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Giving 45,000 Nigerian Children Quality Education via OPM Free Schools

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By Emmanuel Afonne, (NAN)

For the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on education and training modalities by 2030, will be a herculean task in Nigeria.

According to the two UN organisations, one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria, while about 10.

5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in school even though primary education is officially free and compulsory.

In the same vein, infographics from Lauretta Onochie, Social Media Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, however, said that the number had dropped from 10.

5 million to 8.6 million.

Whatever be the case, statistics show that only 61 percent of six to 11-year-olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 percent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education which, they said, was the major reason the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of achieving Universal Primary Education (UPE) by 2015 failed.

To narrow it down, states in the North-East and North-West are the worst hit with female primary net attendance rates of 47.7 percent and 47.3 percent, respectively, meaning that more than half of the girls are not in school.

The cause of education deprivation in northern Nigeria and some parts of the South is, however, not far-fetched.

The Boko Haram attacks and the mayhem unleashed by bandits and killer herdsmen on most of the Nigerian communities have made lots of children drop out of school and thereby putting a snag in government efforts to achieve the SDG 4 by 2030.

Economic barriers and socio-cultural norms and practices are also stumbling blocks to acquiring formal education, especially for girls, and by extension the UN development goals.

Interestingly, the General overseer of Omega Power Ministries (OPM), and the President of OPM Foundation, Apostle Dr Chibuzor Gift Chinyere, have set “Operation Get 45,000 Children Back to School”.

The operation is aimed at ensuring that children of the less privileged from Northern and Southern parts of the country have access to free and complete quality education, within a safe learning environment.

This explains why Apostle Chinyere has built eleven free primary and secondary schools with the state-of-the-art facilities and the pupils and students given four pairs of free school uniform, free school shoes and free school books.

The schools are presently located in Rivers, Bayelsa and Abia.

The students and pupils are also given beverages (Milk and Milo) on regular occasion to compliment the schools free feeding programme.

He said: “Just like the United Nations is advocating, our programme ensures that education is prioritised and that it is targeted at children who are least likely to receive it.

“Our free schools are fully funded through the offerings and tithes received from our members in over 150 branches of the church within and outside the country.

“We want to assist the Federal Government in actualising the SDG by 2030 to make sure all the children have access and quality education, skills and knowledge for lifelong learning,” Apostle Chinyere said.

Seeing the less privileged parents squeeze out their hard earned little money to send their wards to school in spite government’s perceived free education unsettles.

Another free school is presently being constructed in Kaduna to ensure the less privileged in the Northern part of the country are not left out as Nigeria march towards achieving the SDG 4 by 2030.

Apostle Chinyere is taking the gesture to the next level; apart from establishing free primary and secondary schools, the man of God is constructing an all-girls’ free technical college which, he said, would be completed by December this year.

There is no doubt that the federal and state governments have made frantic efforts to ensure that there is free education from primary to junior secondary schools across the nation, but there is still a snag as parents still pay about N2,000 to get their wards go to school every term.

For instance, in some schools parents are forced to pay between N500 and N1,000 for school charge, Parents Teachers Association (PTA) dues and data (usually for computing of results) every term to attend the so called free public schools of government, but it is interesting to note that the cost of attending the OPM free schools is absolutely free.

Apostle Chinyere is saying it to the high heavens that everything in the OPM schools is “absolutely free”.

“We have four sets of school uniforms, school sandals, free school books, free lunch and free school bags. The pupils also go on international excursion; like the last time, they were in Paris.”

This is the reason the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), honoured him with the “Icon of Free Education Award”.

Mr Robin Nwokocha, Chairman of NANS, Rivers chapter, who presented the award to Apostle Chinyere on behalf of the national president, said the award came as a result of his commitment to the education of the less privileged children.

Apostle Chibuzor, who appreciated NANS for the award said that apart from the free schools, the church had also given scholarships to five students studying in Canada. He said three others are due to join before the end of the year.

In his words: “We also have a scholarship programme where we send undergraduate students to Canada to study; another three are due to travel soon.

“We also have a local scholarship for undergraduates here in Nigeria because of this, NANS leadership decided to give me an award of Icon of Free Education in Nigeria.

“I thank God for them; this is the first time NANS is recognising my impact in education for the less privileged.”

Apostle Chinyere may be getting close to becoming an Ambassador of the UN going by his humanitarian activities.

The aim of UNICEF’s education programme is to support the government in achieving SDG 4 by 2030 through improved planning and by addressing some of the systemic barriers that hinder the implementation of an effective education strategy.

The OPM founder seems to be keying into this opportunity to the benefit of the Nigerian child. He would not want the opportunity of attaining the UN development goal on education by 2030 to elude Nigeria like the MDG.

He is seeking to collaborate with the Federal Government, UNESCO, UNICEF and other agencies for this objective to be realised.

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Education

NBTE Begins Accreditation of New Courses in Federal Polytechnic Wannue

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The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), has commenced accreditation exrceise for six new courses at the Federal Polytechnic, Wannue, Tarka Local Government Area of Benue.

Mr Ogah Ngbede, NBTE’s Director of Polytechnics Programmes, disclosed this on Thursday during the ongoing exrceise in the institution.

