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Education Sector: FG Invests N1.3trl in Four Years

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As CBN plans support for Diagnostic Centres

By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, reiterated his administration’s commitment to providing quality of education in the country.

The President gave the assurance when he inaugurated the newly completed Post-Graduate Centre of Excellence at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, constructed and donated to the school by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Before unveiling the commemorative plaque to formally inaugurate the edifice that sits on a total floor area of 34,102.81sqm, President Buhari said the construction of the project was a testimony to his administration’s effort at supporting qualitative learning from the primary through to the tertiary level. According to him, his administration, in the past four years, had invested about N1.3 trillion in the educational sector of the country, excluding personnel and overhead costs.

The President assured that his administration, in its second term, in spite of funding challenges, will continue to accord education priority by ensuring adequate funding for the sector to make it affordable, qualitative and competitive with what was obtainable in more developed countries.

While lauding the vision of the late Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello in establishing the university, he commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for supporting the Federal Government’s investments in the educational sector as well as other keys areas of the economy tied to overall national development, he urged the Bank to sustain such funding support for research and overall economic development.

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Welcoming the President to the complex earlier, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele said the Bank’s involvement in the funding and infrastructural support in the educational sector was borne out of the conviction that an educated workforce played a critical role in the advancement of the Nigerian economy and the society in general.

He said the Bank’s analysis of the factors responsible for the growth of successful economies, indicated that investment in education played a prominent role in driving innovation and growth in advanced and emerging economies, while also contributing to significant reductions in inequality. Hence, he said the CBN, being a knowledge-driven organization, had to ensure the sustenance of improvements in institutions of higher learning across the country.

The Centre of Excellence, according to the apex bank boss, was also designed to accommodate the Central Bank of Nigeria Collaborative Postgraduate Programme (CBN-CPP), which he described as a child of necessity in the Bank’s intervention programme in the educational sub-sector. He explained that the project was conceived to produce a critical mass of skilled professionals that will be able to apply their knowledge towards supporting growth and continued innovation in our nation’s financial sector and the economy in general. “This was against the recognition that the dearth of skilled manpower constituted a binding constraint towards making Nigeria the number 1 hub for economic activity in Africa, he added.

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He also disclosed that the three first generation federal universities in the country across the six geo-political zones (Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, University of Ibadan (UI), Ibadan and the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka) were selected under the first phase of the intervention programme. He added that the programme was later expanded to cover six other tertiary institutions across Nigeria, which are nearing completion.

He added that the project was mainly to ensure that students at post-graduate levels in Economics, Accounting, Banking and Finance, Business Administration and Statistics study in a serene environment that would stimulate effective learning with a view to building human capacity for the financial services sub-sector.

Emefiele assured that the CBN, working closely with all the participating universities, had taken steps to ensure that this investment yields considerable benefits. Specifically, he said the curricula for the target disciplines had been reviewed and harmonized across board to ensure students are provided with the optimum level of knowledge relative to their peers in other parts of the globe.

“We believe that the Centres of Excellence will help support the government’s efforts towards reducing the incidence of brain drain, and curtail the huge foreign exchange being spent on school fees for Nigerians studying in other countries,” Emefiele said.

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While disclosing that the three Centres of Excellence in Zaria, Enugu and Ibadan will commence operation in October 2019, he said the CBN expected the universities to take maximum advantage of the world class facilities provided by the Bank to challenge their counterparts in London, New York and Dubai in the provision of training programmes in banking and finance-related disciplines for the global business community

He also thanked stakeholders in the Federal Ministry of Education, National Universities Commission (NUC), the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the contractor, Messrs Afdin Nigeria Limited, for their support in completing the project, stressing that such collaborations were necessary for progress.

The Post-Graduate School project, similar to the project inaugurated by President Buhari at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC) in January 2019, comprises a Faculty building and a block of rooms, as well as a 544-seater auditorium, four lecture and four tutorial rooms, traditional and e-libraries, and a telepresence room.

Meanwhile, the CBN Governor has disclosed plans by the Bank, in the near future, to also provide funding support for the health sector in the country, through the establishment of six diagnostic centres across the geo-political zones of the country.

He said the decision of the Bank to support the health sector was based on the realization that education and health formed the bedrock of development in any society.

Education

Education Minister Promises Equity, Fairness over Unity Colleges Admissions

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By Evelyn Terseer, Abuja. 

