, TACN Remo Area prize for Best Graduating TACN Member Student, and Departmental prize for Best Student in the Department of Chemical Sciences.
She also won Professor (Mrs) May Foluso Ogbe prize for Overall Best Graduating Female Student, Professor (Mrs) Olusola Omueti prize for Overall Best Graduating Student in Bio-Chemistry, Deaconess (Dr) P. A. Akpan prize to the Best Graduating Science Student, and Dean, COLBAS prize for Best Student in the College of Humanities.
At the programme, Miss Egbeyemi was commended for her brilliance and charged to continue to be a good ambassador of the institution by imbibing the knowledge she has acquired from the school.
In his speech at the convocation, the Visitor and Chancellor of Glorious Vision University, Pastor Emmanuel Segun Awojide, congratulated the graduating students, saying the accomplishment was worth celebrating.
He also tasked Nigerians to keep praying for the country, especially as the nation prepares for the general elections in 2023, stating that Nigeria, especially the church, is in dire need of the right leaders to steer the ship of the country to the Promised Land.
The cleric, who doubles as the National Vice President and LAWNA Territorial Chairman of The Apostolic Church Nigeria (TACN), emphasised that Nigerians must cry out to God, who he said owns Nigeria.
The man of God, represented by the Vice Chairman of LAWNA Territory, Pastor Okpako Uyeh, also used the occasion to thank members of the church for supporting GVU, which used to be known as Samuel Adegboyega University (SAU).
“Let me thank all sponsors and members of The Apostolic Church Nigeria LAWNA Territory for their overwhelming support to the growth and development of the Glorious Vision University despite the current economic hardship in the country. This sacrifice will not go unrewarded in Jesus’ name,” Pastor Awojide, who is also the National Chairman of the Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN), stated.
A total of 100 students graduated with various degrees at the 2022 convocation attended by several persons. The school, established by TACN, awarded diploma degrees to three students, first degrees to 94 students and second degrees to four students.
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