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LAUTECH Will be Envy of Other Nigerian Universities—Aregbesola Boasts

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By Dipo Olowookere

Governor of Oyo State, Mr Abiola Ajimobi and his Osun State counterpart, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, have lamented the non-resumption of academic activities at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, in spite of their spirited efforts to restore normalcy.

The owner-states governors bared their minds during the submission of the report of the Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN)-led visitation panel, set up over the crisis rocking the university, at the Governor’s Office, Ibadan, on Friday.

Also at the event were the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the institution’s Governing Council, Prof. Wale Omole; Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adeniyi Gbadegesin, and others members of the governing council and the visitation panel.

The panel was set up in October, last year, to chart a fresh path forward for the institution, which had been thrown into crisis for more than eight months due to the industrial action embarked upon by its academic and non-academic staff.

Although the school was reopened by the management on January 27 following the injection of over half a billion naira by Oyo and Osun States, the institution’s branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had refused to return to classes citing unresolved issues with the management.

Mr Ajimobi commended the panel for what he called a thorough and in-depth job done, assuring the panel of full implementation of the recommendations.

He, however, harped on the need for the collaboration of corporate bodies and individuals to set up a trust fund for the funding of the institution giving the pervading reality of paucity of funds in the country.

The Governor said, “Awolowo was a realist and he saw the need to finance education while alive. He also had the resources to apply to the vision then and we all benefitted from his gesture. Today, oil revenue, which is the mainstay of sustaining education funding through federal allocation, had dropped.

“Oyo State that used to get N5.2billion as monthly allocation now gets as low as N2.5billion and we have to pay salaries of workers and finance social infrastructure. How do we survive that without looking inward?

“The reality on the ground requires that we look at different ways of doing things. There is need for repositioning of the university, especially on the structure. The non-resumption of academic activities after our (governors) efforts is worrying.

“LAUTECH should be the flagship of the South-West. There is nothing wrong in the whole South-West states buying into the ownership, relying on the internally-generated revenue from the school alone cannot help.”

On his part, Mr Aregbesola said the whole crisis was regrettable, but inevitable having been allegedly brought about by a sharp drop in the states’ financial power, occasioned by the crash of petroleum price in the world market.

He disclosed that the next assignment would be to set up a Technical Implementation Committee that would draw up a white paper from the report of the visitation panel.

Mr Aregbesola said, “The whole situation is regrettable, but I’m of the opinion that the academic staff and students of the university are not unaware of the present financial challenges facing the states, which culminated from the drop in our monthly federal allocation.

“We are happy the panel has done a marvellous job and the next step is for the two states to put up a technical implementation committee that would work on a white paper from the visitation panel’s report.”

The chairman of the panel said the panacea to the crisis bedevilling the academic institution was the establishment of a trust fund and strategic funding by the owner-states governments in the form of subvention.

Mr Olanipekun said it was a well-known fact that throughout the world, funding of university education did not rest squarely on government, but with support from corporate individuals and bodies in the form of trust fund.

He said, “Government alone is incapable of funding university education. Talk of great universities all over the world, you will talk of Harvard. The budget of Harvard University is more than that of Nigeria.

“How did they come about this? It is through trust fund and we are also recommending same as a solution to the funding crisis of LAUTECH. Maybe Nigerian universities would start to learn from LAUTECH if our recommendations are implemented.

“But, we are recommending that for now the university need money; the immediate thing is for the university to reopen. It has been out of session for eight months.

“Therefore, we are recommending that for now, the university must be given some subvention for it to reopen in the short term and after that the implementation of the other steps and recommendations could be also followed.”

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Education

Kwara Indefinitely Shuts 10 Schools as Hijab Crisis Worsens

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kwara state map

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The 10 public schools closed down in Kwara State by the state government will remain shut indefinitely, a statement from the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development has said.

The schools were shut down some days ago over a dispute on the use of hijab, a covering used by female Muslims, in some Christian schools.

The state government had asked the teachers, students and workers of the affected institutions to remain at home until Monday, March 8, 2021.

However, despite efforts made to resolve the issue amicably, the crisis is deepening, forcing the government to order the closure of the indefinitely.

The affected schools include C&S College, Sabo Oke; ST. Anthony College, Offa Road; ECWA School, Oja Iya; Surulere Baptist Secondary School; and Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam.

