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Student loan: 1.2m beneficiaries listed as scheme begins Friday

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The long-awaited student loan programme will take off on Friday with 1.2 million students in federal tertiary institutions across the country, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Education Loan Fund, Akintunde Sawyerr, has said.Student loan: Tinubu appoints new management team for NELFund

Sawyerr, who spoke at a pre-application sensitisation press conference in Abuja, on Monday, said 1.2 million students in federal universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, and technical colleges would benefit from the first phase.

Data obtained from the National Universities Commission website indicated that the nation has 226 federal tertiary institutions comprising 62 universities, 41  polytechnics, 96 monotechnics and 27 colleges of education.

President Bola Tinubu, on April 3, signed the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2024, into law.

The assent was sequel to the separate considerations by both the Senate and the House of Representatives of theStudent Loan Bill: Tinubu to establish education bank report of the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund.

The executive bill titled, ‘A bill for an Act to repeal the Students Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act, 2023 and Enact the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) Bill, 2004 to Establish the Nigerian Education Loan Fund as a body corporate to receive, manage and invest funds to provide loans to Nigerians for higher education, vocational training and skills acquisition and related matters,’  was signed in the presence of the leadership of the National Assembly, ministers and major stakeholders of education.

The Act empowers the Nigeria Education Loan Fund to provide loans to qualified Nigerian students for tuition, fees, charges and upkeep during their studies in approved public tertiary institutions and vocational and skills acquisition establishments in the country.

The new law which repealed the Student Loan Act, 2023, removed the family income threshold so students can apply for loans and accept responsibility for repayment, according to the Fund’s guidelines.

Access to education

Speaking after he signed the bill, Tinubu said no Nigerian, regardless of their background, would be excluded from obtaining quality education.

This is to ensure that no one, no matter how poor their background is, is excluded from quality education and opportunity to build their future,” said the President at the State House, Abuja.

Although the government initially announced that the scheme would be launched in September, it suffered several delays leading to an indefinite postponement.

The Presidency had linked the delay to Tinubu’s directive to expand the scheme to include loans for vocational skills.

Last Thursday, the Nigerian Education Loan Fund announced May 24 as the official date for the opening of the portal for loan applications.

Addressing journalists on Monday, ahead of the opening of Friday’s portal, Sawyerr said, “There are approximately 1.2 million students in federal tertiary institutions owned by the government. Today, by inference, 1.2m  students maximum at the federal level (will benefit), but there might be an opportunity to increase the capacity in terms of more institutions, and when we begin to bring in state-owned institutions, then the numbers can go up.’’

He explained that only students whose institutions had uploaded their data on the Fund’s dashboard would be eligible to apply.

While calling on students in federal tertiary institutions to visit the website, www.nelf.gov.ng to apply from May 24, the CEO added that students in state universities and vocational skills centres could apply at a later date.

He said the requirements to apply include the admission letter from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, National Identity Number, and Bank Verification Number as well as completed application forms from its website.

“The loan application process has been streamlined to ensure easy access for all eligible students in federal tertiary institutions. Applicants can access online support to assist with any questions or concerns during the application process.

“We believe that education is a vital investment for the future. We envisage that the student loan initiative of Mr President is a testament to this commitment,” he said.

One of the key features of the programme, he stressed, is the absence of physical contact between the loan applicant and NELFUND.

According to him, the portal provides a user-friendly interface for students to submit their loan applications conveniently.

Ex-minister, others urge FG to monitor student loan disbursement

He encouraged students in federal tertiary institutions to take advantage of the opportunity to secure the required financial assistance for their education, even as he urged the applicants to submit their applications as soon as possible to ensure timely processing.

He revealed that in addition to the interest-free loan, applicants will also receive monthly stipends for upkeep.

He, however, did not state the amount, saying, “That figure will be capped. And we will look very closely at each application and make a decision based on several factors as to what fees will be paid to them.’’

“The fees for the institution are going to be paid not to the students but to the institution. And that will be paid at the maximum of that fee per session. We will only pay for a session at a time because people drop out of institutions, they change institutions,” he clarified.

