By Dipo Olowookere
The decision of the Oyo State government to improve the quality of basic education in the state has excited members of the House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services.
The state government under Governor Seyi Makinde has invested in improving the quality of education in the state, including building modern classrooms and providing textbooks for the pupils.
Recently, the House committee members were in Oyo State and they expressed satisfaction with the standard and quality of projects executed in the state.
The deputy chairman of the committee, Mr Usman Zanna, said that the state under Mr Makinde has lived up to its name of a Pace Setter by surpassing all expectations.
The lawmaker, who led a delegation of the team to the state on oversight visit to inspect and assess the level of utilisation of federal government matching grant released to the state to develop basic education infrastructure, said only Oyo State has paid part of counterpart funding in 2021, adding that this attests to the state government’s commitment to the improvement of education in Oyo state.
Receiving the delegation at the State Executive chamber, the Oyo State Deputy Governor, Mr Rauf Olaniyan, said the education drive of Oyo state government was responsible for the drastic reduction in the number of out of school children in the state, stressing that his administration takes education as a major priority.
The Deputy Governor stated that one of the cardinal points of this administration is education, adding that the state hopes to regain its pace-setting status by ranking first in WAEC examination before the administration runs out in 2023.
He said the state government was committed to infrastructural development and capacity building for schools in Oyo State and will do all possible including, payment of counterpart funds and cordial relationship with the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to improve the state of education in the state.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Chairman, Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board, Mr Nureni Adeniran, said the team has inspected the projects embarked upon by the state government in collaboration with UBEC and are satisfied with the level of work done.
The chairman revealed that the Oyo State government has paid the backlog of counterpart funding to UBEC and has paid all required funding including counterpart funds for 2020/2021 Intervention projects.
Mr Nureni enjoined the committee to facilitate the release of funds and all other necessary donations due to Oyo state from UBEC, including the yet-to-be assessed $3 million advance funds for Better Education Service Delivery, a World Bank-assisted loan.
Fenwa Community School Gets Government Attention
By Dipo Olowookere
The learning environment at St. John’s Primary School, situated in the remote Fenwa Community, Ido Local Government, Ibadan, Oyo State will soon improve.
This is because the school will benefit from the Oyo State Government’s 2020 UBEC/SUBEB Intervention projects.
The Executive Chairman of the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr Nureni Aderemi Adeniran, disclosed that the school’s infrastructure, beauty and learning environment will improve.
Speaking when he paid an on-the-spot visit to the school, after a hint on the social media, Mr Aderemi noted that the facelift is one of the proactive steps of the Oyo State Government in revamping the education sector.
He said the Oyo State Government will not rest on its oars until it delivers all its promises to provide world-class education to all pupils in the State.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges we are facing in the Nation, Oyo State Government under the leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde will ensure it delivers its promises to provide world-class education, training and care for everyone, whatever their background,” he said.
While Mr Adeniran promised renovation of the existing block of classrooms in the school, he also hinted that the school would receive a block of three classrooms, borehole, furniture and toilet facilities in the 2020 intervention project which will commence very soon.
He said schools like St. John’s Primary School with dilapidated structures are scattered across local governments, but they are priorities to the government, adding that Mr Makinde led government wishes to cater for all the 2,457 schools in Oyo State.
Mr Adeniran, therefore, called on members of the public to formally nudge the state government through the board on structures that need urgent attention, rather than casting aspersions on the state government or its MDAs.
“This is part of our urgent interventions in the basic education sector. We did something like this at a public school in Oluyole Local Government, which has been abandoned for years,” he said.
Russia Records Low Turnout of African Students in 2020
By Kester Kenn Klomegah
As federal government scholarships are highly limited, Russia’s educational institutions are ready to train more and more specialists on a tuition-paying basis for Africa.
There are plans to boost the number of African students, but currently, approximately 60% of the total African students are on private contracts in the Russian Federation.
“The present and the future of Russia-Africa relations is not about charity, it’s about co-development,” stated Evgeny Primakov, Head of the Russian Federal Agency for International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo), and also a member of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum.
The Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum was created last year and it works under the Russian Foreign Ministry. It has, under its aegis, three coordination councils namely business, public and scientific councils. Primakov heads the humanitarian council that deals with education and humanitarian questions for the Foreign Ministry.
While talking about initiatives especially the sphere of education in the relationship between Russia and Africa, Primakov explicitly pointed the changing state of affairs in education and added that the number of Russian state scholarships for African citizens – for the whole continent made up of 54 African countries – has only increased from 1765 in 2019 to 1843 in 2020. At the same time, the number of applications submitted has decreased.
According to Primakov, due to the coronavirus outbreak, some African governments have decided not to launch the application campaign for Russian universities for the academic year 2020/2021 as there are difficulties with transportation, safety, and financing scholarships allocated in the African state’s budget.
He, further, mentioned that the Russian system of higher education needs to be adapted to the new realities so that it could gain more value on the international market.
Reports made available indicate that the Russian Federal Agency for International Humanitarian Cooperation currently operates eight representative offices in Africa: Egypt, Zambia, Morocco, Republic of the Congo, Tunisia, Tanzania, Ethiopia and South Africa.
During Russia-Africa inter-party conference held in late March 2021, under the theme “Russia – Africa: Reviving Traditions” which was organized and hosted by the United Russia Party, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered an assuring signal in his speech that Russia is stepping up efforts to engage in multifaceted developments with Africa.
That Russia has a lot to offer to African countries in terms of mutually beneficial cooperation as it traditionally maintains very close relations with many of these countries in the continent.
Lavrov told the online gathering “in the past few years, Russia-Africa cooperation has been noticeably stepped up. We are deepening our political dialogue, developing inter-parliamentary ties, promoting cooperation between ministries and departments and expanding scientific and humanitarian exchanges.”
With the education and training of specialists for Africa, Lavrov said that “over 27,000 African students study in Russian universities.” Understandably, this represents a significant increase of 9,000 students, up from approximate 18,000 as the given figure in October 2019.
Just about four or five months after the first Russia-Africa summit, World Health Organization(WHO) declared a coronavirus pandemic, nearly all countries locked down and civilian (passenger) air transport or aviation links completely paralyzed throughout 2020.
Statistics on African students are, in fact, still staggering. When contacted, Russia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education declined to give the current substantive figure for Africa.
In a transcript posted to the official website, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answering questions at a meeting with the students and staff of Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) University, in September 2019, nearly two months before the Sochi summit, pointed out that there were 15,000 Africans studying in Russia, and about a third (that is 5,000) of them had received scholarships provided by the Russian state.
That same year during the inter-parliamentary conference, Chairman of the State Duma, Viacheslav Volodin, was convinced that cultural and educational cooperation could be equally important areas that needed to be developed and intensified in Russian-African relations.
Volodin further suggested to continue discussing the issues of harmonizing legislation in the scientific and educational spheres and reminded us that hundreds of thousands of African students studied in the Soviet Union and Russia and that approximately 17,000 African students, the majority of them on private contracts, were studying in the Russian Federation.
On June 21, 2019, Dmitry Medvedev spoke at the opening of the 26th annual shareholders’ meeting of the African Export-Import Bank. One of the aspects of the relationships, he mentioned educational projects as particularly important and informed that 17,000 African students are studying in Russia, but hope that this figure will increase in future.
“Friends, of course, we can achieve more in all areas. We simply need to know each other better and be more open to one another,” he stressed in his speech.
In addition to the above, Professor Vladimir Filippov, Rector of the Russian University of People’s Friendship (RUDN), formerly Patrice Lumumba Friendship University, has underscored the fact that social attitudes toward foreigners first have to change positively, the need to create a multicultural learning environment, then the need to expand and deepen scientific ties between Russia and Africa.
Established in 1960 to provide higher education to Third World students, it later became an integral part of the Soviet cultural offensive in non-aligned countries. His university has gained international popularity as an educational and research institution located in southwest Moscow.
In order to earn revenue, Russia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education has already launched a large-scale educational campaign abroad targeting to recruit private foreign students on tuition-paying contract annually into its educational institutions across the Russian Federation.
