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Oyo Govt. Suspends 3 Over Alleged Sexual Harassment in School

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The Oyo State Government has suspended three staff members of the Oyo State Basic School, Ogbomoso, over alleged sexual harassment.

This is contained in a statement, signed by the State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Rahman Abdu-Raheem, and made available to newsmen on Friday in Ibadan.

The Headteacher, Oyo State Basic School, Ogbomoso, and the Principal, Oyo State Training School for the Blind, have also been transferred.

The commissioner, his counterpart at the Women Affairs, the Executive Adviser on Disability, Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Representatives of Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board visited the school.

The visit was to ascertain the causes of the agitation and the needs of the special students.

Abdu-Raheem revealed that the suspension and transfer were Oyo State Government’s response to a recent viral video of unrest in the school.

He said that the immediate action would enhance free and unbiased investigations by a four-man probe committee put in place.

The commissioner emphasized that the various letters issued to the suspended staff took immediate effect, so as to restore peace in the school.

Abdu-Raheem warned school principals, head teachers and other staff members to desist from all compromising acts that could jeopardize the efforts of the Gov. Seyi Makinde-led administration.

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He assured parents and other stakeholders of constant unannounced monitoring of all schools in the State, urging parents, students and other relevant stakeholders to support and partner with the government, assuring them of government’s continuous transformation of the state education sector.

Abdu-Raheem listed the affected Headteacher as Mrs Adebiyi Racheal, while the Principal is Mrs. Akanbi Oluwaseun. (NAN)

Education

Unical medical student emerges winner of music show, YouCanSing Season 2

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A 20 year-old medical student from the University of Calabar (Unical), Miss Divine Great, has emerged winner of the second edition of the YouCanSing music show in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the music show Season 2 started on Oct.

3, 2021 with over 200 applicants from all over the country.

The Edo born Great beat MarySavio Okundo from Ebonyi and Petra Alare from Delta, who finished as the first and second runners up respectively.

Great expressed gratitude to her mother who she described as both her inspiration and manager, adding that she supported her every step of the way.

“I am not a fan of Facebook, but the day I decided to go online, I saw the advert and showed my mum who then advised and encouraged me to participate in the show.

“At first, I wondered how I was going to cope with the show, especially with my studies which was very demanding and took most of my time.

“However, with my mum’s support, I was able to pull through with all the challenges that came with the show and I am so glad that all my efforts paid off at the end of the day,” she said.

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Great also expressed her gratitude to the organisers of the show for the opportunity to showcase her talent as well as fans who voted for her during the course of the show.

Richmond Atu-Johnson, the host of the show said that out of the over 200 contestants, only 96 made it to the live show.

“The show celebrated Nigeria’s 61st independence as contestants were made to sing a song celebrating Nigeria at 61.

“The show had four stages and seven contestants made it to the penultimate stage,” he said.

According to him, Great won the N5 million naira prize money, while Okundo and Alare, the runners up received music contract deals from Cityhill Records, one of the partners of the show.

“They also received full music scholarship training at Cityhill Music Academy,” he said.

NAN also reports that the second season of the YouCanSing show, unlike the first, was broadcast live on TSTV cable network and NTA Entertainment. (NAN)

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Education

Digital Innovation: NITDA to hold Hackathon challenge

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), says it will organise editions of its national Hackathon challenge in three states.

The three states are Adamawa, Oyo and Cross River.

Mrs Hadiza Umar, Head, the Corporate Affairs and External Relations of the agency, who made this known in a statement on Monday in Abuja, said the gesture was to drive digital innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NITDA Hackathon challenge is a national event held in collaboration with academic institutions.

The aim is to drive digital innovation and entrepreneurship targeted at challenging Nigerian youths to ideate and develop solutions from inception through commercialisation process.

Umar said the challenge, expected to hold this month, would be coordinated by its subsidiary, the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence (NCAIR).

In Adamawa, she said the first edition would hold in Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, from Jan. 18 to Jan. 20, the second edition would be in the University of Ibadan from Jan. 25 to Jan. 27.

According to her, the third edition is expected to hold at the University of Calabar, Cross River from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

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“The hackathon is set to develop and grow a global network of IT experts, comprising Nigerian youths within the country and in the diaspora.

“It is targeted at inculcating entrepreneurship spirit in academia, creating a platform where industry and public institutions will leverage the academic research ecosystem to solve national challenges using technology.

“This year, the focus is on agriculture, security and logistics,” she said.

According to her, the challenge is open to all students, entrepreneurs and innovators, while the successful startups’ groups in each category will be awarded cash prizes and will have the opportunity to develop their idea further for commercialisation with NITDA’s support.

She urged interested Nigerian youths to visit the link: https://bit.ly/32FshGF.

The NCAIR is one of NITDA’s special purpose vehicles created to promote research and development on emerging technologies and their practical application in areas of national interest.

NCAIR is also focused on creating a thriving ecosystem for innovation-driven entrepreneurship (IDE), job creation, and national development. (NAN)

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Education

The Private University as Enterprise: Limits of Academic Capitalism

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By Jibrin Ibrahim

Last week, I attended a Convening on Higher Education in Africa, organised by Professor Toyin Falola of the University of Texas at Austin. The conference held at Babcock University and focused on the theme of the impact of private universities on public universities in Africa.