According to Ngbede,  all the courses would be inspected before making a pronouncement.

He said that the exercise would last for two days,  after which its decision would be made known.

He added that the institution secured full accreditation for two out of the five courses it presented to NBTE in 2023.

“We are here to look at the claims made by the institution because they have requested to commence some new programmes.

”We are here to ensure that the right thing is done and ensure that this polytechnic is not regarded or treated as a second grade institution,”he said.

The director, who decried poor funding of polytechnic education in Nigeria, called on goverment at all levels to ensure adequate funds were allocated to the education sector.

“The major problem affecting polytechnic education in this country is finance.

”Let me  use this opportunity to call on the government at all levels to inject more funds into the polytechnic system.

“Technical education is a low hanging fruit from which this country can use to escape poverty; technical education all over the world has become a major currency with which nations are using to escape poverty.

“When we pay adequate attention to our polytechnics, students that graduate from these institutions can hit the ground running because they have the necessary tools to be job providers and not job seekers”, he said

Earlier, the Rector of the institution, Dr Tyover Ashinya, listed the courses presented for accreditation to include, Business Management, Public Administration, Agricultural Technology, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering and Computer Science

He said that the institution has the adequate manpower and infrastructures to effectively run the six new courses.

”We are willing to improve on all necessary areas that need improvement to enable these new courses secure full accreditation,”the Rector said.

Reports says that the institution was established by the Federal Government in December 2020. (NAN)

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FG Set to Revolutionise Educational Infrastructure with N98.2 bn – Edun

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By Tony Obiechina,  Abuja 

The Federal Government has announced the ground-breaking ceremony for the building of a 1,600-capacity student hostel in Akwa Ibom State.

This project is part of a N98.2 billion nationwide initiative to enhance educational infrastructure.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun who disclosed this said the Federal Government, in partnership with states and the private sector, will construct 24 housing facilities across 24 institutions, each with 1,600 bed spaces.

 

According to a statement by Mohammed Manga, Director of Information & Public Relations, the initiative is aimed at addressing a significant student accommodation deficit, enhancing student performance and well-being.

It is also a testament to the sophistication and depth of our local capital markets

Represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Special Duties Mr Okokon Ekanem Udo, the Minister added that

“this initiative invests in our youth and educational infrastructure, ensuring that tomorrow’s leaders have the resources and environment they need to thrive.

“It also demonstrates the private sector’s willingness and capacity to partner with government to deliver critical infrastructure projects across all geopolitical zones, to reduce the housing deficit*, Wale Edun said.

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FG in Land-Swap Deal to boost Literacy Education in Kano

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By Eddy Ochigbo, Abuja

In a renewed move to enhance sustainable growth in education, the federal government has concluded plans to embark on 13 new infrastructure projects at the National Mass Literacy and Adult Education Commission (NMEC), Kano Centre, through Public/Private Partnership (PPP).

Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, disclosed this on Tuesday at a stakeholders’ engagement and sensitisation meeting in Abuja to kick start the proposed land-swap deal for the development of critical infrastructure in Kano.

 

According to him, the public private partnership project would mark a turning point  in literacy education of adults across the country, regretting that it was unfortunate that Nigeria still had a significant number of adults who are either illiterate or have limited literacy skills.

 This major challenge, he said hinders the nation’s overall development and progress.

“This is another milestone and progress in the ministry, and we will be having it with private public partnership, and this is also part of President Bola Tinubu’s eight-point agenda.Government cannot do it alone and everyone of us needs this as stakeholders to bring development and move the country forward. We have a regulation guiding us which we will use to ensure that the plots that have laid fallow over the years are put to best use in our time,” he said.

While stressing the need to regulate teaching in the country, specifically to guide teaching and teaching practice, Sununu  revealed that  the 13 new infrastructure  projects – semi-detached two and three bedroom bungalows, state-of- the-art classrooms, clinic, library, hostels, a lecture theatre and recreational facilities, among others  – would  change the fortunes of the National Mass Literacy and Adult Commission, Kano centre, which has been lying fallow in the last 39 years.

“The projects would not only enhance learning at the centre, but would also provide a conducive environment for entrepreneurship in the centre. The Kano Centre of the National Mass Literacy Centre plays a crucial role in addressing this challenge by providing literacy education to adults across the country.

However, to effectively fulfil its mandate and reach more people, it is essential to have the necessary infrastructure and resources in place. This is where the proposed development of 13 critical infrastructures through land swap Public-Private Partnership comes into play. Through this innovative approach, we will be able to leverage the expertise, resources and capabilities of the private sector to create modern and functional learning facilities for the Centre,” Sununu enthused. 

On his part, the Executive Secretary, NMEC, Prof. Simon Akpama, expressed confidence that through collective efforts and sustained collaboration between the public and private sector the growth of education would make a significant impact on the lives of a cross section of Nigerians. He said the initiative would also empower youths and adults to contribute their quota to national development.

Meanwhile,  DAILY ASSET gathered that MASLAHA Homes and Development Limited, a leading Kano-based Real Estate company, which proposed the land-swap deal, has the capacity to design, finance and build the 13 new critical education infrastructure and assets for the Kano Centre of National Mass Literacy within the scheduled timeframe. 

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