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Why I want to be Nigeria’s Health Minister – Babcock best graduating student

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How will you describe your four-year journey at Babcock?
It has been quite wonderful but not really an easy task. But I thank God for making it possible for me to graduate today as one of the successful students of the great institution.

When you first stepped into the school, did you envisage graduating as the best student four years later?
Yes I did. Right from the day one, I had set a target for myself. Though but for determination, focus and perseverance, I would not have been able to go this far. And I thank God that it all ended this way.

Was there any study technique you adopted during your undergraduate days?
Yes, I made sure I had my personal timetables which I wrote at the back of all my note books. These timetables guided me and helped me to do lots of personal study back in school. I made sure I followed the timetables with all diligence and prayer.

But being a missionary university, how were you able to sustain a relationship?
Though some people might be wondering that since Babcock University is a missionary school, how come I have a boyfriend? Well, I have to say the school is not all about academics, but also encourages social well being and interrelationship so that the students will not be timid later in life.

What informed your choice of Public Health as a course of study?
Well, in Ilishan Remo where I hail from, I will say there are lots of health challenges that people face and they hardly know their sources and how to treat them. As it is, in Ilishan so it is in many other rural and semi-urban communities across the country, mostly affecting women and children. So, I decided to study Public Health so as to help in saving lives.

And does the course meet that aspiration?
Public Health, as the name implies, is about the health of the public. It involves looking after the general well being, total health issues of people within a community. We run courses that dwell on immunization; create health awareness in the people; carry out researches in specific area of human health and diseases. After such researches, we submit findings and also make recommendations to government and hospitals to pay adequate attention to particular ailment, either by funding or procuring critical medical facilities that would help in addressing the prevalence and all of that.

Ours is not to give injection to patients. But to carry out specific researches on ailments that have prevalence cases and make recommendations available to individuals, private organizations, government and NGO’s, among others.

What should the world look out for in you, in the next couple of years?
Yes, I want the world to look out for me. Later in life and if God permits me, I have the greatest aspiration to be Nigeria’s health minister. I hope I can make lots of impact on people and also save lots of lives from the stranglehold of different the of diseases. I really hope to soar beyond this level. I pray it does not just end here. I pray God Almighty to see me through.


Source: Daily Trust News

June 18, 2013 |

Admission Seekers Have 103,000 More Spaces in Tertiary Institutions – IEI President

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Some stakeholders have contradicted the recent declaration by the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqquatu Rufai, that there are only about 520,000 admission slots in the nation’s tertiary institutions. In a chat with Vanguard Learning, Dr. Andrews Jegede, the National President of the Association of Innovation and Vocational Institutions, opined that there are 103,000 more spaces available for students at Innovative Enterprise Institutions (IEIs).

What role do Innovation Enterprise Institutions play in the education sector?

They are private institutions that offer technical and professional education at post-basic and tertiary levels to the school leavers and working class. The aim is to meet the increasing demand for technical manpower of the various sectors of the economy and these institutions are to implement Federal Government’s concept of Public-Private Partnership in Technical and Vocational Education (TVET) and skill-focused education sector. Innovation institutions are meant to gradually increase intake until they absorb almost 50% of the admission seekers at post-secondary schools.

What are the features of innovative institutions?

They are products of the recent reform initiatives of the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) in the education sector. There are about 120 institutions approved by the FME and accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), and have been listed by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board since 2007. The curriculum is professional.

Some of the areas we cover are presently not covered by universities and polytechnics such as computer hardware engineering, software engineering, multimedia technology, oil and gas, information technology, creative arts, industrial welding, early childcare education, paralegal studies, computer networking and securities, film production and many more. The National Innovation Diploma (NID) is the certification approved by the FME for IEIs. It is the equivalent of the National Diploma, and it is equally four semesters of course work spanning over two years with Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES).

Tell us about the new registration template for UTME that makes provision for IEIs

The Minister for Education Prof. Ruqquayatu Rufai has approved that effective 2014, JAMB will list Innovation Institutions independent of others on JAMB registration template. Hence, candidates will have to choose eight schools. For the first time, TVET is now in the front burner of the education sector. In addition to that, this 2013/2014 academic session, other tertiary institutions have planned to admit 500,000 candidates, be sure that we innovative institutions will supplement that by additional 103,000 candidates.