Participants were drawn from university faculty, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), education regulators, founders, donors, students, and independent researchers from Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and Nigeria. It was an exciting debate on the complex relationship between the public and private sectors in higher education.

The original argument for the establishment of private universities was to create more access for students but the reality today is that the private sector has not substantially increased access. In addition, private universities have not really recruited and trained their own faculty, they poaches from the public sector for staff and are dependent on moonlighting. The terrible story that has emerged is that many public university lecturers that are rarely seen by their students go to teach students in the private sector with assiduity and devotion for the extra money. The raison d’être of private universities, at least in Nigeria, is that public universities are perpetually on strike and parents need universities where their children can study, fully covering the syllabus and not spending more than the required number of years before graduation. This is being achieved and already the age of graduands of private universities is significantly lower than that of the public sector.

Nigeria currently has a total of 198 universities, half of which, 99, are private. The private universities however host only about 10 per cent of the total students in the country. The breakdown of the universities is as follows:

45 Federal Universities with 1,310,825 students = 62.4 per cent.

54 State Universities with 578,936 students = 27.5 per cent.

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55 Private (Christian) Universities with 98,358 students = 4.68 per cent.

5 Private (Muslim) Universities with 29,984 students = 1.4 per cent.

39 Private (Secular) Universities with 81,908 students = 3.9 per cent.

A couple of years ago, we carried out research with the Institute of Education of the University of London on universities as a public good in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Our findings showed a deep commitment by the governments and people of these countries to higher education as a public good that the state should bear responsibility for. The system worked as an elite model up till the 1980s, when the demand for access grew and in the process of rapid and significant expansion, massification developed. The governing elites in these countries responded with their feet, taking their children out of public sector universities on the grounds that quality had fallen, and sending them abroad. Those who could not afford foreign universities demanded for the establishment of private universities in their countries and the outcome is a two-tier system, essentially separating the children of the elite from those of the general people.

At the Babcock Conference, Dr Hannah Muzee of the University of Cape Town described this era we are in as one of academic capitalism, because many of the proprietors of private universities conceive of their organisations as enterprises that provide a service but should also produce profit. The consensus at the conference is that in Nigeria, not all private universities see their mission as profit making. Nonetheless, they are seen as enterprises that should, at least, break even. So far, that is not happening. Most private universities are making heavy losses. The reason is simple. I discussed with a number of proprietors and Vice Chancellors of private universities and their story is that the student base they have is too small to support the huge land acquisition, infrastructure development, security, construction and bank loan costs that they have incurred. In the coming years, many will collapse as bankrupt businesses, because although they charge high fees, the fees are too low to support their costs.

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The real problematic they face is not with public universities in Nigeria. The Nigerian university system is complex and class based and operates in an international environment in which many within the elite send their children abroad for their education. According to the United Kingdom’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), Nigeria was the third non-European Union country sending the highest number of students to the UK. In 2009/10, it had 16,680 students in its higher institutions and in 2010/11, there were 17,585 Nigerian students in those institutions, ranking only behind India and China. The United Kingdom has been actively soliciting for Nigerian fee-paying students for decades, with each student paying, on average, £12,000 each just for tuition. It was the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Muhammadu Sanusi II, who first drew attention to the cost of education of elite children abroad. He said there were about 71,000 Nigerian students in Ghanaian tertiary institutions and they spent about US$1 billion on tuition and upkeep at that time: “The tuition paid by Nigerian students studying in Ghana with a better organised education system is more than the annual budget of all federal universities in the country.”

A fraction of the amount spent by the elite on their children abroad would be enough to adequately fund higher education in Nigeria. This is what led us to the current paradox in which progressive Nigerians insist that the government must fully fund public universities, but as the elite know that the university system is broken, they vote with their feet and send their children abroad for university education. According to the International Educational Exchange data released by the Institute of International Education (IIE), there were 11,710 Nigerian students pursuing their educational goals in the United States in 2017. When you add the numbers of Nigerian students in Malaysia, Canada, South Africa, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Hungary, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Cyprus and Germany, it is easy to see why private universities in Nigeria have been squeezed out of resources. There is a political economy crisis generated by the fact that the Nigerian elite place massive amounts of money in foreign universities, undermining both public and private universities in Nigeria.

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Essentially, our elite has made nonsense of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which provides that:

Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels

Government shall promote science and technology

Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy; and to this end, Government shall as and when practicable provide:

Free, Compulsory and Universal Primary Education;

Free University Education; and

Free Adult Literacy Programme.

As a nation, we have decided to divert the resources for these to foreign institutions.

The Babcock Convening had drawn out battles between ASUU activists, who see the private universities as the problem, and the private university warriors who see ASUU as the ogre that has killed the public universities with their strikes, forcing the need to go private. I think it would be useful to orient the discussion towards establishing the costs that Nigerians pay to fund and support foreign university budgets. Consciousness of the vastness of the expenditure might push us towards reflecting on how some of the said resources can be used to revive the Nigerian university system. Academic capitalism is not local, it is global. The university as enterprise is not in Nigeria, it is abroad.

A professor of Political Science and development consultant/expert, Jibrin Ibrahim is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development, and Chair of the Editorial Board of PREMIUM TIMES.

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