The NELFUND boss also pointed out that the institutions have vital roles to play in providing the Fund with data on fees payable by students at the departmental, faculty and other levels.

According to Sawyerr,  the agency is also working with security agencies to ensure that people do not take advantage and defraud the process.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has called on state governments to ensure responsible and transparent use of the matching grants allocated for the implementation of the Universal Basic Education Commission programme.

The Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi,  emphasised the directive during the inauguration of a six-day training programme for accountants and auditors from UBEC and State Universal Basic Education Boards in Abuja.

Addressing the participants, Bobboyi condemned the undue pressure often placed on financial officers by state officials, urging SUBEBs’ financial officers to uphold integrity and resist such pressures to avoid compromising standards.

“The training aims to update participants on the revised accounting manual and to provide a comprehensive understanding of financial infractions and sanctions,” Bobboyi stated, adding, “This knowledge is essential for ensuring effective service delivery in basic education.”

Highlighting the mandates of UBEC and SUBEBs in implementing the Universal Basic Education programme, Bobboyi stressed the importance of a robust accounting system to ensure the judicious use of government funds.

He stressed the imperative of fidelity to accountability regarding the management of the Federal Government’s UBE Intervention Fund.

To achieve these objectives, continuous enhancement of professional competence among UBEC and SUBEB staff is necessary, he noted.

Bobboyi lamented that despite previous training efforts, there has been limited improvement in financial practices.

He cited findings from regular quarterly financial monitoring by UBEC, which revealed poor record-keeping and infractions against established guidelines.

He explained that the findings and recommendations from these monitoring activities had been communicated to SUBEBs for corrective actions.

Bobboyi stressed the importance of adhering to existing rules and guidelines to ensure accountability and transparency in financial transactions.

“As finance officers, it is your duty to comply strictly with these government stipulations. Engaging in or condoning wrongdoing will not be excused. Remember, reports from UBEC’s financial monitoring can be requested by agencies enforcing compliance with laws and regulations,’’ he warned the officials.

He further urged the participants to fully engage with the training and return to their offices equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to improve accounting practices at both the commission and boards.

To protect the FGN-UBE Intervention Fund, the Director of Finance and Accounts at UBEC, Adamu Misau, noted that a new sanction regime developed in 2022 had been approved for implementation.

The delay in its implementation, he said, was to ensure all financial managers received adequate training, which the current programme aimed to provide.

“We expect that by the end of this training, financial officers will be better prepared to manage the FGN-UBE Intervention Funds responsibly, adhering to financial regulations and due process,” Misau concluded.

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Education

Kwara College of Education upgraded to varsity

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Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq has approved the transmutation of the College of Education, Ilorin, into the University of Education.

The move, according to the governor, is to ease the take-off and other logistic advantages of the new education varsity.

“The government will continue ongoing efforts to transform the two other colleges and make them more viable in line with current realities’, a statement from the Government House said.

The decision comes a few days after the governor assented to the Kwara State University Teaching Hospital (Establishment) and Kwara State University of Education (Establishment) Bills, effectively birthing a teaching hospital and the University of Education.

The signing held at the Government House in Ilorin, in the presence of Speaker of the House of Assembly Yakubu Salihu; Majority Leader AbdulKadir Magaji; Clerk of the House AbdulKareem Ahmed; and a member of the Committee on the Establishment of the Kwara State University of Education/Special Adviser (Special Duties) Abdulrazaq Jiddah.

Source: The Nation

 

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FG approves N13b for National Research Fund, multipurpose labs for varsities

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President Bola Tinubu has relieved Prof. Aliyu Jauro and Dr. Adeniyi Aremu of their appointments as director-general of the National

President Bola Tinubu has approved N13 billion for the National Research Fund (NRF) and the provision of Central Multipurpose Laboratories in select universities nationwide.

The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at the inauguration of the reconstituted TETFund National Research Fund Screening and Monitoring Committee (NRFS&MC) and the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) .

