The Programme Manager, National Homegrown School Feeding Scheme in Anambra state, Mrs Eriken Uzoamaka, has lamented that pupils across public primary schools in the state were rejecting promotion to senior classes.
Uzoamaka, who explained that the class 3 pupils in public primary schools usually kick against promotion to primary 4 due to the menu being served them while in classes 1 – 3 every school working day, noted that efforts were on ground to solve the challenge.
She disclosed this at Awka, the Anambra state capital, after a two-day capacity building workshop on Enhancing Social Protection Programme in Nigeria, organised by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ).
“We serve rich food to pupils in classes 1 to 3 as captured in the national homegrown school feeding scheme. That is why even those that agree to be promoted usually come to their junior class (primary 3) especially on Wednesdays to struggle for food with others. We serve beans and plantains (or with sweet potatoes) that day,” she noted.
Uzoamaka also listed other challenges facing the programme in the state to include hike in prices of commodities and death of 10 cooks, which according to her has made it impossible for affected schools to benefit because new cooks were yet to be employed by the federal government.
The Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (KADSUBEB) says it has dismissed 2,357 teachers who failed the recently conducted competency test.
Its spokesperson, Hauwa Mohammed, in a statement on Sunday in Kaduna, said the board conducted a competency test for over 30,000 teachers in December 2021.
She said that 2,192 primary school teachers including the National President of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Audu Amba, had been dismissed for refusing to sit for the competency test.
She said that some 165 of the 27,662 teachers that sat for the competency test were also sacked for poor performances.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Kaduna government in 2018 sacked 21,780 teachers who failed a competency test, and replaced them with 25,000 others recruited through vigorous processes.
In December 2021, the board also sacked 233 teachers over alleged possession of fake certificates.
“Following the state government’s resolution for continued assessment of teachers to ensure better delivery of learning outcomes for pupils, KADSUBEB conducted another competency test for the teachers in December 2021.
“The services of teachers who scored below 40 per cent are no longer required and their appointments have been terminated from the Public Service for their poor performances.
“Teachers who scored 75 per cent and above were recognised as those who passed the test and qualified for attending courses in leadership and school management,” she said.
According to her, qualified teachers will be included in Teacher Professional Development (TPD) programmes to enhance their capacities to deliver quality teaching to pupils.
Ms Mohammed said teachers who scored between 40 and 74 per cent did not meet up with the minimum pass mark, adding that they would be given second chance to improve their capacities.
The board, she said, has initiated viable training programmes for teachers under its statutory TPD with support from the state government and development partners.
“The training programmes will be conducted during end of term vacation and in their respective schools, to minimise disruptions of teaching and learning.
“They are also encouraged to complement the government’s efforts and seek personal development for their own good.
“The board is assuring teachers and the public that it remains committed to ensuring their continuous professional development and the improvement of the learning outcomes of pupils and students,” she said.
Reacting, Ibrahim Dalhatu, State Chairman, NUT, dismissed the competency test and the sacking of the affected teachers as “illegal”.
Mr Dalhatu said the union had secured a court order restraining the board from conducting the competency test, adding, however, that it conducted the test without recourse to the rule of law.
He recalled that the union had asked the teachers not to write the examination after learning that the intent was to sack them.
“We warned that any teacher who participates in the illegal examination would not be protected by the union if victimised but some of the teachers went ahead to write the examination out of fear.
“We are not against the conduct of the competency test if due process is followed, but it should not be used as a basis for sacking teachers.
“The competency test should be used to determine teachers’ capacity gap and tailored specific training programmes to improve their capacities,” he said.
When contacted, the NUT National President said he was aware of the development, adding that the National Executive Council of the union would sit on Wednesday, June 22, to come up with a position.
Partnership to Engage Reform and Learn (PERL), on Tuesday lauded journalists in Kaduna State for the efforts in promoting girls education in the state.
State Team Lead of PERL, in Kaduna, Abel Adejo, gave the commendation at a meeting to review the implementation of strategies towards addressing barriers to girls education.
He said no program can pay media practitioners for the kind of work they do in making sure issues around girls education addressed.
Adejo, noted that the meeting was key following the commitments make by the media few months ago to ensure all barriers to girls education are brought to the fore and effectively addressed.
He urged the media not to relent in bringing forward issues affecting girls education and also ensure they remain at the forefront of projecting programs initiated by development partners so as to help sustain them when the programs end.
Enumerating the barriers to girls education, Martin Dangwa, in his presentation, said insecurity, socia-cultural, economic, infrastructure, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and access to school are the major barriers impeding girls education in Kaduna state.
