Akeredolu denies abolishing free education in Ondo

Akeredolu

Contrary to the reports trending in the media, the Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said his government never announced cancellation of free education for public schools students in the state.

The governor made the position known through a statement released to journalists by his Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Yemi Olowolabi, in Akure on Monday.

The consensuses reached at the 2017 Ondo State Summit held in Akure last week, among which was a recommendation to the government to restrict free tuition to the public primary schools only, while students in secondary and tertiary institutions pay for their education, had triggered the insinuation that the state had decide to introduce fees across all levels of education in the state.

But, according to Olowolabi’s statement, the state was yet to consider or approve any of the recommendations made to it in the communique issued after the summit.

Assuring the people of the state that their welfare was paramount in the governor’s heart, Olowolabi said the recommendations will soon be tabled before the State’s Executive Council for proper consideration in the interest of the people.

“The communiqué from the summit is as a result of the summary of the views of all the stakeholders in the education sector in the state and over 2,000 stakeholders drawn from all walks of life participated in the two-day summit.

“It is expected that at the end of any summit, there is a communiqué, but it should be noted that the communiqué from the summit is not yet the position of the government or government policy.

“Expectedly, the state Commissioner for Education, whose ministry organised the summit, will ultimately present the communiqué to the State Executive Council, where every point in it will be thoroughly discussed and debated before government takes a position,” the statement read in part.

Group condemns suspension of member, others by OAU

OAU

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has condemned the suspension of its National Secretary, Omole Ibukun, and three others by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife’s management over their participation in a recent protest at the university.

The group, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Hassan Taiwo Soweto, sought immediate and unconditional release of the affected students.

See the statement below:

PRESS STATEMENT

OAU: SUSPENSION OF STUDENTS’ LEADERS FOR PARTICIPATING IN PEACEFUL PROTEST AGAINST POOR WELFARE CONDITIONS BY MANAGEMENT IS UNJUSTIFIABLE AND CONDEMNABLE

  • FOR IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL REINSTATEMENT OF IBK AND OTHER VICTIMISED STUDENTS

We in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemn the suspension of 4 students activists and  leaders of the students’ union of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, over students’ protest against power outage and poor living and learning conditions. This latest suspension brings to 8 the total number of students activists that have so far been victimized in the last few months.

One of those suspended is Omole Ibukun (aka IBK). He is the National Secretary of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) – an organization committed to struggles for improved funding of education and democratic management of schools.

We hereby demand immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Omole Ibukun – the National Secretary of Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Jacob Tosin – Vice President of Students Union, Oluwalade Babatunde – Chairman Students’ Transport Management Committee and Udeh John, who were suspended for joining other students to protest deleterious conditions on campus of the university. We also demand the recall of the 4 post-graduate students earlier suspended for peacefully protesting against extension of their programme and increment in fees. We call for a halt to further victimization and attacks on students democratic rights. Freedom of expression and assembly are inalienable rights.

We appeal to the Governing Council and the visitor to the University to call Prof. Ogunmodede to order. This is a Vice Chancellor that has not spent up to 6 months in office and he has already suspended a total of 8 students (4 undergraduate and 4 post graduate) for peacefully protesting against anti-student policies. We also urge the mass of OAU students, staff unions in the university, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), trade unions and all Nigerians who hold fundamental rights to freedom of thought and speech in high esteem to support the demand for immediate and unconditional reinstatement of the suspended students and improved conditions of learning and living in the university.

We reiterate our position in the ERC that victimizing students’ activists – who raise concerns over the degeneration of academic infrastructures, quality of learning and mismanagement of University funds – is despotic and an assault on the right to freedom of speech and assembly.

Until the protest of students on 6th October (almost a week after reopening of the university), the University was in complete darkness due to power outage, making healthy living and learning on a campus characterized by overcrowded lecture rooms and hostels impossible. It is crucial to note that coupled with the power outage is an embarrassing situation of bed-bug infested hostels, which these students formally complained about before vacation, and still resumed into same few weeks ago.

We therefore received with shock the news that while implementing the congressional resolution of the students’ union for a lecture boycott over abject conditions of learning and living, some activists were hounded, indiscriminately beaten and hurled into police custody at Moore, Ile-Ife by security personnel of the University on the order of the Vice-Chancellor. The detained students, some of whom became victims of the new suspension order were released due to the intervention of a lawyer employed by the leadership of the Students’ Union for that purpose.

The suspension of Omole Ibukun, Jacob Tosin, Udeh John and Oluwalade Babatunde in connection to this matter was unjustifiable and carried out in violation of the principle of natural justice. This is so because none of the victimized students was queried or invited to any panel of the varsity for the purpose of responding to the allegations levied against them by the University management. The university has hinged their suspension on a so-called Police investigation. However, the only shred of justification for the suspension becomes spurious given the fact that none of the victimized students were (or have been contacted) by police authorities concerning any investigation.

We have no doubt that the current suspension is no more than a ploy to dissuade students from raising concerns over their deleterious conditions of learning and living, and which is in sync with the despotic style of the previous substantive Vice-Chancellor who resorted to victimization of activists when questioned over the management of billions of Naira released to the university by the federal government between 2014 and 2016. The intention of the management, beyond the trump-up charges adduced as offenses, becomes apparent given the fact that some students of the University’s post-graduate college were similarly suspended after protesting against policies of the university they considered inimical to their interests.

