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Ogun Student Shines at 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship

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Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship

Fifteen-year-old Olubunmi Agusto  of Day Waterman College, Abeokuta clinched the second position for Microsoft Word 2007 along with the sum of $2,500 in scholarships at the 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) World Championship for students held at Anaheim, USA. She is the first African to emerge among the top three since the first edition of the competition, 13 years ago.

The global competition organised by Certiport, a Pearson VUE business,  is designed to test the proficiency of students in the use of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel and open to students in both secondary schools and tertiary institutions, aged between 13 and 22 year. This year, attracted more than 400,000 unique candidates from 130 countries with 123 student finalists participating in the final round of competition.

The finaliOlubunmi Agustosts in Microsoft Word took a timed exam in which they had to recreate a an image of a Word document containing picture, text boxes, tables and other features by following instructions on specifications, such as the same margins and horizontal and vertical height of each object. They were scored on accuracy and speed.

To emerged as Nigeria representatives at the world stage, Olubunmi Agusto joined by Ntekim Toluwani and Adonijah Airede emerged best at the 2014 Certiport Microsoft Office Specialist National Championship organized by ReadManna to get the best students in Microsoft Office Specialist who will contest in the World Championship.

Olubunmi Agusto from Day Waterman College, Abeokuta, Ogun state scored 967 in 15 minutes 88 seconds in Word 2007. Closely allied was Ntekim Toluwani from Thomas Adewunmi International College, Oko, Kwara state who scored 936 in PowerPoint 2010 in 25 minutes 28 seconds. Just as Adonijah Oshioselaga Airede from Regent School Abuja scored 931 in Word 2010 in 22 minutes 38 seconds.

The competition is an annual event.

September 11, 2014 |

Meet Best Student App Developer

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Kayode Sowole, a 400-level Computer Science student of University of Lagos who won the ‘Best Student App’ for developing the Wazobia Bible application which allows people to read the bible in Pidgin, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and all English translations offline. In this interview with Vanguard Learning, he speaks on his inspiration for application development. Excerpts

TELL us about yourself.

My name is Kayode Sowole. I am from Sodeke town in Abeokuta, Ogun State. I am currently a 400-level Computer Science student of University of Lagos.

I am a highly motivated individual who always enjoys a good challenge. My interest in computing since my childhood has been a major factor in helping me to develop my programming skills that have led to my high level of success in mobile app development. I love developing web and mobile applications. My leisure activities include writing, travelling and listening to music.

When did you realise you wanted to become an App developer?

I made the decision to become a mobile application developer in my first year in University of Lagos in 2010 after an online video training on app development on YouTube.

So what steps did you take?

I started by downloading and installing the Java IDE, which the YouTube training had recommended. I also got the Netbeans IDE on my laptop. Then, I searched Google for related e-books and downloaded them on my laptop for references. From that moment, I started building Java and Android apps. I found my kicks in getting online to research and learning new stuff about app development.

What was the first app you developed?

The first app I developed is called the Picpuzzle, a picture puzzle game that requires the player to rearrange the items in a picture in the proper order. I had fun putting that one together.

Where did you get inspiration for the app you created?

The Holy Spirit was the author of my inspiration. The thinking behind the app was that when God communicates with you in your native language, it seems as if God is from your town for Him to have been able to talk to you.

It allows for a closer and deeper transaction with the Almighty that is very native and heartfelt. When you read the Yoruba Bible, it seems as if God is a Yoruba man, which is true because we are all copies of God’s image. Language is very powerful.

If you want a people to lose their sense of identity, all you need to do is to take their language away from them. As such, providing the word of God to people in a language that they can understand is so powerful and has a very good feeling.

The Wazobia Bible app, affords you the opportunity to read God’s word in Pidgin, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and all English translations offline. It’s all about creating value and opportunities for people to access God’s word.

What were the high points of your preparation?

The incorporation of the Bible into Bible programming languages such as THML (Theological Mark-up Language) and OSIS (Open Scripture Information Standard) was the most significant part of my preparation.

The Theological Markup Language is a new markup language that is being used to mark up texts for the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and other projects.

This XML application can be thought of as HTML with additions for electronic books and rich digital libraries, with special support for theological needs such as scripture references and Strongs numberings.

Also the Open Scripture Information Standard (OSIS) is an XML application (or schema), that defines tags for marking up Bibles, theological commentaries, and other related literature. These are useful languages I had to code with to develop the app.

Did you know that you were going to win?

I was shocked when I received the news of my win. Someone had called me to tell me I won because I didn’t attend the presentation.

How do you feel about winning?

This is so comforting and assuring. I feel so exhilarated. I’m so happy my hard work on the app has really paid off. This is a reward for the value I have tried to create by opening up the word of God to reach more people in a language they can understand and appreciate.

How do you plan to maximise the platform your victory has brought?

I intend to use social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter so as to reach out to a lot of people.

Development of the app

Also the 6 month- promotion of the app promised by MTN would help popularise the app.

Could you take us through the start-up process and its growth trajectory?

I started the project by compiling the Holy Bible in Pidgin, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and all English translations in plain text format.

Next, I built the GUI (Graphical User Interface) in Eclipse which made the project about fifty percent ready. After that, I developed the connection between the Bible files and the core of the app. At this stage, the project was seventy five percent completed.