“The persistent security challenge in the State, especially banditry and kidnapping remain a potential threat to children especially girls. Engagement of non-professional security personnel as school security increases vulnerability of learners to all kinds of harassment and harmful abuses, and the lack of parameter fences in rural and semi-urban schools makes learners and school infrastructure vulnerable to local criminals and vandals.
“Girls who are forced into marriage prematurely are likely to drop out of school. Child pregnancy: Girls who get pregnant are most likely to drop out of school because parents marry them off to avoid being shamed and stigmatised.
“High burden of domestic chores and the role of caring for siblings affects girls’ attendance in school poorly, heavy workload on girls at home also leads to failure and poor performance in school. While poor understanding of the benefits derived from investing in the girl-child due to parents’ exposure results in non-prioritisation of girl education.”
He added that toilet facilities in some schools are insufficient with only a few schools having separate toilets for girls and lack of portable water and essential learning and teaching materials and safe spaces for girls is also a major contributor to girls dropping out of school.
“Walking long distance to schools has been identified as a barrier. Children have to walk long and unsafe distances to get to schools.
“The practice of sexual harassment especially of the girl-child has continued to thrive without sanctions for violators. No continues teacher development and training on inclusive education practices and child protection policies in schools.” Dangwa said.
Provost Kaduna State College of Education, Gidan Waya, Professor Alexander Kure, has renewed call for the upgrade of the college to a degree awarding institution for improved productivity.
The provost made the call during an interactive session with newsmen in his office in Gidan Waya during the week.
Professor Kure explained that since the state government has placed emphasis on employing degree holders in its primary and secondary schools, it was necessary to upgrade the institution to reap from the pool of qualified teachers being produced.
He noted with dismay how federal and state lawmakers from Southern Kaduna extraction have abandoned the school which has been suffering from paucity of funds to improve the standard of learning, challenging them to rally round the college by lobbying for the upgrade of the institution as well as for more projects to be cited in the school.
He pointed out that the college is over 40 years without being upgraded, adding that similar colleges in other states had become degree awarding institutions after just 20 years of existence.
Speaking on intake of students in the college, Professor Kure lamented that the number had reduced considerably, not because the people do not desire to study in the college, but because of the increase in school fees.
He appealed to the state government to consider a review of the cost of school fees, considering that most parents find it difficult to pay because of their financial status.
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday called on the authorities in Nigeria to make schools safe and provide a secure learning environment for every child in Nigeria, especially for girls, to increase girls’ enrolment, retention, and completion of education.
This was contained in a statement released by its Communication Specialist, Samuel Kaalu, to mark the 8th Anniversary of the Abduction of 276 students at Government Girls’ Secondary School Chibok.
According to UNICEF, a total of 11, 536 schools were closed since December 2020 due to abductions and security issues and these school closures have impacted the education of approximately 1.3 million children in the 2020/21 academic year.
The statement said the interruption of learning contributes to gaps in children’s knowledge and skills and may lead to the loss of approximately 3.4 billion USD in these children’s lifetime earnings. This, risks to further perpetuate cycles of poverty and inequality.
It stated that “UNICEF, with generous funding from donors, is collaborating with the government of Nigeria to protect children’s right to education in a safe and inclusive learning environment. This involves building the capacity of School-based management committees (SBMCs) on school safety and security and strengthening community resilience”.
The UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said unsafe schools, occasioned by attacks on schools and abduction of students and the brutal violation of the rights of the victims to education, are totally unacceptable.
He stressed that attacks on learning institutions render the learning environment insecure and discourage parents and caregivers from sending their wards to schools, while the learners themselves become fearful of the legitimate pursuit of learning, adding that the invisible harm school attacks inflict on the victims’ mental health is incalculable and irredeemable.
“Girls have particularly been targeted, exacerbating the figures of out-of-school children in Nigeria, 60 percent of whom are girls. It is a trajectory which must be halted, and every hand in Nigeria must be on deck to ensure that learning in Nigeria is not a dangerous enterprise for any child, particularly for girls,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins disclosed that in Katsina State, government and communities have fenced some schools, and that has encouraged girls to attend school, underscoring the reality that collaboration is required in addressing insecurity in schools and making schools safe, especially for girls.
The statement further reads; “Today marks eight years since the first known attack on a learning institution in Nigeria on 14 April 2014, in which 276 students at Government Girls Secondary School Chibok in north-east Nigeria were abducted by a Non-State Armed Group. Since then, a spate of attacks on schools and abductions of students – sometimes resulting in their deaths – has become recurrent in the last two years, especially in the north-west and north-central regions of Nigeria. Since December 2020, 1,436 school children and 17 teachers have been abducted from schools, and 16 school children lost their lives”.
“In Katsina State, 300 SBMC members have been trained, and schools, supported through the Girls’ Education Project (GEP3) funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK, have developed Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans to mitigate the impact of potential and actual threats.