Mamman also received the report of the TETFund ad hoc Committee on Equipment Upgrade in Workshops and Laboratories.

The Minister said the Federal Government was ready to provide equipment for research in the country.

He said: “President Tinubu’s approval of ₦5 billion for NRF and ₦8 billion for Central Multipurpose Laboratories underscores his commitment to advancing research for national development.”

Speaking during the inauguration of key committees, the minister emphasised the importance of enhancing research capacity across various fields.

He highlighted the need to elevate academic publications in Nigeria and reduce reliance on foreign materials through initiatives like the Higher Education Book Development Project.

The Executive Secretary of TETFUND Sonny Echono, praised the expertise of the committees in driving the implementation of the National Research Fund.

He stated: “The NRF has awarded 912 research grants totaling ₦24,021,679,195.88 since its inception in 2009, promoting applied research and innovation in public tertiary institutions.”

The committees were urged to uphold credibility and maintain high standards in their roles to advance research and book publication for national development.

Source: The Nation

 

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NASS, stakeholders, others back Bill to establish Federal College of Agric Agila

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NASS

The bill seeking to establish a Federal College of Agriculture in Agila, Benue State has received overwhelming acceptance during a public hearing at the National Assembly.

The public hearing, which attracted stakeholders from various sectors, including education, agriculture and government, saw widespread support for the bill. Speakers praised the initiative, highlighting the potential of the college to address the nation’s agricultural challenges.

The sponsor, Hon. Philip Agbese, who represents Ado/ Okpokwu/ Ogbadibo Federal Constituency, said the proposed institution is critical to the country’s food production and research.

He noted that this is a significant step towards transforming Nigeria’s agricultural sector and unlocking its full potential.

The Deputy spokesman of the House of Representatives said: “Benue State is indeed the food basket of the nation but what many don’t know is that my federal constituency produces a bulk of that food.

“Most of the research institutes have travelled to Agila, in particular for their fieldwork. With this institution, I believe the Federal Government would sustain what we have been doing for this nation. We will continue to feed the nation and in turn, my people will benefit.

“My constituency remains the least developed in the nation despite all its contributions. Hence, I believe this bill is the most critical for this committee.”

The Chairman of the Technical Committee for the institution, Professor Hyacinth Aboh, assured that the community is peaceful and welcoming, blessed with fertile land.

“Agila is well endowed, about 90 per cent of people there are farmers,” he added. “They engage in agriculture because the land is very fertile. The location of Agila is in the southern part of Benue State and shares a boundary with Ebonyi State.

“Agila won’t have any problem with take off as it already has a very big skill acquisition centre. The people of Agila are very peaceful with vast land”.

The Federal College of Agriculture Agila is expected to serve as a hub for agricultural innovation, research, and training.

The proposed institution will provide specialised training for farmers, extension workers, and agricultural educators, enhancing the sector’s human capacity. This will lead to improved agricultural productivity, sustainability, and innovation, driving economic growth and development in the region.

The college will also contribute to Nigeria’s food security, self-sufficiency, and economic diversification. It will enhance the nation’s global competitiveness in agriculture, attracting foreign investment and promoting export-led growth.

For Benue, the college will offer a significant boost to the local economy, creating jobs, stimulating agricultural development, and enhancing the state’s reputation as a hub for agricultural excellence. The state will also benefit from the college’s research and innovation, addressing specific agricultural challenges facing the region.

The community will profit from the college’s outreach programs, which will provide training and support for local farmers, improving their yields and incomes.

The college will also serve as a resource center for agricultural innovation, providing solutions to local agricultural challenges. This will lead to improved livelihoods, reduced poverty, and enhanced well-being for the local population.

The establishment of the Federal College of Agriculture in Benue State is expected to have a ripple effect on the nation’s agricultural sector, driving growth, innovation, and sustainability. The bill’s passage into law is eagerly anticipated, paving the way for the college’s establishment and the realization of its numerous benefits.