To complete the development of the app, I introduced the reading of other documents such as Bible in one year, Every day in the word and other Christian books. I also made a collection of 384 bible verses which will be highlighted when reading the Bible. At the end of this stage, Wazobia Bible app was hundred per cent ready for use.

How have mobile users embraced the app and what kind of numbers have you churned out?

Wazobia Bible app has been downloaded beyond my expectation. The app has had over 2,800 downloads on MTN App Store.

Have you been able to monetize the application?

No. It’s a free app for now.

How do you intend to deal with the competition within the mobile industry?

I intend to introduce other features like reading the Bible out in audio and in the selected language such as Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and Pidgin.

How would you assess current level of local mobile applications development?

I think local mobile applications development is increasing rapidly and a few years from now, the local mobile applications development community would have doubled.

MTN has launched the MTN NextApps store for various platforms, how will this impact the development of mobile applications and related content for mobile uses?

MTN NextApps store has definitely expanded the reach of apps to various platforms which will definitely improve mobile applications development speedily because it will encourage developers to port their apps to several platforms.

Would you say Nigeria has the local capacity to effectively support the growth and development of mobile content and applications?

Not at the moment. We have a lot of talented students in Nigeria but most cannot even afford a laptop. Even those who have laptops have to use N100 from their pocket money to get 10MB of data to browse. Only a few can afford to fuel their generators because there’s no light. As students, we need laptops, data and electricity to effectively support the growth and development of mobile content and applications.

What advice would you have for the government or corporate bodies in a bid to strengthen the local mobile application industry?

The government needs to make electricity stable to strengthen the local mobile application industry. Corporate bodies need to divert the millions they give to music stars for adverts to buy laptops for secondary school students who just finished their WAEC and are awaiting results.

SOURCE: The Vanguard

April 2, 2014 |

My Teacher’s Counselling Worked for Me – Crescent’s Best Graduating Student

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Crescent UniversityOLAYINKA OLUKOYA was at the 5th convocation ceremony of the Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State. She recounts her interaction with the best graduating student.

HE was extremely happy to be the best overall graduating student of the first Islamic University in Nigeria, Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State. He beamed with smiles as he faced  the audience that came to witness the fifth convocation ceremony of the institution, last Saturday.

For Fatai Abolade Oyekan, the feat of being the winner out of 141 graduands was made possible by dint of hardwork and determination to be the best.

He told Education Tribune in an interview that he feels privileged, honoured and proud to be the best graduating student of the 2012/2013 graduating set.

A graduate of Economics and Actuarial Science, he said one of the things that worked for him was the encouragement he got from his parents, especially one of his secondary school teachers who he identified as Mr Mutiu Kelani.

He said, “My journey through this university began in September, 2010, when I received an admission letter to study Economics with Operation Research at 200 level. The feeling of felicity and profound joy that I felt was not only because I was offered admission into a university, but because I was admitted into this prestigious university.

“While not denying the place of hard work in this great achievement and privilege I enjoy today, I must also admit that my background and experiences in life contributed immensely. I come from a home where I have always been encouraged to work hard and achieve academic excellence, but sincerely, what motivated me most was the huge amount of money that was being paid as school fees yearly. I cannot afford to watch them go down the drain.

“When I was in secondary school, I used to be a good student but I was too playful, and one of my teachers used to tell me that “you can be the best, if you can be more serious,” I did not use to mind him and I continued to do things my own way.

“When I commenced my study in this great university, I thought about what my teacher used to tell me and also being motivated with the school fees being paid annually. I felt in myself that I could make it happen. Though it was not easy, but it is not mission impossible and if it was going to be mission impossible I was ready to be the Tom Cruise.”

According to him, the laid down rules and regulations of the citadel of learning does not allow any form of distractions, hence he needed to face his study squarely.

He recalled that he made the decision to fly higher above other students on his first day on campus and also engaged in socials, but does not keep unproductive friends.

The third born of a family of five, he had his primary education at Ebedi Nursery and Primary School, Iseyin, Oyo State before proceeding to Kelani College for his secondary education.

Oyenekan told Education Tribune that he had initially had a Diploma in Economics  with good grades from the same university which earned him admission into the 200 level.

While he looks forward to his call-up-letter for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, the 24-year-old graduate said he returned to the classroom for his Masters programme in Economics and will like to work in a multinational company.

He said, “I have made up my mind to go for a second degree immediately after my service year, and am looking forward to work in any of the multinational companies.”

Oyenekan said that the Holy Prophet Muhammed is his role model, saying as a God fearing person, he owes Allah all that he has become.

Talking about how he feels being the best graduating student, Oyenekan said he was very proud because a particular course, ‘Finance’ would have cost him the honour.

He said that he got 45 per cent in the course, but had to work harder in other courses to cover up for it.

Oyenekan who said he graduated with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of about 4.8 encouraged the nation’s youths on the need to embrace hard work and commitment to academic excellence.

He attributed planning and strict compliance as a major factor responsible for the award.

“I always plan my programmes. I don’t play when am supposed to be reading and I don’t read when am supposed to relax. This system worked for me,” he said.

Oyenekan in his valedictory speech gave these words of encouragement that “failure can truly be made the mother of success, failure is not the final and success is never ending.”

At the graduation ceremony, the properitor/President, Board of Trustees, Judge Bola Ajibola, Ajibola, a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said the university would not relent in acknowledging and rewarding excellence, hard work and scholarship.

