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Global Food Crisis Threatens Future of School Children—WFP

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global food crisis

By Adedapo Adesanya

School-aged children are bearing the brunt of today’s global food crisis with devastating consequences for their education and their ability to catch up on learning lost during COVID-19 closures.

This is a warning from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the African Union Development Agency (NEPAD), and other organisations working on education, including the Education Commission chaired by Mr Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

WFP estimates that the global food crisis has pushed an additional 23 million under-18s into acute food insecurity since the start of the year, taking the total of children now affected to 153 million. This represents nearly half of the 345 million people facing acute hunger, according to WFP data from 82 countries.

The global food crisis is threatening the futures of millions of school-aged children who have only just returned to classrooms following the Covid-19 pandemic. Emerging evidence points to unprecedented learning losses during the pandemic, which risks being further compounded by this current food crisis.

The World Bank estimates that the share of 10-year-olds in poorer developing countries unable to read or write has increased from 53 per cent to 75 per cent.

Speaking on the worrying development, Mr Brown said, “As every parent and teacher understands, hunger is one of the biggest barriers to effective learning – and the surge in hunger among school-age children now poses a real and present danger to a learning recovery. For children who are going hungry in their classrooms, we have a ready-made, cost-effective antidote – school meal programme. Let’s use it.”

Ahead of the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the Transforming Education Summit in New York, WFP and partners are calling for an ambitious plan of action to restore school meal programmes disrupted by the pandemic and expand their reach to an additional 73 million children. Detailed costing estimates for the plan suggest around $5.8 billion annually would be required.

The plan would supplement wider measures to combat child hunger, including an expansion of child and maternal health programmes, support for out-of-school children, and increased investment in safety nets. Hunger levels among the 250 million children now out of school are almost certainly higher than for those in school, the WFP warns.

On her part, Ms Carmen Burbano, Director of WFP’s School-based Programmes Division echoed that millions of children are living with the consequences of the mutually reinforcing food and learning crises.

“Yet the link between hunger and lost opportunities for learning needs to be more prominent on the international agenda – and school meal programs can help break that link. Not investing in school meals programs is perhaps one of the worst possible economic decisions governments and donors can make, especially now,” she noted.

School meal programmes have been touted among the largest and most effective social safety nets for school-aged children. They not only keep children, particularly girls, in school but help improve learning outcomes by providing better and more nutritious diets.

In addition, they also support local economies, create jobs and livelihoods in communities, and ultimately help break the links between hunger, an unsustainable food system, and the learning crisis.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Education

Telco Wants Robust Technology-Based Education System in Oyo

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Technology-Based Education System

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A Nigerian multinational telecommunications company, Globacom, has expressed its readiness to collaborate with the Oyo State government to create robust technology-based education system in the state.

The Regional Head of Public Sector Enterprise for Glo in Southwest, Mr Adewale Adiatu, said the company could provide its e-learning packages and school data packs to the state government for the use of pupils in the state.

“At Globacom, we believe education is key, and we have come to seek collaboration with your board on e-learning and other school starter packs for pupils,” he said when he visited the chairman of the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board, Mr Nureni Aderemi Adeniran, in Ibadan, the state capital.

“Globacom hopes the Board will utilize the science of learning we offer. We have E-learning packages and School data packs, where every pupil could attend classes remotely,” he added.

In his remarks, Mr Adeniran hinted that the Oyo State government places premium importance on expanding its education sector and increasing pupils’ access to quality education.

“In Oyo State, we recognise the need to expand our education sector through the contribution of the private sector. We are ready to work with you on encouraging learning in Oyo State, bearing in mind that our government is known for providing quality basic education. The Board will gladly partner with you or any other private organizations to increase our children’s access to education,” he said.

Mr Adeniran said the board was open to limitless opportunities driven by technology for the benefit of pupils and students in Oyo State, adding that the Board has ensured the provision of quality education at no cost to pupils in the State.

“However, we are still exploring more means to reach out to our children.

“We know the importance of expanding education and increasing access to basic education for our pupils. Therefore, we are open to innovative and creative ideas that will expand our Basic Education sector,” he concluded.

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Education

Court Orders ASUU to Call Off Seven-Month Strike

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ASUU Strike

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Industrial Court (NIC) has ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its ongoing strike.

Delivering a ruling on the interlocutory injunction filed by the federal government on Wednesday, Justice Polycarp Hamman restrained ASUU from continuing with the industrial action pending the determination of the suit.

Justice Hamman, who is a vacation judge, ordered that the case filed should be returned to the president of the industrial court for reassignment to another judge.

The judge further held that the industrial action was detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.

He said the Trade Dispute Act mandates workers not to embark on strike once an issue has been referred to the industrial court.

Justice Hamman also upheld the application of the federal government, saying it was meritorious and granted.

The court, therefore, restrained “ASUU, whether by themselves, members, agents, privies or howsoever called, from taking further steps and doing any act in continuance of the strike action pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed.”

The judge also refused to sanction the federal government as demanded by ASUU.

This order comes a few hours after the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) threatened not to allow any political campaign hold across the country till students of public universities return to classrooms.

ASUU has been on strike for the last seven months, precisely since February 14, to protest poor funding of education by the federal government, as well as demand for improved welfare conditions among others.

After several failed attempts to get the striking lecturers back to work while negotiations continue, the government opted for the current court action and prayed the court to compel ASUU to end the near seven-month-old strike in the interest of the nation and the Nigerian students who are suffering the most from the strike.

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Education

ASUU Strike: Reps Invite Finance Minister, Others for Clarification on UTAS/IPPIS Controversy

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UTAS Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has been invited by the House of Representatives along with other agencies of the federal government to clarify the disagreement over the use of a payment platform for university lecturers in the country.

The government had said it would pay the salaries of the teachers via the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) but members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) want the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), arguing that the platform captures the peculiarity of the university system.

The lecturers have been on strike over this issue and others since February 14, 2022. On Tuesday, the leadership of the House of Representatives, led by its Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, had a meeting with the leaders of ASUU led by Professor Emmanuel Osodeke to iron out some issues to resolve the matter.

Mr Gbajabiamila, while addressing journalists after a 4-hour meeting with the leadership of ASUU and the officials of the Ministry of Education led by the Minister of State for Education, Mr Goodluck Opiah, at the National Assembly in Abuja, noted that the Finance Minister is expected to brief the legislature on the issue of the deployment of the payment platform.

He said Mrs Ahmed would be required to appear on Thursday alongside the Accountant General of the Federation, the Auditor General of the Federation, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Chairman of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission.

The Speaker said after the meeting on Thursday, the House would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on his return from the 77th session of the United National General Assembly (UNGA) in New York to present the agreement reached with the striking workers.

Mr Gbajabiamila described the meeting on Tuesday as encouraging because some resolutions were reached.

The Speaker said as an independent arm of government, the meeting with the leadership of ASUU was meant to find a solution to the lingering labour dispute and the seven areas of their demands with the hope of resolving them, so the striking lecturers to go back to school.

According to him, the meeting enabled the House leadership to present the agreed demands to the President with the hope that the matter would be speedily brought to an end.

While thanking the labour leaders, Mr Gbajabiamila also expressed his conviction that the labour leaders would go back to their members and convince them of the need to buy into the solution with the House leadership to avoid undue delay in the resolution of the issue.

On his part, Prof. Osodeke thanked the Speaker and the leadership of the House for calling the meeting, which he said he hoped an amicable resolution would be reached after the lawmakers meet Mr Buhari later.

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