Among dignitaries in attendance were former House of Reps member, Hon. Bernard Ochepa; former executive council chairman of Ado, Hon. Chief Otse Otokpa, Elder Ogba Ogorry, Chief Otse Otokpa, Arch Tony Obekpa, Hon (Mrs) Kate Ojogi, and Prince Onwi Obande among others.

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Education

BSc/HND dichotomy: Discrimination against HND holders in workplace wrong — FG

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BSc/HND dichotomy: Discrimination against HND holders in workplace wrong — FG

BSc/HND dichotomy, reducing adult illiteracy in Nigeria, curb attacks on schools, combact social vices,
THE Federal Government has faulted prevailing discrimination against holders of Higher National Diploma (HND), in favour of Bachelor’s of Science (BSc) degree holders in the workplace in the country.

Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu speaking a one-day dialogue on the future of HND in Nigerian Educational landscape, said it is wrong to discriminate against a set of people trained with the right skills to perform optimally on the job.

The National Assembly in 2021 passed the “Bill for an Act to Abolish and Prohibit Dichotomy and Discrimination between First Degree and Higher National Diploma in the Same Profession/Field for the Purpose of Employment; and for Related Matters,” and was presented to former president Muhammadu Buhari for assent. Buhari, however, could not sign the bill into law before the end of his tenure.

The bill sought to check the discrimination of polytechnic graduates from their university counterparts in employment and promotion in the workplace.

The bill also sought to end the discrimination that stakeholders in the polytechnics suffer, which for long they sought an end to.

The Minister described the topic of the one-day dialogue as thought-provoking, considering the myriad of challenges being faced by holders of HND in Nigeria, saying one could not run away from the fact that most of the challenges being faced were borne out of the wrong perception of polytechnic education by a society that values paper qualification over and above competence.

Sununu, however, observed that while holders of HND continue to clamour for better deals, he was confident that the government initiative of reforming education would yield the desired result and give all a sense of belonging.

He added this also informed the integration of the National Skills Qualification framework (NSQ) at the last meeting of the National Council on Establishments (NCE) in Bauchi.

The Minister noted that to further demonstrate faith with the national council on education resolution, the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has since issued a circular that integrated skills qualifications into the Federal Schemes of Service.

“Besides, the new Performance Management System (PMS) put together by the Office of the Head of the Civil service of the Federation is another step aimed at ensuring that rather than the possession of paper qualification, individual competences are the new parameters for assessment in the workplace,” he stated.

Sununu disclosed that the National Board for Technical Education has also recently taken a step to correct the situation by bringing to national consciousness the need to embrace the global movement for skills acquisition by HND holders who must take one skill based programme to make themselves relevant in the society.

He charged the participants at the dialogue to come up with reasons that will not only change the age-long belief on the allege superiority of other qualifications over HND, but show that Nigeria, more than ever before, needs HND holders for national development.

Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education, Professor Idris Bugaje, speaking in the same vein lamented what he described as unwarranted discrimination against holders of the Higher National Diplomas in Nigeria.

Bugaje said the dialogue was apt as it would foster an opportunity to address pressing issues that had persisted for decades.

Also, the President, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics, Philip Ogunsipe said the discrimination was basically a function of societal acceptance of HND.

Ogunsipe said for the problems to be solved, the discrimination in the bill should be taken care of before being assented into law.

“Once the bill is passed and the discrimination in the HND programme is resolved and finally passed into law, we will not have any challenge with this age-long problem,” he said.

He also explained that the polytechnics sector must think outside the box and find a way of having programmes exclusively run by polytechnics.

He charged the NBTE to strengthen its supervisory role, noting that infrastructures in some polytechnics were in an awful state and needed urgent attention.

“The process of accreditation of programmes should be strengthened to provide the necessary and required manpower for the growth and development of this country. The NBTE must strengthen its supervisory role to do this,” he added.

President, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Shammah Kpanja said the discrimination is not only on students or academics but affects the sector in its entirety, explaining that if the polytechnics must be attractive, the transition of HND to BTech must be welcomed.