He disclosed that 90 per cent of the mounted courses of the institution had been fully accredited by the National Universities Commission
(NUC), adding that the varsity authorities were working assiduously to raise the remaining courses to full accreditation status.

The former minister observed that the “stringent and tedious peer review accreditation processes” of NUC had done the nation’s university system a lot of good.

While congratulating the graduating students, Ajibola charged them to be good ambassadors of the university and contribute their quota to nation-building.

In his speech, the institution’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Kehinde Okeleye, stated that eight students bagged First Class while 55 others graduated with Second Class Upper Division.

He added that 54 students were awarded Second Class Lower Division while 24 students were in the Third Class Division.

A total of 141 graduated from three colleges with eight students  graduating with first-class honours, fifty-five finished with second class upper,  fifty four with second-class lower and twenty-three with third-class from College of Information and Communication Technology (CICOT), College of Natural and Applied Sciences (CONAS) and College of Social and Management Sciences (COSMAS) of the university.

The Vice Chancellor, said “the need for discipline in the achievement of collective aspirations of the university is being brought early to our students in relation to the critical issues of abstinence from antisocial vices and indecent dressing among other.”

In his acceptance speech on behalf of other honourees, Chief Oba Otudeko lauded the proprietor, Judge Bola Ajibola describing him as being blessed because Crescent University was a dream fulfilled.

He said “we commit ourselves to joining you as partners to take the university to a greater height.”

He praised the graduands for working hard on the sacrifice of their parents and guardians, noting that he was pleased as a proud father to share the great moment with their parents, guardians and mentors “who have provided support that allowed you to reach this milestone.”

Okeleye said the university was proud to release the graduating students to the world as its ambassadors flying its flag.


Source: Nigerian Tribune

November 5, 2013 |

Pregnant at 18, Best Graduating Student at 25

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Seven years after an unwanted pregnancy forced her to drop out of the University of Ilorin, Aishat Farooq emerges the best graduating student of the Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State, reports Temitayo Famutimi

When Aishat Farooq gained admission into the University of Ilorin at 15, to study Zoology, little did she know that she was not going to be an alumnus of the institution. That was in 2003.

Despite the fact that she was a high flyer in her first two years in UNILORIN, the now 25-year-old indigene of Ilorin West-Local Government Area of Kwara State got distracted along the line. She played the campus love game and got a shocking result: she got pregnant.

It was in 2006 and in her third year. She was pregnant for a fellow student whom she had been dating. She was disappointed in herself and thought the whole world was crashing on her. Yet, she vowed not to terminate the pregnancy.

Although she wanted to continue her studies in the university, she became disillusioned and dropped out at 18. She sought consolation in trading.

But her father, Mr. Shehu Farooq, who believed that his daughter’s academic prowess should not be wasted, was determined to get her back on the academic track.

Today, Aishat has a different story to tell. On Saturday, she stood tall among her peers at the 5th convocation ceremony of Bells University, Ota, Ogun State, where she emerged the overall best graduating student with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.93.

“The rebel in me won,” she declared while giving the valedictory address on behalf of the 208 graduating students of the university.

“I hope my story will inspire at least one person to change his or her circumstance. I was pregnant at 18 and by 19 I was already a mother. I had disappointed my father who believed so much in me. He had such big dreams for me and feared the dreams would become unfulfilled”.

Breaking the news of the pregnancy to her father, who was at the time based in the northern part of the country, was not easy. Aishat’s mother, Fatima, who stayed in Lagos with the family, did not break the “sad news” to the man until the lady was almost due. The mum feared her husband would be too angry.

Fatima narrated to our correspondent, “Looking back, we knew her to be very brilliant. But all of a sudden she got pregnant. Though her father and I were always discussing on the telephone, I hid it from him. Whenever he said he would be coming to Lagos to visit us, I would quickly chip it in that I would like to be the one to visit. So, I ensured I was the one always visiting him.

“That was how I managed the situation until the pregnancy was eight months. But even when we broke the news to him, he felt really bad. Although there was nothing he could do, he couldn’t go out for three days.”

Aishat studied Business Administration with specialisation in Human Resources Management, and received the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for the Overall Best Graduating Student with a cash reward of N50,000 and a plaque. She also won the College of Management Sciences Prize and Department of Business Administration Prize for the Best Graduating Student.

Speaking with our correspondent after she received the awards, Aishat, whose face beamed with smiles, expressed gratitude to her dad for not losing hope in her during her trying time.

She noted that the popularly-held notion that the child that goes astray belongs to the mother, while the good ones belong to the father, was not applicable in her situation as her father did not give up on her.

Asked why her dad had so much hoped in her, she stated that her history of academic excellence from childhood right to the university was a major driving force.

Aishat, who attended Nazareth Nursery and Primary School, Lagos; Penny International College, Lagos and Model Secondary School, Maitama, Abuja, said she bagged several academic awards while growing up and noted that she secured admission to UNILORIN the same year she completed her secondary education.

She noted, “I did exceptionally well and bagged awards in the schools I attended. I had the overall best result at the Senior Secondary School Certificate level at Model Secondary School, Maitama, Abuja. In fact in UNILORIN, I was on the first class grade in my first year but in 200 Level, I dropped to second class upper division because I had already started getting distracted by the boys.

“It just happened that things turned out the way it did. But here I am, a product of God’s unending mercies, unconditional love and grace – all coupled with the faith my dad had in me and my fierce determination.