Prior to this time, we were lumped up with polytechnics and they nearly choked us and denied us of our identity. Operational guidelines of universities are different from those of polytechnics, operational guidelines of polytechnics are also different from those of the colleges of education. In the same way, the operational guidelines of innovation enterprise institutions are different from those of other institutions. That was what we drew the attention of the Federal Government to. What this means is that henceforth, candidates will choose two universities, two polytechnics, two colleges of education and two innovative institutions.

Another advantage is that we are going to have a lot of candidates to contend with. Before now, people were not aware that there were spaces in innovative institutions. Instead of advertising from one place to the other, we pushed to get the policy right; and thankfully, we have done that. And by 2014, we plan to increase intake to 110,000 candidates by year 2015, and year 2016 intake into Innovative institutions should be 140,000 by 2015 until we reach 200,000 by year 2017.

Were the 103,000 spaces mentioned included in the figures given by the Education Minister?

No. This is because in times past, IEIs were not factored into the available carrying capacities in the country. There are spaces. The problem is that the general public is not aware of them. When you mention higher institution, the first thing that comes into anybody’s mind is the university. Some have forgotten that there are Colleges of Education and polytechnics. Many people are not even aware that there are new institutions to complement those efforts. People are not aware that there are innovative institutions. When government mentions the available spaces, they are referring to universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and they forget the private innovative institutions.


Source:
The Vanguard Newspaper

June 9, 2013 |

Educationist Seeks More Teachers For Unity Schools

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A former Principal, Federal Government Girls’ College, Sagamu, Ogun State, Alhaja Falilat Quadri, has opposed the call for the scrapping of unity colleges in the country.

Rather, Quadri called for the recruitment and posting of more subject teachers to the schools to enhance tuition.

She stated this during the send-off party organised by the FGGC to mark her retirement from service as the school’s principal and deputy director in the Federal Ministry of Education.

The former principal, who retired from service after 35 years, said unity schools would remain relevant in promoting integration in the country.

According to her, they have become a meeting point for Nigerians from the various ethnic groups to relate with one another.

She said,

Unity Schools no longer necessary? They are very necessary in bringing people of different backgrounds together. FGGC, Sagamu is not just one unity school, it is an international school because you have pupils even from here. I’m one of the products of the Federal unity colleges and I won’t want it to be scrapped. I want them to remain.

Quadri, however, stressed the need for more teachers to be posted to the institution, saying this would enhance the standard of teaching and learning there.

She added that because of the growing pupil population in the school, it had become imperative that more teachers be provided to handle each of the various subjects.

The former principal also commended the Federal Government’s efforts at ensuring that the Nigerian girl-child was given proper education.

“The Federal Government is trying. The current Minister of Education, Prof. Ruquayyat Rufai, is trying very well and, in conjunction with the Minister of State for Education, who is the minister in charge of the unity schools, they are putting in their best to see that all girls are fully educated. They are trying their best,” she said.

Quadri also said contrary to the general belief among Nigerians, the standard of education in the country had not fallen.

“It’s improving, it’s not falling at all. You can see the performance of the young girls, everything is fine. Thank God,” she said.

The retired principal, however, assured that having left government service, “I’ll continue to serve my community and my people. I’m retired but not tired.”

Also, the college Vice-Principal (Academic), Mr. Nwabueze Njoku, described her as a strong advocate of the culture of transparency.

Njoku added that Quadri distinguished herself as an administrator “who blocked every loophole.”

The current principal of FGGC, Sagamu, Ms. Adenike Ogunbekun, commended her predecessor for laying a solid foundation for her to come and build upon.

May 2, 2013 |

There is No Free education in Nigeria – Odeneye

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Kehinde Odeneye: Ogun State Central Constituency representative in the House of Representative and member, House Committee on Education.

How will you react to an allegation that members of various committees in the House of Representatives take bribes?

I disagree with the allegation because it is unfounded and baseless. It is not true that we go on oversight duties when we are broke. It is our constitutional duty to visit tertiary institutions, ministries and government agencies to assess their compliance with the usage of the funds that had been appropriated to them. Apart from the Committee on Education, I belong to other committees including Housing and Air Force Committees but let me state that throughout last year, the education committee did not visit any tertiary institution and it is because we believe that we should first visit all the other agencies including the National Examination Council, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, National Universities Commission, National Board for Technical Education and the West African Examinations Council.