Others are CAC Secondary School, Asa Dam road; St. Barnabas Secondary School, Sabo Oke; St. John School Maraba; St. Williams Secondary School, Taiwo Isale; and St. James Secondary School Maraba.

Last week, the Secretary to the Kwara State Government, Prof Mamma Sabah Jibril, said in a statement that it has authorised the use of the Hijab in schools.

It explained that this was after consultations with the relevant stakeholders in the state, including leaders of both Muslim and Christian communities, noting that every Muslim schoolgirl has the right to put on the veil.

This did not go down well with the Christian schools, which maintained that they would not allow the use of hijab in their premises.

Worried by this, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said in the statement that the 10 government schools where the use of hijab is disputed will remain shut until a later date.

She said the decision was taken for safety reasons, noting that “the government remains committed to fairness, pluralism, and respect for the law and rights of every citizen at all times.”

Mrs Adeosun maintained that “schoolchildren and teachers in the affected schools [are] to remain at home until the contrary is announced.”

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Education

USAID Shares Textbooks to Public Schools in Oyo to Boost Reading Skills

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USAID Oyo Textbook reading skills

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

In order to improve the reading skills of children in Oyo State, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has distributed textbooks in public schools.

The agency hopes to disburse over 10,000 textbooks to nearly 2, 450 public schools in the state.

At the ceremony held last Friday at the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board (Oyo SUBEB), the USAID Northern Education Initiative Plus Chief of Party, Mr Nurudeen Lawal, handed over copies of Yoruba Early Grade Reading materials Je Ka Kawe to the Executive Chairman of Oyo SUBEB, Mr Dr. Nureni Adeniran.

The executive chairman said the Oyo State Government remains committed to investing in the future of children in public schools through education.

He thanked the United States Government for being a worthy partner in the Mr Seyi Makinde-led administration’s vision to ensure all children learn to read and write fluently, especially in their mother tongue.

“Every child deserves quality basic education and we thank The United States, who we believe is a proud partner with the Oyo State Government.

“They have invested in the future of our children who will grow to make a positive contribution in their communities,” he said.

Mr Adeniran said the Oyo State Government from inception was committed to increase budget allocations to improve basic education, adding that this has also yielded in USAID providing technical assistance and support to the State.

He promised that the state government would reach its goal of improved education for children and more effective and efficient management of the entire education system.

Speaking earlier, the leader of USAID delegation, Nurudeen Lawal said the agency was committed to ridding African nations of out-of-school-children, and to ensure they access education.

He noted that the importance of the mother-tongue cannot be over flogged, hence the mass production of Je ka kawe which he noted will boost the literacy level of children and youths.

Mr Lawal revealed that the success of Let’s Read and Mu Karanta in the Northern part of Nigeria inspired the initiative for Je ka kawe for South Western Nigeria and Ka Anyi Guo for South Eastern Nigeria.

He added that the development of Je ka kawe was premised on the language provisions in the National Policy on Education, that the mother-tongue of the immediate community should be the medium of instruction at the lower primary level of education.

The Chief of Party said the initiative seeks to reach 1.6 million children in grades P 1-3, along with more than 500,000 out-of-school-chil­dren and youth attending some community learning centres.

“The program will train and equip teachers and learning facilitators who can reach children in schools and non-formal learning centres,” he said.

The books were developed by Language Experts with the support of local professionals from the Board. It contains stories and pictures that promote positive social values, written in Yoruba language for Primary 1, 2 and 3.

The event was witnessed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Aminat Atere, Directors from the Ministry; Representatives of Nigeria Union of Teachers; Association of Primary Schools Head Teachers of Nigeria; Reading Advisors from USAID among other stakeholders.

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Education

Non-Teaching Workers of Universities Suspend Strike

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NASU strike

By Ahmed Rahma

The leadership of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of non-teaching staff unions of universities has announced the suspension of its three-week-old strike with effect from midnight of Friday, February 26.

The General Secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of the Universities (NASU), Mr Peters Adeyemi, confirmed this development while addressing newsmen at the end of a conciliatory meeting with the federal government on Thursday in Abuja.