“I’m a goal getter. I push myself hard. Even here (BELLSTECH) in spite of being a mother, I was pushing for the best despite the challenges. I wanted to make my dad proud again. Once you are determined, nothing is impossible. Nothing can stop you.”

She said her decision to study Business Administration as against the sciences, which she was studying in UNILORIN, was informed by her two-year experience in the world of business after she dropped out of university.

She explained that incessant strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, however, informed her decision to attend a private university. “Age was no longer on my side and I wanted to do it fast. And my dad could afford it because he was a businessman,” she added.

Asked if she was involved in any relationship at the Bells, she explained that she was a popular “snob” on campus because the majority of male students were younger than her. Besides, she did not want to get distracted or disappoint her parents and herself again.

Aishat, who has been posted to Lagos State to observe the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme, said, “If you ask around you will be told that I was a snob. My favourite spot was my room. I rarely went out of the room for social events. I went to mosque. However, when I contested for the president of my departmental association, Business Administration Students Association, the Nigerian system worked against me.

“I lost to my male opponent. Although I had plans to take some giant strides if I won, especially in the academic aspect for my fellow students, the fact that I was not the type of person who hangs out worked against me. I didn’t have a social life.”

She said she has no plans for marriage for now. She wants to pursue a master’s degree programme in Human Resources in the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. She added that she also plans to work in a corporate environment to garner experience and afterwards go back to the university to teach “as a way of giving back.”

The second child in a family of eight children, Aishat brought her six-year-old son, Damilola, to the convocation. It was, however, learnt that the Edo State-born father of the boy has since got married to another woman.

She noted that her major challenge on campus was the randomness of classes which denied her the opportunity of spending quality time with her son while her stay in the university lasted.

“We had visiting professors who came into the campus at anytime. Although we had schedules, many of them had a bit of flexible time. Sometimes on Sunday when I took permission to visit my child in Lagos, my classmates would call me up on the phone that there was going to be a class. Because attendance is very important, I had to rush down. This affected me a little,” she added.

Aishat’s father advised parents to give their children and wards the best of tutelage and close monitoring. He noted that he least expected the feat achieved by his daughter as he was at a time disturbed that “she could no longer make it.”

Asked if it was lack of adequate monitoring that made Aishat go astray at UNILORIN, he said, “Let’s just say that is how God wants it. You see, 70 per cent of the fault is on us the parents. Parents should give their children good supervision and tutelage. With this, they cannot derail. I thank God for her because it’s is not easy to have raised her from grass to grace.

“I screamed on the phone the day I learnt she was pregnant. I started asking questions: When, where and how. I burst into tears. But today, she is a new being. And I know the mistake will not repeat itself. My expectations for her are that she should fly higher and higher.”

Some other graduands who distinguished themselves were also recognised at the convocation ceremony.

Kolawole Lawal, who finished from the Department of Economics with a CGPA of 4.73, received the Olusegun Obasanjo’s Prize for being the best graduating student with outstanding academic performance and leadership qualities. Former President Obasanjo who is the Chief Promoter of the university, also attended the event.

Francis Sogunle, from the Department of Computer Science, who had a CGPA of 4.74, received the Chancellor’s Prize for excelling in external competitions of academic nature.

At the ceremony, 208 students were awarded first degrees with Aishat and 13 others being conferred with first class degrees, while 64 of them got second class upper degrees; 83 bagged second class lower; just as 43 were awarded third class degrees. Meanwhile four of the graduands finished with pass degrees.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Isaac Adeyemi, charged the graduates to be patriotic and dedicated to nation building.

“Our beloved country is currently going through a rather stressful period. All hands must be on deck to seek lasting solutions to militancy and insurgencies and disregard for the rule of law. This is the time to prove your worth as you can’t afford to fold your arms or sit on the fence,” he observed.


Source: Punch Newspaper Online

November 5, 2013 |

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 |

Nigeria’s First Online University: Beni American University

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Beni American University logoNigeria’s first online university has been launched by Gossy Ukanwoke who has been nicknamed Nigeria’s Mark Zuckerberg. Called Beni American University, Gossy who is also the founder of the Students Circle Network, an academic social network for students, teachers and institutions that brings over 10,000 free academic resources from over 200 universities globally, and shares it free for students and teachers, said he foresaw it “as a way of clearing the logjam in Africa’s educational sector of its several challenges that avails just some number of Africans an opportunity to be literate hence the essence of his innovation”.

“We realised that there was just a couple of issues in the educational sector in Africa. We have universities but they are not enough in comparison to the youth population. We have universities but the infrastructure is a challenge and then the cost of setting up something new was also a challenge. We were also looking at something that we could easily accommodate as many people as possible without the constraint of location or space or resources, so online was the best alternative for us. With an online university, you can take in as many students as possible; you can get professors from across the world. We have professors who are in the US, we have professors in Malawi, and we have professors in England.”

Andrew Ebegore, already a registered student of the online university shared his experience as he tells how easy life is to study as he does his work during leisure, gets an opportunity to interact and above all schooling take place right in his living room.

“I actually do my school work at my leisure time not at my work time, it allows me to meet different people from around the world, I get to interact with students and lecturers and some seasoned lecturers from around the world, professors and all that. It’s good because I interact, I learn, I do everything and I don’t leave my house which makes it superb.”