As Principals of the Nation’s 110 Unity Colleges converge on Benin city, the Edo State capital to kick-start this year’s admission, Education Minister, Adamu Adamu has directed that they must be guided by the principles of fairness,equity and good conscience in the conduct of the admission exercise. 

In a message to the body of Principals handling the exercise, the Minister emphasized that every part of the country must be given a sense of belonging in the admission exercise, adding that the process must reflect the ideals of the founding fathers of unity colleges as centers of academic excellence and models for states and private schools as well as instruments for National integration and unity.

In a message delivered at the opening ceremony on  behalf of the Minister, the Director Senior Secondary Education, Hajia Binta  Abdulkadir said that; if we are to produce responsible citizens, we must stick to the rules in order to make the right choices of qualified candidates as a foundation for future academic excellence.

The Minister reminded the principals that they should stick to the National policy of the ratio of one teacher to forty students per class in line with UNESCO regulations, adding that carrying capacity must be adhered to.

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Adamu Adamu emphasized that candidates who have applied for admission into Unity schools outside of their immediate communities should be given Priority.

The Minister directed Principals to adhere strictly to the criteria for the selection which is 60percent National merit, 30percent equality of states and 10percent exigency.

Earlier in her welcome address , the Chairperson of Principals of Federal Unity colleges who is also the Principal of Queens Collage Lagos,Dr T. F. O Yakubu-Oyinloye said government’s guidelines on merit and equality of states will be followed strictly so as to get the best candidates for the Nation’s Unity Colleges. 

One of the highlights of the opening ceremony was a guided tour of the host college, Federal Government Girls College Benin, which is wearing a brand new look, more like a University campus than a secondary school. 

The Principal of the collage Mrs Aghedo Osamediame who led her colleagues on the guided tour said, the brand new look of the college has been made possible courtesy of the intervention of the Ministry.

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Education

NECO Declares Sallah Day Exams Free

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By Evelyn Terseer, Abuja 

The National Examinations Council (NECO) has stated that it has not scheduled any examination for Saturday 9th July, 2022.

This is contrary to insinuations in some quarters that the Council has scheduled examination for 9th July, 2022, which is Sallah Day (Eid- Adha).

The Council emphasised it consciousness of the importance of religious festivals, and they always make adequate provision for such in fixing examination dates.

In the statement by the Head of Information and Public Relations Division, Azeez Sani, the Council has given a whole examination free week, beginning from Friday, 8th July to Wednesday, 13th July, 2022 in the On-going Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) for School based candidates to enable Muslim faithful have enough time to celebrate the festival.

It would be recalled that the 2022 Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) for School based Candidates commenced on 27th June, and will end on 12th August, 2022.

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Education

 UNICEF Reveals 226,000 Grave Violations Against Children

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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
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By Evelyn Terseer, Abuja. 

Between 2005 and 2020, the United Nations verified over 266,000 grave violations against children committed by parties to conflict in more than 30 conflict situations across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America,

 According to UNICEF, this figure is a fraction of the violations believed to have occurred, as access and security constraints, among others, and the shame, pain, and fear that child and family survivors suffer often hamper the reporting, documentation and verification of grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict.

West and Central Africa is the region with the second highest number of verified violations since 2005 with more than 67,000 verified grave violations, accounting for a quarter of all violations globally. In the Central Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger), conflict and insecurity have been major drivers of population displacement, which has put children further at risk of grave violations.

In these three countries, the number of verified grave violations increased by 40 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the last quarter of 2021. Hundreds of civilians, including children, have been killed in recent attacks in Burkina Faso and Mali. 

UNICEF emphasized that 25 years of children and armed conflict:Taking action to protect children in war – found that between 2005 and 2020 in West and Central Africa more than 7,600 children have been verified as killed or maimed in situations of armed conflict; over 42,000 children have been verified as recruited and used by parties to conflict; at least 4,800 children have been verified as abducted by parties to conflict; parties to conflict have raped, forcibly married, sexually exploited, and committed other grave forms of sexual violence against at least 8,000 children.

 The United Nations verified more than 2,500 incidents of attacks against schools and hospitals and verified no fewer than 1,900 incidents of denial of humanitarian access for children since 2005 in West and Central Africa.

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In Nigeria there were 391 verified cases of grave violations against 306 children. These violations mainly occurred in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States and were attributed to ISWAP and other armed groups. This is a 56 per cent increase in the number of grave violations against children (208) verified in 2020.