Mr Adeyemi said the union agreed to suspend the national strike after extracting some concessions from the national government that had to do with the grievances it presented.

“We have eight items which we negotiated and which form the basis for our ongoing national strike in the universities.

“We have held the meeting with the government side and those areas that needed to be harmonised have been done to the satisfaction of both parties and resulting from that development.

“We have agreed that the ongoing national strike in universities and inter universities centres should be suspended with effect from 12 midnight, Friday, February 26, 2021.

“We use this opportunity to appreciate our members for their commitment to this struggles, this strike is hereby suspended,” he said.

Mr Adeyemi stated that the unions would continue to monitor the agreements that had been reached that had a timeline and hoped that the government would implement its own side of the bargain.

According to him, if the government doesn’t, they will call their members to resume the suspended strike, but for now, the strike is suspended.

Earlier, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, said the meeting was very fruitful as all the rough edges arising from the former negotiations had been smoothened.

“Today’s deliberations have been very fruitful; we have also issued a conciliation document called Joint Action Memorandum of Action (MoA), and the two unions will get back to their members today and in good faith.

“So, we keep our fingers crossed, believing that their communications with their union members will be as quick and swift as they have promised us.

“This is more so, as the government is desirous that normal activities should return to the University system so that we can take the action one after the other.

“Also with the normalcy restored in the university system, we intend to do the visitation panel which is one of the agreements reached with them and which cannot be carried out without normalcy in the university system,” Mr Ngige said.

JAC non-teaching staff comprises the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and NASU.

The unions demand included rectifying inconsistencies in the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS), non-payment of arrears of minimum wage, delay in renegotiation with government, NASU and SSANU 2009 agreement, among others.

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Education

Kwara Approves Use of Hijab in Public Schools

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Kwara schools Hijab

By Dipo Olowookere

The Kwara State government has approved the use of the Hijab, a veil worn by female Muslims, in public schools in the state.

In a statement issued on Thursday by the Secretary to the Kwara State Government, Prof Mamma Sabah Jibril, it was emphasised that every Muslim schoolgirl has the right to put on the veil.

The government said it authorised the use of the Hijab in schools after consultations with the relevant stakeholders in the state, including leaders of both Muslim and Christian communities.

Recently, tensions were high over the use of the covering in some schools in the predominantly Muslim state. This led to the closure of 10 schools in the state to calm nerves.

Announcing the position of the Kwara State government on the Hijab controversy yesterday, Prof Sabah said any willing schoolgirl is permitted to wear Hijab, but emphasised that an approved type of the religious clothing would be designed and unveiled.

“The government hereby acknowledges and approves the right of the Muslim schoolgirl to wear the hijab, and directs the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development to come up with a uniform hijab for all public/ grant-aided schools, which will be the accepted mode of head covering in schools.

“Any willing schoolgirl with the approved (uniform) hijab shall have the right to wear same in public/grant-aided schools.

“Also, the government affirms the right of every child in public schools to freedom of worship,” the SSG said in the statement.

The Kwara State government, which said “there is no victor or vanquished on the Hijab question,” urged the “two faith communities, especially the leaders, opinion moulders and media personalities to act with restraint and great responsibility in their public utterances and actions, and continue to live in peace and harmony with one another.”

“The government commends all the thought and religious leaders on both sides for their forbearance, understanding and commitment to peace,” it added.

The state government, thereafter, directed that the 10 schools shut a few days ago to reopen and resume classes from Monday, March 8, 2021.

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Education

LASU Declares New VC Selection Process Credible

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LASU Lagos State University

By Ahmed Rahma

The management of the Lagos State University (LASU) has declared that the ongoing process of selecting a substantive Vice-Chancellor for the institution is credible and warned against attempts by some people to discredit the process.

This  was disclosed in a statement on Wednesday by the Coordinator, Centre for Information Press and Public Relations (CIPPR), Mr Ademola Adekoya.

“Our attention has been drawn to a viral video by one @Baloguneko making the rounds on the social media, where he accused the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of the University, Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo, of attempting to manipulate the ongoing selection process of the next Vice-Chancellor of the University, purportedly to favour some candidates and shortchange others.

“Before now, we have maintained a deliberate silence on the various media reports and propaganda that have greeted the first, and the currently ongoing selection process in order to avoid joining issues with those seeking to, and by all means, rubbish the process, in order to achieve their personal gains.