A professor of Science and Technology in the University of Lagos, Duro Ajeyalemi, described it as “a laudable idea” which will bridge the gap in terms of challenges plaguing African youths but “right now the resources for successful running of the online university as it is not made available”.

“We do not have the resources enough to cope and many of our… because we have problems with infrastructure, electricity for example is not available in most places so we will need to have constant supply of electricity, we will need to have the computers and the technology for you to be able to benefit maximally.”

Gossy Ukanwoke believes that the high unemployment rate which has cut across the world and Africa especially can actually be brought to the low by entrepreneurship and empowerment which he and his team ensured is in the curriculum for those studying management courses in the university.

“There is a high level of unemployment across the world and one of the things that can actually deal with unemployment is entrepreneurship and empowerment, so what we are doing is even if you are studying Business Management in our university, you will still take our entrepreneurship program, even if you are studying medicine in our university, you will still take our entrepreneurship program so that you can learn how as a doctor or as an engineer or as a Home Economics graduate how you can actually start a business and become an employer of labour instead of being someone who is seeking for employment.”


Source: Channels TV Website

May 1, 2013 |

Clinton Honours Nigeria’s Best Teachers

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Bill ClintonAs the helicopter conveying former American President Mr. Bill Clinton roared across the skies of Obafemi/Owode Local Government in Ogun State, scores of school children waved excitedly at the huge mechanical bird powering above them.

The eminent occupant of the chopper was heading for the June 12 Cultural Centre in Abeokuta, venue of the 18th THISDAY Awards for Excellence. About one hour later, after delivering a speech in which he dwelt on the importance of Information Communication Technology and education in resolving some of the problems facing the world, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of THISDAY Newspapers and Proprietor of Arise International TV, engaged Clinton in a session of questions. It was Clinton’s fourth appearance at the prestigious THISDAY Awards ceremony, the 2013 edition of which celebrated Nigeria’s Best Teachers.

Clinton and His Favourite Teachers
If Clinton saw it coming, he was nonetheless taken aback for a few moments by Obaigbena’s first question. “Bill, who was your favourite teacher and what did you learn?” His answer spoke of the clairvoyant quality of teachers as he revealed that one of his teachers had foreseen that he could become the governor of an American state. Clinton’s educator based her prediction on the observation that he talked too much. This trait to chatter, she warned, would either lead him to jail or the governor’s lodge, depending on whether he learns when to talk and when to shut up. This teacher of his made this remark when he was 11 years old and in the sixth grade.

Much later when Clinton became the Governor of Arkansas, he made a point of visiting the teacher who predicted his future.
Clinton who was elected the 42nd President of the United States of America and praised particularly for significantly transforming education in his home state told the audience at the 18th THISDAY Awards, which included Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo, that he could not narrow his choice of teachers to a ‘favourite’ teacher as Obaigbena sought to know. Instead, he disclosed that he had many teachers who impacted his life. He traced his education from a Catholic Elementary School to a public school.

As the 15 awardees adjudged as deserving of honour by a panel headed by the founding MD of GT Bank Mr. Fola Adeola and former Vice President of the World Band and former Minister of Education Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili listened, Clinton wondered how he could possibly recall everyone of his teachers. He opted to exemplify the importance and impact of teachers by recalling three of his former tutors. He remembered an incident in his sixth grade when the teacher told him that he was top of the class, but he would not be listed as first, but third because he talked too much.

Another teacher of Clinton he spoke of was the man who taught him science when he was 13 years. In his opinion, he was not a good-looking man at all. “He was thick-set, wore thick glasses and smoked cheap cigarettes. He had the habit of telling his students that he knew that they might not remember half of what he taught them. However, he handed down to them a key that worked for him.
“He said every morning after he shaved and had his bath; he would stand before his bathroom mirror and remind himself that he is beautiful. He told his students ‘if you don’t remember anything I teach you remember to speak what you will like to be to yourself. It would take you a long way,’ he told us his students.”

But the former American President did not say if later in his life, he stood before his bathroom mirror to tell himself he would be governor of Arkansas and later President of America.

Clinton’s Encounter as an 18 Year-Old
The last of his memorable teachers was the one he encountered as an 18 year-old in the university. He was a Professor of Ancient Civilisation. In Clinton’s opinion, he was a brilliant man. He recalled that this professor kept hammering on the fact that each society that thrives teaches one thing, ‘that the future is better’. To Clinton, there is a moral lesson in that statement for every individual.
At 66 years, Clinton said that for him to bring to mind what he was taught at these various stages of his life (when he was 11, 13 and 18 years) demonstrated the power that teachers have.

Earlier when he began his speech, Clinton had appreciated a string quartet of youths playing on the violin and other string instruments, saying that the beautiful music made him feel that he was the president of America. This disclosure probably indicated Clinton’s love for classical music.

Professor Laz Ekwueme, a renowned musicologist, actor and now a traditional ruler, also voiced his appreciation for the quartet when he came on stage to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award. The audience also enjoyed the benefit of being entertained by the band of the Ogun State Command of the Nigeria Police.