Experts from the Moscow based Center for Strategic Research indicated in an interview with this foreign correspondent that the percentage of Russian universities on the world market is considerably low. Due to this, there is a rare need to develop Russian education export opportunities, take progressive measures to raise interest in Russian education among foreigners.
As part of the renewed interest in Africa, Russia has been working on opportunities and diverse ways to increase the number of students, especially tuition-paying agreements for children of the growing elite families and middle-class from African countries at Russian universities.
Worth recalling that Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his greetings to all African leaders and participants of the first Russia-Africa Summit published on the Kremlin website in October that year, that the summit would help identify new areas and forms of cooperation, put forward promising joint initiatives. Further hoped it would bring the collaboration between Russia and Africa to a qualitatively new level and contribute to the development of our economies and the prosperity for both parties.
Later at the plenary session, Putin reiterated that by the mid-1980s, Russia had built about a hundred educational establishments in Africa and half a million Africans have been trained for work at industrial companies and agricultural facilities in African countries. And that 17,000 Africans, including some 4,000 who on federal scholarships, were studying here in the Russian Federation.
It is worthy to say that Putin specifically noted the good dynamics of specialist training and education in Russian educational institutions for African countries. Russian and African participants mapped out broad initiatives in the sphere of education during the first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi.
For the joint work, there was a final joint declaration, adopted by the participants after the Sochi summit. The document outlines a set of goals and objectives for the further development of Russian-African cooperation. The next Russia-Africa Summit, venue to be decided by African leaders, is planned for 2022.
Rector Tasks New Students to Adhere to LASPOTECH Dress Code
By Ahmed Rahma
The newly admitted 2,000 students have been tasked by the management of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) to strictly adhere to the dress code of the institution.
The new students were admitted into part-time programmes of the school and during their matriculation, last Saturday in Ikorodu, the permanent site, the Rector, Dr Oluremi Olaleye, said the institution will not tolerate the abuse of LASPOTECH dress code and rules.
“It is important to inform you that the institution is guided by rules and regulations; as students, it is in your best interest to obey the rules and be guided by the regulations,” Mr Olaleye, the 11th Rector of LASPOTECH, said.
“The polytechnic has a dress code which applies to all students, I urge all students to dress decently because you are addressed the way you dress.
“I need to inform you that LASPOTECH is running with a vision to be a polytechnic of excellence offering world-class educational services.
“To actualise this laudable dream, the entire polytechnic workforce, as well as the students, must key into the shared value of professionalism, excellence, commitment, dedication, and so on,” he added.
The Rector said that the polytechnic prioritised staff and students’ welfare, academic excellence, and entrepreneurship skill acquisition.
“Students’ academic welfare is our primary concern.
“We must ensure that the environment is conducive for you to learn and come out in flying colours,” Mr Olaleye said.
He, however, implored the fresh students to see their admission into this institution as a rare opportunity to prepare them for greater heights.
“LASPOTECH takes the conduct of examinations seriously [and] I encourage you to carefully read all regulations guiding the conduct of examinations and shun malpractices.
“As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, we are doing our best to prevent the spread by providing necessary equipment,” he added.
ASR Africa Initiative Donates N1bn to Ahmadu Bello University
By Ahmed Rahma
The sum of N1 billion has been donated to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, by the Abdul Samad Rabiu (ASR) Africa Initiative.
The ASR Africa Initiative was floated by a Nigerian industrialist and philanthropist, Mr Abdul Samad Rabiu, who is the Chairman of BUA Group, the parent company of BUA Cement Plc and others.
The N1 billion disbursed to the school is part of the yearly $100 million ASR Africa Fund for Social Development and Renewal.
Recently, the ASR Africa Initiative for Education, Health and Social Development in Africa was launched and some schools were named as beneficiaries of the first cohort of the N1 billion intervention grant.
The institutions are the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Maiduguri; University of Ilorin; University of Ibadan, and the University of Benin.
Speaking at the ceremony in Zaria, Mr Rabiu, who was represented by Dr Aliyu Idi Hong, commended the Vice-Chancellor for promptly identifying the projects that needed intervention.