The idea is to enable us to have a fair understanding of how money is being released to these institutions so that when we get to them we will have a grip of what is going on there. The oversight function we are doing is like the work of an auditor and an ill-informed auditor will never do a thorough job. So, we decided to visit the supervisory agencies first to get first hand information on the activities of these institutions.

But before last year, your committee did oversight function and it has not been able to indict any institution for corruption. Are you saying there is no corruption in those institutions?

Let me first clarify one issue about our assignment. The oversight function we perform is not a witch-hunt. We don’t go all out to say we are looking for corrupt officials, what we do is to ensure that each institution spends the money it gets for the purpose it is meant for.

For instance, we were forced to intervene in the University of Abuja crisis when it became obvious that students could bear the brunt of mistakes or errors that they did not make. We called on the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqquayyat Rufa’i, the NUC and the university that they should do everything within their powers to ensure that no student suffers due to non-accreditation of their programmes. It is not the duty of a candidate seeking for admission to a university to know whether a programme is accredited or not.

No committee of the National Assembly can save any corrupt chief executive of a government agency, vice-chancellor, rector or provost of any institution because there are other measures including the Public Accounts Committee and other anti-corruption agencies to deal with such. However, I’m not saying that administrators of our tertiary institutions are totally free of corrupt practices.

Don’t you think it is morally wrong for members of your committee to receive any form of support including accommodation and logistic support from administrators of institutions they visit for oversight function?

I don’t see anything wrong in that but there should be a limit. I don’t think it is wrong if you come to my house and I offer you water, food or a place to lay your head if you cannot finish your assignment in a day.

Do you think the planned scrapping of NECO and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination will receive the blessing of the House of Representatives?

The executive arm of government has not informed us of any plan to scrap NECO or UTME. At least, it has not come to our committee but we have also been reading it on the pages of the newspapers. However, I believe that the new policy if brought to the House will fall flat because decisions like that cannot be made by a few individuals. You must have to call all the stakeholders, throw it into the public domain and let Nigerians debate on it. Sound reasons must be advanced and the people must be convinced on the need for it.

The problem we have in Nigeria is that some people just wake up and say since a policy is working well in Ghana or Britain, then we should use it in Nigeria. They wake up and say because this is what they do in America, we should also do it without looking at the peculiar nature of the country. They won’t do any feasibility study; they won’t seek opinions of experts and

Why did we set up NECO and UTME in the first instance? Are we saying these organisations are not delivering on their mandate? For me, nothing on ground has suggested that they are not performing. Offices have been built across the country, workers have been employed and they are doing their jobs, so, I know that it cannot sail through if brought before The National Assembly.

But what gives you that confidence?

We hold regular discussions on topical issues and I can say that I’m speaking the minds of the majority of the members.

Most state governments have the free education policy and they pay the public examination fees of candidates when facilities in most public schools are non-existent. What is your take on this?

I believe in free education. But I will not answer this question like a typical politician because I know that there is no government in Nigeria including the Federal Government that can actually provide free, qualitative and quantitative education. Education is a costly venture and except we are deceiving ourselves, I repeat it that no government can give holistic free education to its citizens. And one of the problems we have in the country is that we have politicised education, we tell our people that they don’t need to contribute towards the educational development of their children while deep within us, we know that this is impossible because of paucity of funds and ever bloating population in our schools.

Unfortunately, that is what our people want to hear. That is why in some states, poor pupils are given automatic promotion in order to create rooms for those who are coming behind them without recourse to merit. And because we are not investing in vocational and technical education, the purpose of the 6-3-3-4 system of education, which provides that pupils that are not academically-inclined should go to technical colleges after the completion of the first three years of secondary school education, is being defeated.

Also, how many specialised technology-based tertiary institutions do we have? To make matters worse, funding for education is too meagre; facilities in our public schools are inadequate; no libraries, no laboratories and the teachers have no offices. In some states, children still sit on the floor to learn. And when people blame the universities for the production of low quality graduates, I say no, the school system should take the blame and by extension, the government at all levels.