Nnamdi Asomugha, Professional Football Player
Clinton who spoke on the opportunities that are available with the application of education and ICT acknowledged that Nigerians are outstanding in many countries that they have emigrated to. He urged the Nigerian authorities to find a way of pooling these resourceful Nigerians in the Diaspora back home for the benefit of the country. He singled out for mention, Mr. Nnamdi Asomugha, a professional football player in America who was visiting Nigeria with him. Asomugha was not at the THISDAY Awards as he had taken time out to visit his family. Asomugha who has a charity of his own also does a lot of work with the Clinton Global Initiative. Clinton also told the audience that Obaigbena has pledged to sponsor four Nigerian students to a forum hosted annually by him at the opening of the UN General Assembly, while also disclosing that students of the Lagos Business School will take part in a global contest featuring universities from all over the world.

At some point in his speech, Clinton had some kind of discomfort in his throat and Obaigbena who wore a flamboyant traditional Yoruba attire, left his seat on stage to offer him a glass of water. It was a foretaste of the lavish lunch that the organizers would later treat guests to once the curtain was drawn on the event, which was broadcast live on Channels Television and also enjoyed live internet streaming on THISDAY Group’s sister companies, ARISE TELEVISION and ARISE NEWS.

Two Governors Singled Out for Honours
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State who was rewarded for paying teachers in his state handsomely and for his investment in nursery education recalled his sentimental attachment to Ogun State where he enjoyed free education made possible by the late Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Host Governor Ibikunle Amosun also received an award for the giant strides he has recorded in education. He justified the choice of Ogun State as the host of the event, saying that the symbolism could not be lost on teachers, as the state is the gateway to knowledge having recorded such historic achievements as the seat of the first newspaper-Iwe Irohin Fun Awon Ara Egba Ati Yoruba- in the country, the first Holy Bible and the first secondary school in Nigeria.

“Our administration has built on that legacy by introducing functional free education at the primary and secondary levels that includes free textbooks and instructional materials, construction and rehabilitation of school buildings, regular payment of teachers’ salaries, training and retraining of teachers, promotion of staff as and when due and construction of world-class model schools across the three senatorial districts of the state,” he said.

Teachers’ Roll of Honour
The 15 teachers who were honoured by THISDAY are: Primary school teachers – Mrs. Victoria Jolayemi, Mrs. Dorothy Ugwu and Mrs. Christie Ade-Ajayi. Secondary school teachers – Rev. Father Angus Fraser, Chief D.B.E. Ossai, Mr. Yakubu S. Dimka, Chief Reuben Majekodunmi, Chief Dotun Oyewole, Mr. John O.B. Adeaga, Bawa Mohammed Faskari and Hadiza Thani Mohammed.
University lecturers – Prof. Iya Abubakar, Prof. Frank Ugiomoh, Prof. Michael Obadan and Prof. Eunice Nkiruka Uzodike- They all went home with N2 million each from the organizers.

Selection Criteria
Justifying their selection, Ezekwesili said thousands of applications were received from across the country by people who saw the THISDAY Awards for Nigeria’s Best Teachers as a platform to show gratitude to some of those who contributed to who they are today. She said her committee applied a methodology to arrive at the awardees. According to her, the quality of teachers contributes 60 percent to where the students are. While urging the states and local governments to pay teachers’ salaries as and when due, Adeola supported the THISDAY initiative to honour this class of professionals who are with our children for a quarter of the day and for those in boarding schools eight months or even more”.

Emotional Messages from Grateful Students
Adeola and Ezekwesili announced some of the emotional messages from grateful students. According to the duo, a group of students wanted their teacher honoured for teaching them Mathematics in a way that made them love the subject. There was also an entry from an 80-year old who remembered his teacher. “Someone said the reason he remembers the rivers of Africa today is that his teacher made it into a song for them,” Ezekwesili said. Another entry sought to have honour bestowed on his teacher for teaching him to hold his pen with his thumb and the forefinger, attributing this to the reason he writes so well today.

Some of the recipients of the award like 82-year-old Fr. Fraser whose voice still resonates clearly said he has been teaching in the Middle Belt of Nigeria since his arrival in the country 51 years ago from his native St. Vincent in the Carribeans. Chief Mrs. Ade-Ajayi said he was surprised to be nominated as her late husband, late Prof Ade-Ajayi, was a past recipient of THISDAY Award. Mr. John Adeaga said he has been in the classroom in the past 33 years. Hadiza Mohammed probably summed up the teachers appreciation when she thanked THISDAY for making teachers proud and putting a smile on their faces. Ninety-year old Dotun Oyewole perhaps received the loudest cheer and when it was time for him to speak, his wife took the microphone and after thanking the organizers, she disclosed that she would like to personally thank her husband because she was also his student. To this disclosure, the crowd roared alive again.

At the occasion, 10 distinguished Nigerians received the Lifetime Achievement awards. They included First Bank Chairman Oba Otudeko, Osile of Oke-Ona in Ogun State, Oba Adedapo Tejuoso, Prof. Laz Ekwueme and business mogul and Chairman of Eleganza, Alhaji Rasaq Okoya.


Source: ThisDay Live

February 28, 2013 |

Varsities Should Adopt Nigerian Languages – Yoruba Literature Author

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A Switzerland-based Nigerian and a graduate of Computer Science, Mr. Segun Adebiyi, is planning to focus on writing Yoruba Literature books for children. In this piece, he tells SEGUN OLUGBILE how the need to teach his  children his local language led him to become an author

When he left Nigeria as a secondary school graduate for Switzerland over 20 years ago, Segun Adebiyi’s aspiration was to become a computer scientist or a banker. Today, the Ado-Odo, Ado-Ado-Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State -born culture enthusiast has not only realised his dreams, he has also become an author.