“But after critically assessing the latest video, and aware of the damage the misinformation it contains could cause to the good name of the university, we are compelled to provide some clarifications,” the statement read.

It further stated that, “First, the Council Chairman, Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo, does not have any grouse with a particular candidate and regardless of his personal preferences, cannot unilaterally determine who applies for, is shortlisted for, or is eventually appointed as the next Vice-Chancellor of the University, as @Baloguneko alleged.

“For the avoidance of doubt, a committee, headed by the Chairman Council, made up of representatives of the council and the Senate of the university, is only responsible for shortlisting, screening and interviewing applicants for the position of Vice-Chancellor, in a transparent manner.

“The job of the selection committee, however, ends with recommending the names of the three best performing candidates to the Visitor (the Governor of the state) who has the prerogative to appoint *any of the three candidates recommended* to him.

“Second, the poster’s allegation that the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, attempted to foist a particular candidate on the university is untrue and very unfortunate. The poster again betrays a lack of knowledge of the process of appointment. No where in the LASU Laws is an incumbent (or former) VC empowered to decide his successor.

“Being a stickler for rule of law and due process, the immediate past VC consistently maintained his neutrality in the process of the appointment of the new Vice Chancellor. If he was not able to determine his successor while in office, one wonders how he would do that now that he is out of office.

“Finally, we must state that the process for the appointment of the 9th Substantive Vice Chancellor of the University has been very transparent and credible.

“We, therefore, urge all well-meaning stakeholders to resist any effort to undermine the ongoing selection process, but rather  continue to pray for the best candidate to emerge while supporting the University to attain her goal of becoming the best in the country.”

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Education

Gradely Rolls out Homegrown Learning Management System

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Gradely

By Adedapo Adesanya

A Nigerian education technology startup, Gradely, has unveiled a homegrown and virtual learning management system (LMS) for schools.

The startup, which has raised $150,000 in pre-seed funding from angel investors and venture capital firms such as Ventures Platform and Microtraction, has now launched its LMS, known as Gradely For Schools.

Gradely For Schools is a teacher-led LMS, built for personalised learning, with features such as live classes to organise and hold engaging class experiences, assessment tools to set up robust and relevant assessment formats fitted with the Nigerian and British curriculum-aligned question pool, a proctored examination system to hold credible remote academic evaluations, and a suite of personalised video lessons, practice quizzes and games library known as Gradely CatchUp! to support in-class efforts with students at home.

Speaking on the system in a recent interview with a tech-based platform, Disrupt Africa, Mr Boye Oshinaga noted that, “The personalisation works by having tonnes of assessment content mapped by topic and difficulty, and following the performance on adaptive tests, students are provided recommendations daily to catch up on weak areas.

“This leads to measurable improvement in student’s performance and a learning path that is unique to each child.

“It is possible to use Gradely at home as a standalone learning supplement or in conjunction with school, so that homework and class material can be viewed directly on the app as well. In this case, where the app is school-integrated, parents see a report that is the most representative source of truth of the child’s learning progress.”

So far, Gradely has been used by over 5,000 Nigerian parents and 200 schools as part of its beta testing, and it is now planning a wider rollout.

“We saw that while African schools had begun to adopt technology, they had not figured out how to leverage it to improve learning outcomes,” said Mr Oshinaga.

“Today, 200 million African students, many in private schools as well as public schools, are in school but not learning. This is nine out of every 10 students on the continent.”

As internet penetration and device access accelerate, however, Gradely believes every school and parent in Africa will require a digital learning environment that complements classroom education and gives students a leg up in future exams. Gradely is such a solution, and charges schools an annual per-student fee for LMS access and an additional fee for content access. It also charges parents a monthly subscription for content access as well as fees per live tutor session.

“We are currently making revenues from existing users.

“We are launching first in Nigeria but plan to expand region-by-region across Africa and potentially globally as the use-cases for a content-driven personalised learning platform are very scalable,” Mr Oshinaga added.

Founded in 2019 by Boye Oshinaga, Femi Ibiwoye, Seyi Adelaju and Babatunde Caleb, Gradely uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help parents and schools intervene in real-time to plug student learning gaps.

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