“Multi-sectoral task teams on school safety have also been established across all the 34 LGAs of Katsina state to provide timely and efficient networking among actors on school security, with particular focus on the safety of girls. Additionally, 60 Junior Secondary Schools have developed emergency plans and tested the plans in evacuation drills”, said UNICEF.
UNICEF reiterated that althoughh Nigeria has ratified the Safe Schools Declaration, schools and learners are not sufficiently protected, hence the need to pay greater attention in protecting children, teachers and schools, else they will continue to come under attack. Urgent, coordinated action is needed to safeguard the right to learn for every child in Nigeria.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called on students, parents, civil society organizations, and religious and traditional leaders to join the struggle to save Nigerian universities from neo-liberal attacks.
The zonal coordinator of the union Kano zone comrade Abdulkadir Muhammad stated this during a media briefing in Kano over the weekend.
He said ASUU has resisted attempts by the federal government to impose the integrated payroll and personnel information system IPPIS on the Nigerian Universities.
Comrade Abdulkarim Muhammad explained that the IPPIS payment platform does not capture the Peculiarities of Nigerian Universities and is inimical to their Autonomy.
He said the union developed the university transparent and accountability solution UTAS, a software that addresses the peculiarities of Nigerian universities and preserves their autonomy.
“UTAS has been subjected to a series of tests and the results have been very impressive, UTAS is superior and more robust despite this, the FG has been reluctant to deploy the software, however, remains recalcitrant in its preference for IPPIS,” he said.
Comrade Abdulkadir Muhammad noted that the recent attempt to sabotage UTAS was made by the National information technology development Agency NITDA.
“NITDA’s remark on UTAS was puzzling, the software was found to be 85% Accurate, hence ASUU kano zone expected that it could have been honorable enough to wait for the completion of the process before passing any verdict on the software,” he said.
The union urged all stakeholders to join the struggle, aimed at uplifting the standard of Education in the Country.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Friday expressed doubts over the ability of the Federal Government under the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to resolve the lingering crisis in the education sector, particularly the universities.
The union said an indefinite strike will commence.
The union described as “shameful” the continued defence of IPPIS by the Federal Government despite reported fraud in it’s implementation as indicated in the 2021 report submitted to the National Assembly by the Auditor General of the Federation.
In a statement on Friday, ASUU lamented the numerous past negotiations and agreements with the Federal Government on how to revamp the education sector but which the government had shown no commitment to implement.
The statement signed by the Chairman of ASUU, University of Jos branch, Dr Lazarus Maigoro, read, “In the last one year, our Union has been engaged with the federal government and its officials over demands which, if met, would lift the standard of our battered tertiary institutions, especially the universities. The undisputed crisis in our educational sector has met, as with other consequences, nothing but the same response. Our union states very clearly that we appreciate the interest demonstrated by the Nigerian Inter-religion Council with a view to resolving the current impasse.
“However, it is not rational to continue to return to the same physician for the cure of an ailment iatrogenically introduced by him or one in which he has failed to cure or bring relief to his patient.
“From historical experience, we can conclude that NIRECs efforts with agents of government will be more prone to bringing further pain and anguish to the system. This will surely be the case if NIREC’s intervention ends with a palliative solution. This will lead to another phase of the same crisis. For the avoidance of doubt, our Union ASUU, has had several meetings with the Minister of Labour, Officials of the Federal Ministry of Education, the NUC, and NITDA and, very recently with the Chief of Staff to the President.
“All these meetings have not calmed our members as the following issues still remain unresolved. The recent comments by the spokesman to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina that government will keep to the promises, rings very hollow to us. The government’s pattern of response to the issues is that of a serial promise-breaker. Like an unfaithful spouse, they are unable to match their words with action which is affecting the education sector negatively. We are tired of their deceit and IT IS TIME FOR US TO ACT. We want to inform Nigerians, that we are tired of fruitless meetings with the Minister of Labour, NUC Executive Secretary, Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, NITDA, and the Chief of Staff to the President. If they ever want us to listen to them, they should first of all act on the promises they have already made.
“In the meantime, we are resolved to proceed on an indefinite and comprehensive strike until fidelity returns to our relationship with the government and our demands are met. We are tired of the back and forth.”
The Management of Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri led by Engr. Dr Chidiebere Michael Arimanwa, has banned students from driving their vehicles into the campus, due to reckless driving by which caused two near-fatal accidents in the last one week.
According to a release signed by B.O. Dara on behalf of the Registrar, after an emergency management meeting Friday, only the polytechnic staff would be allowed to drive into the campus, after proper identification, either with their identification cards or letter of identification from the Registrar.