But rather than author an accounting book or a banking resource material, he has authored a Yoruba Literature book for children. The book has also been adopted by the National Educational Research and Development Council as one of the literature books to be used in the nation’s primary schools. Also, the National Library of Nigeria has enlisted the book in its archive.

Married to a Swiss national, Feline, with three children, Adebiyi had succeeded in teaching his three children how to speak and write his native language even though they have never been to Nigeria.

Life at Switzerland, he said, was not as rosy as he had thought. But with determination and perseverance, Adebiyi who had his primary school education at LGSC School, Atan-Ota and secondary education at Vetland Secondary School, Agege, Lagos, secured admission to Institut für Informatik Ausbildung, to read Computer / Information Science. After his degree, he proceeded to Swiss Business School for a degree in Banking and later had a Master’s in Business Administration.

“I experienced some culture shocks which made me resort to use my local name, Olusegun instead of Mike, my Christian name. Swiss are friendly and they love their culture and language. Though they have four national languages, they never relegate their tradition and culture to the background.  As an African going into such environment for the first time; their punctuality shocked me. Their children are also too informal with their parents   and in some cases they address their parents by their first name. They publicly display affection, when you are invited to an occasion, you dare not go with another friend without their permission, the differences are many but it’s not to be condemned because their values and way of life are completely different from ours,” he said.

However, when Adebiyi got married to Seline, a teacher, about 15 years ago, he decided to teach his children Yoruba language and culture.  To show how serious he was about the initiative, Adebiyi named his three children, Babatunde,  Adeola and Oluwatumininu respectively.

So how did his wife react to this?  Adebiyi said, “She was very fine with the idea, she also encouraged and supported me, their growing up is not limited to being taught Yoruba alone, but to also live as Yoruba persons while also embracing western culture, the environment in which they are growing up. Although sometimes there tend to be conflict of cultural differences, we also take time to explain things to them, on a general note it’s very fascinating how they could swift from being Yoruba children to European or vice-versa.

“To me, the most valuable thing any parent could give a child they raise abroad is to let them know and understand the culture of where they are coming from, this is the norm among Indians, Chinese, Koreans and Italians,” he said.

To teach his children Yoruba in a foreign land, Adebiyi shopped for a collection of Yoruba children literature books that teach morals, folklore and culture of his people.

“After a while, I exhausted the few ones that I could lay my hands on. Thereafter I resorted to telling them folktales including the popular Alo Ijapa (the tortoise stories) that we were taught at home by our parents and in school by our teachers. The children were enthusiastic so also was their mother. So, in order not to kill their zeal, I started putting the story together. The end result was the book titled, Oba Adeleke Alaso Eye,” he said.

Adebiyi said he was also motivated to write the book because of the importance he attaches to Yoruba culture and the need to revive the dying reading culture among the youths.

“I also write the book to promote and raise public awareness at appreciating our indigenous languages and protect our culture and tradition from disintegration. One major problem facing us today is  the problem of cultural pollution.Despite the knowledge and skills we acquire on a daily basis, we are still backward because we have neglected our culture and tradition. I can tell you that Nigerians are some of the most educated people in the world more-so apart from Egypt, early African civilization started among the people of Nigeria, so today we should actually be more advanced in every area of life given our track record of institutional capacity building and knowledge acquisition if we had not neglected our indigenous languages. So writing this Yoruba book is to challenge every stakeholder, Yoruba academic scholars, parents and traditional rulers who are also the custodian of our culture on the need to once again embrace our culture.

“The second reason why I wrote the book is to promote and raise public awareness about culture of reading. We have to again cultivate the culture of reading into our daily lives, and children are the most affected in this area, children usually need to be engaged. One of the ways to engage them is to encourage them to read, most kids of today have an extremely bad reading culture.’’

On how the book was adopted by the NERDC, Adebiyi said it was just by chance. “A Nigerian professor came to Switzerland and saw the book. He was surprised   that  a Nigerian  living in Switzerland could write a Yoruba book. We later met and he brought some copies of the book  to Nigeria. That was how the Federal Ministry of Education and the NERDC got involved,” he said.

So would he abandon banking to become an author? Adebiyi said he had not decided on that yet. “ But I can tell you that I’ve been motivated to write more books by my children and by the acceptability of the first one by the Nigerian education authorities,” he said.

Adebiyi who was on holiday in Nigeria urged Nigerians to encourage the usage of indigenous languages by their children.

“I was shocked that children born and bred in Nigeria find it hard to speak our indigenous languages. This is shameful. We must preserve our national identity. One’s indigenous language fundamentally portrays his or her primary identity,  it’s the most acceptable way by which any human  being can identify with his or her root and race. The good news is that most parents are getting to understand the importance of having their children understand their mother tongue, there is the need to understand and realise that no matter how hard one tries to imitate a white man, he  can never be one,” he said.

Asked if  indigenous languages in the country could go into extinction soon, Adebiyi said some might but not Yoruba language.  “I am very optimistic that Yoruba as a race and as a language would not go into extinction, we are  a people with enormous ingenuity, well informed and diverse so extinction is not an issue at all but it’s good to raise an alarm when we observe abnormality that will always help to get us  back on the right track.