Despite these problems, some state governments still pay WAEC and NECO fees of pupils that are intellectually deficient. How do we tackle this?

I’m aware of this. Some of them argue that it is still part of the free education policy they promised the people and they must fulfill their promise while others say they are doing it because the people are poor. But for me payment of WAEC and NECO fees for pupils is part of the politicisation that I just talked about. If you say you are doing it because people are poor, then scholarships, bursary and grant departments should be established to take care of brilliant pupils who come from poor home. For me, paying WAEC and NECO fees of pupils who are not well groomed for examination, is like kitting an untrained army for war. They will lose the battle.

What other things do you think must be done to improve on the system and what effort are you making to lift education in your constituency?

As a nation, we should equip our public schools, enhance teachers’ welfare and wages to attract the best hands, create more specialised technology-based institutions, establish more vocational centres and motivate even our children to do well in their studies.

There is a constituency allowance for all lawmakers but a lot of people erroneously believe the money goes into the lawmakers’ bank accounts. In my constituency, I have embarked on human and communal development efforts. We are empowering our youths through vocational development in barbing, tailoring, soap making, hairdressing and healthcare delivery.

Over 400 candidates of our human development efforts will graduate in May and they will all be given equipment needed to make them economically independent and self-sufficient. I’m doing this because I believe that vocational education and training have the potential to reduce youth unemployment and crime in our country.


Source: The Punch

May 1, 2013 |

Intel Corporation, Nigeria and the Student Personal Computer Scheme

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County Manager, Intel Corp Nigeria: Student Personal Computer Scheme

Olubunmi Ekundare, Country Manager, Intel Corporation, Nigeria.

Punch’s Olabisi Deji-Folutile, interviews Olubunmi Ekundare, the Country Manager, Intel Corporation, Nigeria.

Why is Intel  collaborating  with the Federal Government on the  student personal computer  scheme?

We realised that most students don’t have access to computers probably because there is no credit facility for consumers. There is a large population of youths who don’t have access to computers  whether it is in  terms of ownership or broadband connection.  We came up with the idea that instead of government subsidising and providing all the funds all the time,  we   could encourage  students to invest in computers  for their own benefit,  we think by doing this we could also  encourage ownership.  If they invest their money, they are likely to take ownership more seriously.  We are focusing on universities and the National Youth Service Corps orientation camps.  We thought that would be better than turning out graduates that don’t have computer training or education and I can back this up with facts. During the last orientation camp, we went to Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, we asked them questions like ‘ how many of you are ICT compliant, how many of you have computers’ and 95 per cent of the corps members  said they have never touched  or worked on computers  in their lives.

You mean ninety five per cent of corps members said that? That is pretty high

Yes. We have their names and some of them are Computer Science graduates, some of them  are Electrical and Engineering graduates. They don’t have computers and probably some of them never worked with computers throughout the duration of their studies in the university. So we came up with this idea.  The question is how do we ignite our consumer market? Fortunately,     government   bought the idea.   We decided to focus on university students. We are out to empower them, we wrote a proposal to government,  brought together all stakeholders-banks, local OEMS, telecoms operators,  we all sat down and looked into the issue.  We looked at what could be consumer-friendly, we also brought universities together through the National Universities Commission and the vice-chancellors.  It’s a special package of connectivity that would be affordable, something that would make it easier to have access to computers.  We are working with the ministry and the   companies  involved  are guaranteeing the products for two years.   The universities   will verify if the students are bona-fide  students. We have special packets of connectivity that will make ownership and connectivity affordable.  We have  special rates for the project. Banks have brought down their interest rate to 15 per cent.   On the government side,  we are starting with 12 pilot universities, the National Universities Commission, Committee of Vice-Chancellors are all involved, there is a portal where all stakeholders have interface

How do you plan to achieve your objective?

We are organising free training programmes on basic use of computers and entrepreneurship.  For instance, we train youth corps  members  for three days per batch. We are trying as much as we can to  accommodate  as many youths as possible. For Lagos NYSC orientation camp alone, we have registered over 500 youths so far.  We are not supplying computers, we are doing more of bringing the ecosystem partners together,  government is supporting but doing so by providing the enabling environment.     Government has helped us to get universities to sign on the project, without universities, you can’t get the students.  All the parties involved are helping in form of subsidy so that at the end of the day, students could afford and have access to these computers.