He said, “In view of this and starting immediately, we intend to be on the ground to commence the project. We are hoping the other five universities can also quickly identify such projects with our team to fast-track the project initiation.”
“It is our belief at the ASR Africa Initiative that this support will go a long way in bridging the infrastructure deficit in education within Nigeria and other African Countries in our cohort. We are excited about the endless possibilities that lie ahead of Africa and because The Time for Nigeria and Africa is now, and business development is nothing without citizens’ development.”
“On behalf of the ASR Africa Initiative, we look forward to commencing the work to build for the benefit of Africa’s children and her future”. Mr Rabiu added.
Bill to Establish College of Education in Abia Passes Second Reading
By Adedapo Adesanya
A Bill for an Act to establish Federal College of Education, Bende in Abia has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.
The bill, which seeks to provide full-time courses, training in technology, applied sciences, commerce, social sciences, arts and humanities, among others, was sponsored by Mr Benjamin Kalu at Thursday’s plenary session.
The bill was read for the first time in the lower chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, and was only revisited yesterday.
Leading the debate, Mr Kalu said that the importance of education in society cannot be overemphasized, saying that education was important for a happy and stable life, for better income and livelihood and for social equality.
According to him, education makes a person self-dependent, turns dreams into reality and makes the world a better and safer place.
On the location, Mr Kalu said Bende Local Government Area of Abia is the single oldest and largest Local Government Area in the South-East geo-political zone.
“Bende has remained undivided since its creation in 1976, even though with the size of four Local Government Areas as found in comparative federal constituencies.
“Despite its strategic location in Abia and sharing a border with Akwa Ibom, with a growing population and landmass, there is no tertiary institution in the Federal Constituency operated either by the federal or state government.
“Bende deserves to have the presence of a tertiary institution to serve the education need of the teeming youthful population, especially now that the need for well-trained educationists has risen.
“This is accompanied by the need to fill the gaps created by both the consequences of brain drain and the lack of qualified educationists to provide quality training at all levels of education,” he said.
In his remarks, the Speaker of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, referred the bill to the House Committee on Tertiary Education for further legislative actions.
This is not the only education-centred bill at the parliament as there was a Bill for an Act to establish Federal College of Agriculture, Ishiagu, Ebonyi, which also passed second reading in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The bill, which was also sponsored by Mr Kalu, seeks to ensure the adoption of agricultural techniques, enhance research and development in agriculture.
“It will also serve as a catalyst for effective agricultural education system through training, research and innovation, for effective economic utilisation and conservation of the country’s human and material resources.
“It will identify the modern agricultural education needs of the society with a view to finding solutions in the interest of national development,” he said.
JAMB Makes NIN Compulsory for 2021 UTME Registration
By Ahmed Rahma
The Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) has stated that potential candidates who want to register for the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry (DE) must provide National Identity Number (NIN) at the point of registration.
The board also informed that UTME registration has commenced and that the examination is set for June 5, 2021.
In a statement issued on Wednesday in Bwari, FCT, by its Head of Public Affairs and Protocols, Dr Fabian Benjamin, it was disclosed that, “This (NIN) is mandatory for participation in the 2021 registration exercise.”
Mr Benjamin also noted that the UTME registration will take place in 700 centres across the country; stating that the list is available in all the state offices of JAMB and on its website at www.jamb.gov.ng.
“The approved schedule for registration and examination is that registration exercise will start on Thursday, April 8 and end on Saturday, May 15, 2021,” he further said in the statement.
“Candidates are also to note that the registration for Direct Entry applicants will run concurrently with that of UTME candidates.
“There will be no extension of time for the sale of the UTME or DE application documents.
“Mock examination will be held on Friday, April 30 for those who indicate interest and are registered before April 24.
“UTME will hold from Saturday, June 5 to Saturday, June 19, 2021,” he added.
The statement stressed that venues of the examination would be at any of the centres in the candidate’s chosen examination town.
It also added that the registration fee for the 2021 application documents remained N3, 500 and N500 for recommended Reading Text.
According to the statement, further information regarding the registration processes and requirements would be made available on JAMB’s official website and also advertised in the electronic and print media from April 5.
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