In most conflict areas in the West and Central Africa region, civilians continue to be targeted. This includes the deliberate targeting of frontline humanitarian workers who are finding it more difficult to deliver life-saving services and supplies to children in large parts of the Central Sahel and other conflict-affected areas of the region.

“Behind each of the violations detailed in the report is a child, his or her family and members of a community whose lives are torn apart, sometimes forever. We cannot remain indifferent and silent. The killing, abduction, and rape of girls and boys are horrific crimes. The increase in verified grave violations in the Central Sahel over the last quarter and their devastating impact on the wellbeing of children shows the need and importance of continuing our efforts to provide care to the victims and advocate for their immediate end. Attacks on civilians including children must be stopped and all measures for their protection, including during military operations, must be taken,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

Based on sixteen years of data from the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict, the report illustrates the impact that armed conflicts have had on children, by presenting trends of grave violations across the world and over time. The report examines how information on the documented patterns of grave violations is being used to respond to children’s needs and how engagement with parties to conflict – State and non-State actors alike enables ending and preventing grave violations.

The annual number of verified violations in the world has gradually increased since 2005, surpassing 20,000 in a year for the first time in 2014 and reaching 26,425 in 2020. Between 2016 and 2020, the daily global average of verified grave violations stood at an alarming 71 violations. The elevated number of violations observed in recent years demonstrates the dramatic impact that armed conflict and increasingly complex and protracted protection crises have on children.

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The report notes that many children suffer from more than one violation, increasing their vulnerability. For example, abduction is often combined with or leads to other violations, particularly recruitment and use and sexual violence. Children especially girls who have been abducted and/or associated with parties to conflict are exposed to elevated risks of sexual violence, including rape, sexual exploitation and forced marriage.

The report found that grave violations against children were committed by States and non-State actors alike underscoring the importance of engagement with all parties to conflict, to meaningfully end and prevent violations against children.

In order to bolster accountability, parties to conflict listed in the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict develop and implement Action Plans with specific, concrete, and time-bound actions to establish sustainable measures to protect children from the impact of conflict. Between 2005 and 2021, a total of 16 Action Plans have been signed by parties to conflict in 6 conflict situations. 

14 Action Plans were signed with non-State actors, with the remaining 2 were signed with State actors. The report lays out several examples highlighting the critical value and impact of Action Plans in bringing about positive change for children, both in the immediate and long terms, as well as outlining challenges and obstacles.

The ever-growing number of armed non-State actors, the development and employment of new means and methods of warfare, the use of improvised explosive devices and other explosive weapons, particularly in populated areas, are just some of the many factors contributing to the creation of unprecedented challenges for the protection of children in situations of armed conflict.

It is important to note that the increase in verified violations over time also underscores the increasing strength of the monitoring and reporting mechanism over the years. The development of guidance on monitoring and reporting, the training and capacity building of UN and its partners’ staff on documenting grave violations, and the awareness raising of families and communities on the protection risks for children, have all contributed to strengthen the mechanism and enabled it to collect increased information on grave violations against children.

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Whilst the overall ability of the United Nations to document and verify incidents of grave violations has increased over time, it has fluctuated from one year to another, from one situation to another, and from one violation to another. In this regard, and based on all of the above, direct comparisons between situations, years, or violations should be undertaken with caution.

“Major humanitarian crises continue to unfold across West and Central Africa. The situation in Cameroon, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and multi-country emergencies, including crises in the Central Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin region, are having devastating consequences on children and communities. Beyond the consequences for the victims, grave violations of children’s rights are often accompanied by massive population displacements that increase the vulnerability of thousands of people and expose more children to other risks of violence,” said Ms. Poirier.

The report recommendations, based on the evidence and analysis presented, aim to mobilize all concerned stakeholders, including parties to conflict, States, and the UN Security Council, to effectively and sustainably protect children and to accelerate action at local, national, regional, and global levels.

In addition to calling on parties to conflict, and states, to abide by their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, the report includes recommendations on how to better provide adequate care and response services to children affected by conflict,ways to improve data disaggregation and analysis for better response and prevention,how to support Country Task Forces on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMRs) to accelerate action, and improve CTFMR engagement with governments and ways to better engage with parties to conflict to develop Action Plans and sustainably protect children.

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