He, therefore, said that the Nigerian Polytechnics must offer BTech strictly for HND students while also noting that the certificate must be specialised.

Source: Tribune

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Lagos Governor Sanwo-olu Gifts LASU’s best graduating student N10 Million

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Lagos Governor Sanwo-olu Gifts LASU’s Best Graduating Student N10 Million

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu has gifted Olaniyi Mubaraq, the overall best-graduating student of Lagos State University (LASU), with a sum of N10 million.

The governor made the announcement at the grand finale of LASU’s 27th convocation ceremony, on Thursday, June 6.

The governor had arrived at the university at 12:38 pm.

The rewarded student, Olaniyi Mubaraq, graduated from the Department of Accounting Education. He graduated with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.98

Source: Politics Nigeria

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Education

Reps seek review of curriculum for primary and secondary schools

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The House of Representatives has further rescheduled its resumption date earlier slated for Tuesday, April 23 by one week.

The House of Representatives on Thursday, June 6, asked the federal ministry of education in conjunction with state ministries of education to conduct a comprehensive review of the curriculum across primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions in the country to improve the education standard.

The House said the reviewed curriculum should align with evolving global market demands, emphasising skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, digital literacy, and adaptability.

Adopting a motion on notice sponsored by Hon. Bamidele Salam, the House also asked the Ministry of Education to integrate practical applications, promote critical thinking and innovation, and enhance digital literacy.

It said the Ministry should nurture essential soft skills like communications, teamwork, and interpersonal skills and address resource disparities, and ensure equitable access to qualified teachers, updated learning materials, and proper infrastructure.

In addition, the House asked the ministry to incorporate a global perspective, broadening the curriculum to encompass international issues and fostering global citizenship.

Leading the debate on the motion, Hon. Bamidele Salam said Nigeria’s traditional curriculum, for primary and secondary schools, faces challenges compared to advanced nations, while it equips students with knowledge.

He said the current curriculum “prioritizes rote learning over practical skills like critical thinking and problem-solving, which are very crucial in the current labour market, the curriculum might have a stronger focus on national subjects, potentially limiting exposure to global perspectives necessary to navigate the interconnected world”.

He said further that Nigeria faces challenges in aligning its educational curriculum with advanced countries, traditionally, the Nigerian curriculum has emphasized rote memorization and standardized testing, and while this approach lays a strong foundation in core subjects, it often falls short in.

He stressed that in developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, advanced economies prioritize fostering analytical abilities and encouraging students to approach challenges with innovative solutions.

In addition, he said in equipping graduates with industry-relevant skills, the curriculum in developed nations often integrates practical training and exposure to real-world scenarios, preparing students for the specific demands of the job market.

While stressing the need to embrace technological advancements, Hon. Salam said integrating technology effectively into the learning process is crucial for success in today’s world. This area might require significant improvement in resource allocation and teacher training in Nigeria compared to its more technologically advanced counterparts.

He maintained that while the world is in flux, skills needed to thrive are constantly evolving, demanding a critical evaluation of current educational systems, the traditional curriculum may not adequately equip graduates for the dynamic labour market to bridge this gap, a comprehensive review of educational programmes at all levels is essential.

Read Also: Reps order comprehensive investigation into killing of soldiers in Abia
He suggested that the review should focus on aligning learning outcomes with the demands of the contemporary world, fostering critical thinking innovation, and equipping students with tools lost to navigate an increasingly digital landscape, to ensure the education system remains relevant and empowers individuals to succeed in the ever-changing world;

He expressed concern that the curriculum prioritizes theoretical knowledge and rote memorization over equipping students with the practical skills increasingly demanded by the globalized job market, this could leave Nigerian graduates unprepared for the realities of workplace expectations.

He said the Nigerian curriculum, compared to advanced countries, lacks sufficient technology integration, hindering the digital literacy skills necessary to thrive in a tech-driven world.

He said the rigid curriculum structure limits student exploration and overlooks global perspectives, potentially hindering graduates’ adaptability and competitiveness in the interconnected world.

Source: The nation

 

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