“But government should make one indigenous language compulsory. Another step one would expect from the government is the need to assemble a gathering of the best brains in the art, history, literature, linguistics, anthropology and other relevant faculty which will drive a continuous research and inventions of new words on our languages and make it available for our use. That is one way of eradicating this syndrome of combining local language with English while communicating,” he said.

“But when these words are not available on our own dictionary, the easiest escape route is the use of English to fill those gaps, so to bring our languages back to the mainstream of our society we also need to be steadfast and be consistence with whatever approach we are implementing,” he explained.

Asked to compare Nigeria’s education policy and structure with his host nation, Adebiyi said, that the only difference is in better planning and implementation and a robust improvement processes

But would he  support calls by some Nigerians that indigenous language should be adopted as a language of instruction in the nation’s universities?  Adebiyi said it was a good suggestion.

“I am in support of such initiative, on our continent that is the practice in some universities in Kenya with Swahili, in South African with Afrikaan, in Egypt, Arabic is used for lectures in most universities there, apart from that, in most of the developed countries and eastern Europe, that is the practice.  In South East Asia, it might interest you to know that 44 universities in the US teach Yoruba as a Major, why not in Nigeria? If you don’t try out new things you can’t get a new result,” he argued.

Speaking on the thematic preoccupation of the book, Adebiyi said it is just an educative prose that propagates value versus materialism for children between the age of  nine and 13 years.

January 31, 2013 |

Ogun Shines at WAEC’s Prize Giving Ceremony

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Miss Oluwabusola Majekodunmi could not hold back the tears as she was called forward to receive the First Prize in the 2006 May/June West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), during the 45th West African Examinations Council’s (WAEC), Nigeria National Committee (NNC)’s annual meeting and prize giving ceremony, held in Abeokuta, Ogun State, last week.

At the tender age of seven in 1997, the last of three children lost her father, a self-employed Chartered Accountant. Her mother, who was the Vice Principal of Badagry Grammar School, followed seven years later, during an undisclosed illness that lasted only five days. But rather than fall apart, Oluwabusola gathered herself together and faced her studies.

She said last week that the zeal to fulfil her parents wish for her, paved the way for her success.  “I had to take advantage of that situation to excel in life, rather than wallowing in self pity.”

In the year that she lost her mother, she came third in the Junior Secondary Certificate Examination (JSCE), with 11 As and two Cs. In her secondary classes, she was the best student in both Social Sciences and Commercial subjects.

In last year’s May/June West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), conducted by WAEC, Majekodunmi had A1 in all the nine subjects she registered for – Commerce, Financial Accounting, Economics, Literature in English, English Language, Yoruba Language, Mathematics, Biology, as well as Food and Nutrition. With this, she emerged the overall best candidate in the examination, winning the Council’s National Distinction Award.

The former student of All Saints College, Ibadan hopes to study Economics if offered admission. She told THISDAY she had written the Universities Matriculation Examination, last year and this year, in which she scored 261 and 286, respectively, but was not admitted into her two university choices – Universities of Lagos and Ibadan.

In her brief remark, she thanked God and her grandmother, whom she said toiled day and night to ensure she got what her parents wanted for her. “My grand mother has been very supportive and encouraging. Though I did not have all the texts, she tried the best she could to make sure I succeeded in life. I owe my gratitude to her and the Almighty God who said ‘you can do all things through His name’.”

Her grandmother, Mrs. Elizabeth Adepegba, who spoke in her native language, Yoruba, amidst tears, said she was grateful to God for Majekodunmi’s achievement. Her only wish, she added, was if only her daughter, Oluwayemisi, were alive to savour her daughter’s success.

Master Aman Arora, a former student of Saint Gloria’s College, Lagos, who could not make it to the award ceremony, came second with A1s in all the eight subjects he sat for; Economics, Geography, English Language, Further Mathematics, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The 18-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Jalaj Arora is presently studying Petrochemical Engineering in Marashatral Institute of Technology in his home country, India.

For Miss Oluwadetan Oyedele, the third place winner, a prize-giving ceremony she attended in Mayflower School Ikenne, while in Junior Secondary School I, changed her attitude towards her studies. In the ceremony, she said a particular lanky boy, whose name she could not remember, carted away all the prizes in all the subjects he offered.

“From that moment, I said to myself, if he could do it, then certainly I too could. From that day on, I read like I had never done before, just to come out tops like the Mayflower boy.” This magic actually worked for her, as she maintained the first position in all her examinations and tests, from that term and throughout her secondary school.

She represented her school in National competitions and won awards for her alma mater. The former student of Regal College, Ogun State clinched the third position with A1s in eight subjects- Economics, Geography, English Language, Further Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, while she had a F9 in French Language. The second of three children is also a first year student of Computer Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife. She hopes to beat Bill Gates’ creativity in the computer world in the near future.

Presenting the awards, the executive governor of Ogun state Otunba Gbenga Daniels, who was overwhelmed by their performances, gave automatic scholarships to the first and third place winners, who, incidentally, are from his state.

The Governor, who was also moved to tears by Majekodunmi’s story, said he would ensure she gets an automatic employment in any establishment of her choice on graduation. He commended the Council for effective and quality service delivery. “It pleases me to note that in spite of the myriad of challenges in the education sector, the Council has remained a symbol of success in regional cooperation among English speaking countries of West African. I congratulate this Committee and the Management of the Council on both your internet result-checking facility and the electronic registration for both the schools and private candidates’ examinations.


Culled from: This Day Online

November 28, 2007 |
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