In the same vein, management has also banned the use of departmental uniforms or customized T-shirts on campus as a mark of identity.This has become necessary after it was observed that some strange people take advantage of the use of departmental uniforms to fly strange colors.
Students are, therefore, encouraged to continue to dress decently and corporately on campus and Academic Heads of Departments are enjoined to enforce this directive or be held responsible for acts of students’ violation.
The Federal Government has begun moves to prevent an industrial action in the country’s public universities as the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ three-week deadline ended on Sunday.
The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said the ministry had written a letter to the Ministry of Finance on the payment of allowances to staff of universities.
But the union told one of our correspondents that government had only met one of its demands.
ASUU had on November 15 given the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum over government failure to meet its demands.
The lecturers threatened to embark on another round of industrial action following the ‘government’s unfaithfulness’ in implementation of the Memorandum of Action it signed with the union upon which last year’s strike action was suspended.
After the union’s National Executive Council meeting at the University of Abuja on November 13 and 14, ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, lamented that despite meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige on October 14, 2021, on issues including funding for revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution, promotion arrears, renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, and the inconsistencies in Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system payment, none of the demands had been met.
The Federal Government promised to pay N30bn as revitalisation fund to universities. It also promised to pay N22.1bn earned allowances to university workers.
When contacted on Saturday night, ASUU president told one of our correspondents that government had not met all the demands.
Osodeke said the union would meet on Sunday to take a decision on the issue. As of the time of sending this report, the union was still meeting.
“The deadline will elapse by Sunday. They only met one out of our requests which is the NEEDS assessment; the revitalisation funds of N30bn but they paid only N20bn to the universities. The other requests have not been fulfilled even the ones they promised. Our officers are meeting tomorrow, we will let you know our decision by tomorrow (Sunday),” he said on Saturday.
When contacted at 8:30pm on Sunday, ASUU president said the union was still meeting. “We haven’t taken a final decision yet. We have to consult all our branches and zones. The national cannot just sit down and call for action. The government didn’t implement what they promised us,” he said
But Nwajiuba said the ministry of education had written its finance counterpart on the payment, adding that the Minister of Finance had acknowledged the receipt of the letter.
He said, “We have sent a letter to the ministry of finance and in the letter we did a breakdown of each university and the individuals to be paid. We do not pay unions. What we will do is to pay each university. We have done the breakdown.
“I spoke to the minister of finance yesterday and she said she got the letter and her ministry would work with the breakdown that we gave them. The payment will be paid as soon as due process is concluded by the ministry of finance. But it should be noted that the money will not be paid to the union as a whole but it would be paid to each university.”
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has accused the Federal Government of appointing five unqualified persons as rectors in newly established federal polytechnics, in violation of the subsisting Act.
The ASUP National President, Mr Anderson Ezeibe, who stated this at the 100th National Executive Council meeting of the union in Auchi, on Wednesday, said that the Federal Government violated the Federal polytechnics Amendment Act, 2019, in the appointment of the rectors.
According to him, the law allowed for only people within the cadre of Chief Lecturer, with a minimum of five years experience to be appointed.
Recently, the Federal Government announced the establishment of six new federal polytechnics in Cross River, Oyo, Plateau, Benue and Borno States.
“Five out of the six rectors that were appointed into these newly established polytechnics did not possess the requisite qualifications,” he said, adding that the union had already gone to court to challenge the appointments.
“We have an order of court for substituted service, we also have an order to join the five persons appointed illegally,” he said.
Speaking further, the ASUP president urged the Edo state government to pay the five months salary arrears owed staff of the State Polytechnic.
In his speech, the Deputy Governor, Mr Philips Shaibu said the state government was aware of the lingering labour issues at the state polytechnic and that adequate steps were being taken to address the issues.
Represented by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Jimoh Ijegbai, the deputy governor commended the union for its cooperation and patience with the government in the face of the crisis.
Mustapha Zubair, Rector, Auchi Polytechnic, expressed worry over the low ratings of polytechnics in the country, noting that the Polytechnic Act had well-established criteria which, those in charge of the sector should endeavour to uphold.
The rector urged ASUP to always adopt dialogue in seeking redress, saying, “dialogue is the best tool in making agitations”.
“The just concluded strike by the union has yielded positive results, N15 billion has been released for the development of polytechnics in Nigeria,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Lawani Jimoh, Chairman, Auchi Polytechnic chapter of ASUP, said that industrial harmony was gradually being built between the union and the polytechnic’s management.
“We are looking forward to the implementation of CONTISS 15 migration for the lower cadre officers in August.
“We (also) expect management to reciprocate by paying the promotion arrears of staff promoted in 2016,” he said.