What does Intel stand to gain from this intervention?

For us at Intel, the question is how do we grow the totality of the market?  How do we help the local economy to grow?  We want  to see the industry grow. That is what we do in every country where we have presence. We are interested in the growth of the economy. I was at Omatec last week,  Omatek has inaugurated a new factory that is what happens when you launch a project like this,  you begin to create jobs.  We have had experience in other countries and that has helped in shaping our desire to live a permanent mark wherever we find ourselves.-sharing our experience in other markets.

You said you were starting with 12 federal universities, are you restricting your operations to federal institutions alone?

No. We know the size of the country and we want to work with as many universities as possible. We are not restricting our activities to public institutions either. We will accommodate any university that is ready to partner with us. They  are free to join  if they have structures that can support the programme. Remember, most of the things we do are done online so interested universities must be ready in terms of infrastructure. They must have a reasonable degree of infrastructure on ground before they can key in.  We are not stopping  anybody, our goal is to make computers available at the lowest price possible. We are looking at something like N50, 000. All the stakeholders have discounted the cost.

We have over 124 universities in the country and you are talking about just 12 as pilot studies.  What happens to the rest of the students?

Any university can join once their structures support what we are doing. We want to make these products available in shops. We have over 200,000 students in the 12 universities. If we reach 20-30 per cent, we would have made some good marks of extending ICT to these students. They can pay within 18-24 months.  When you put all those factors together, it has lowered the cost. All the universities in Nigeria are free to participate. In Nigeria, we have about five to 10 centres where people can easily go in and buy computers. Nigeria is underserved. We want people to be more involved in this business to expand its scope. We need to increase the retail reach. There is still a large population that is underserved. We are saying people should have a total package.  People should  have a total solution that is why we have brought all the stakeholders together, we are offering a total solution. This should be our focus. What government is doing is to provide an enabling environment. We are saying people should have access. Remember  too that most of the  graduates  that do not have access to computers are those that came from other parts of the country, most of the people serving in Lagos are not from Lagos.

What is your take on the decision of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to adopt computer-based test for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination? 

It is a forward-looking policy. To an extent, the country is prepared but we need to put in place infrastructure that can support what the exam body is planning to do. What should be done is a deliberate policy and a push for broadband technology which is relevant to our country.  People register online now,  and we are taking a step forward. Some countries see ICT in education as a social service- a critical service for that matter. This is the kind of push we need from government. If we don’t make it a deliberate policy, we won’t move forward. For instance, the decision to create a cashless environment is a deliberate push, it  will bring down the cost of producing notes for the Central Bank of Nigeria in the long run. People need to be nudged to do things right. We should have subtle ways of making people to do the right thing, but I don’t support   adopting punitive measures to force people to do the right thing.

How will you describe ICT infrastructure in Nigeria?

Government is trying especially at the federal level. We have the school access programme,  the one-on-one learning programme of the Federal Government has been on for five years, it has been supporting the practical use of computer learning. But we can do a lot more than what we are doing now. We must start a campaign that will encourage youths to buy into their future. We should encourage our youths to create their own tomorrow through the use of ICT. These are things we should be doing now.

IT in Nigeria is evolving.  The ICT industry  is dynamic. New technologies are always coming out. It is a continuous progression. ICT is beginning to evolve, some Nigerians are developing software content. For instance, on Iroko TV you can watch all Nollywood films on the move. New things are coming out. A lot of our youths are into ICT. Some go to Cisco, we have Ajapa, it has digitalised all the traditional folktales, we have so much richness in our culture that can be exported.

What is your view of the interest of the average Nigerian youth in ICT?

The average Nigerian youth  is very enthusiastic  in terms of  outlook to life. Nigerians are the largest users of Blackberry in the world. Our youths are forward-looking. The first set of Nokia tune was composed by a Nigerian. We have our pupils at the secondary school level winning awards and coming back home with gold in global competitions, we have talents in this country, all we just need to do is to channel our efforts in the right direction. We have to raise the bar. That is how to better the country.


Source: Punch Online

December 25, 2012 |
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