We in the ERC reiterate that the suspension of students as response to their demands for improved conditions on campus is unacceptable in a democratic society, especially in a University where students are supposed to be encouraged to think and speak critically

Oyo Govt Committed N22bn to LAUTECH in 6years, says crisis to end soon

PRESS RELEASE

Oyo State Government has said that over N22bn has been expended on the Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH) since 2011, confirming that the recently inaugurated Governing Council is already finding a lasting solution to the crisis in the institution.

The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology Professor Adeniyi Olowofela, who made the disclosure on Thursday during a Ministerial Press Briefing, held at the Film Theatre, Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism, revealed that the Governing Council has had a series of meetings with the Unions of the institution to resolve the current imbroglio, saying that the unions have consented to the forensic auditing recommended by the visitation panel to the institution.

Prof. Olowofela said that the forensic audit is for all the tertiary institutions in the state to know the state of their finances, saying that the tertiary institution’s fees will be reviewed as the present fees being paid are highly subsidized by the government.

The Commissioner explained that N10.5bn has been spent on LAUTECH as an institution, N8.317bn expended on LAUTECH teaching hospital Ogbomoso while N3.17bn has been spent on LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo from 2011 to 2017 adding, “It is a wrong insinuation to say that we are care free about the LAUTECH crisis. We are not happy with the situation in the school but there is good news already. The unions have agreed to the forensic audit recommended by the visitation panel and the crisis is coming to an end with lasting solutions. The governing council is meeting the unions and stakeholders of the institution on a regular basis.

“Tertiary institutions’ fees are being subsidized by the state government. For instance, A 300-level student at the Emmanuel Alayande College of Education as at now is paying N8,000.00 and the highest fee being paid in LAUTECH is less than N70,000.00. We all know what the economy is saying and we are aware what is being paid in other government institutions and private ones. We are subsidizing fees paid in institutions in the state and we are committed to quality education for all. We want to assure our stakeholders in the education sector that the LAUTECH and other crisis in the sector will be resolved in due course,” the commissioner disclosed.

Prof. Olowofela noted that there is a surgical operation going on in the education sector in the state starting with automatic promotion which adversely affected the standard of education not only in Oyo state but Nigeria as a whole; explaining that the state government has introduced the ‘No Automatic Promotion” policy and started a unified examination system as well as harmonized grading for S.S 1 & 2 students in public schools in the state to improve the state’s performances in external examinations, WAEC and NECO.

He noted that the efforts of the government has started yielding fruitful results with the state coming 2nd in NECO external examination in 2016, better than 12th position of 2015, urging that the media should be wary of the reports they publish so as not to mislead the general public on the present rating of the state in external examinations.

Prof. Olowofela stated that the recently introduced School Governing Boards for Public secondary schools in the state is a master stroke that is changing the schools’ system, emphasising that the paradigm has changed and the SGBs are improving the standard of education and infrastructures in Oyo State schools.

He posited that the SGB model will outlive the present administration as it is yielding positive results already, explaining “One of our SGBs put N125m to renovate their school and they are presently trying to raise N1bn now. The SGB is a master stroke that will change education in the state forever. The Government has also approved and initiated the process of renovating 100 schools with about N5bn comprising of N3b counterpart funding and N1.9bn  which is a combination of  funds generated from the students’ levies and state government’s internally generated revenue.

“We want our students to take advantage of our Oyo State Model Education System Intervention (OYOMESI) to build good character and the Ajumose Legacy Note for secondary schools to download text books from the web, while the hard copies are also available in the Ministry,” the Commissioner stressed.

Prof. Olowofela said that the Education Trust Fund (ETF) inaugurated recently by Governor Abiola Ajimobi would complement the budgetary allocation at all levels by the government, adding that 5% of VAT to State/Local Government will go to ETF as well as 1% from IGR and 1% paid by students of private schools will go into the pool.

The Commissioner pointed out that The Technical University, Ibadan (TechU) will be self-financing, saying that the government is just midwifing the university that will develop the vocational skills of its students and promote technical education.

FG feeds 1.3m pupils with N3.77bn, engages 14,574 cooks

The Federal Government of Nigeria said it has so far expended N3.77 billion on feeding of 1,287,270 school children in nine states under its Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President, Laolu Akande, who disclosed this recently, also said the project has engaged a total of 14,547 cooks across the country.
He listed Anambra, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Delta and Abia as the currently benefiting states, adding that the money were released to them in tranches.
To ensure that the programme effectively impacts on the communities, the Ag President’s spokesman said the cooks were sourced from within the localities of the affected schools.
According to him, the Federal government pays the cooks directly, with a slight variation in Osun State where some of the food items, such as eggs, were bought centrally by an aggregator.
The National Homegrown School Feeding scheme kicked off in December 2016 with the feeding of primary school pupils in Anambra State.
The Special Assistant on Homegrown School Feeding Programme in the Office of the Vice President, Dotun Adebayo, said primary school pupils in Anambra State were excited as the feeding started in their schools.
Adebayo, who led a team of federal and state officials to some of the schools, said they witnessed the feeding in three schools in Awka: Community Primary School, Awka South; Central School Ameobi, and Central School in Nibo.