• Highlights of the activities of some parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Education in 2012

    NUC calls erring varsities to order

    The National Universities Commission took a bold step in July when it suspended the operational licenses of seven private universities over five major offences. While six of the institutions went to the commission to iron things out, the Lead City University differed, and instead leveled allegations of victimization and blackmail against the commission.

    In its efforts to prove the allegations, the university authorities submitted a memorandum to the Federal House of Representatives, with a rider that the commission did not have the power to suspend its license, even though it had issued the license to it in the first place. In response, the NUC also sent its own memo to the House, detailing what it described as the institution’s serial disregarding activities. The commission insisted that it possessed the power to take proper disciplinary actions against any erring degree awarding institution in the country.

    The NUC did not stop at that, it constituted a forensic committee to visit the Universities and find out to what extent they had complied with proper directives.

    That produced another surprise. One of the seven was discovered to have awarded bogus doctorate (PhD) degrees! The commission later annulled all such doctorate degrees. For that reason, the commission now publishes the lists of: approved Universities with approved post graduate programmes and illegal degree awarding institutions, referred to as ‘degree mills’ in its weekly bulletin displayed on its website.

    Although, the commission’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Julius Okojie has acknowledged that more private Universities were needed to provide more access at the tertiary level, he however insisted that quality must not be compromised. And to further increase access, the commission has raised existing admission quotas in the universities by 20 percent, while programmes that had full accreditation status, back to back, also had their admission quotas increased by 25 percent.

    The commission dispatched 270 accreditation panels to look at 816 academic programmes that had interim and denied accreditation during the last visit, this year. It has also embarked on a project that would enable it carry out institutional accreditation, which goes beyond programme accreditation. The commission had, last year, developed the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) for postgraduate programmes in 13 disciplines. Besides, it has also developed the BMAS for two undergraduate programmes: Aeronautical Engineering and Mechatronics.

    Also this year, through the commission, a total of 101 First Class graduates of various institutions received sponsorship under the Presidential Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development (PRESSID) for master’s and doctorate programmes in the top 25 universities in the world, including Cambridge and Oxford Universities in the United Kingdom (UK); Harvard and Yale universities in the United States. These are coming on the heels of another scholarship awards to two sets of 52 National Youth Service Corps National Honours Awardees for postgraduate studies in the UK.

    Five private and two state universities were granted operational licenses this year. The private institutions include: Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin; Evangel University Akaeze; Gregory University, Uturu; Mcpherson University, Ajebo and Southwestern University, Oku Owa.

    The state Universities were: Northwest University, Kano and Technical University, Ibadan.

    UBEC records modest achievements

    The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) recorded modest achievements this year, but familiar challenges still remain.

    At the two-day retreat organized in March, several resolutions were incorporated into the reviewed Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act and forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Education.

    The commission has, to date, provided 5, 066 new and renovated classrooms and other priority school level projects in collaboration with school communities, under the UBE self-help project. About 20,000 copies of anti-corruption booklets have been produced and distributed to public schools, to impart the culture of transparency and accountability in the children. Another 10,000 copies of Guidelines for the Establishment of School-Based Management Committees were also produced.

    On funding, the commission’s internally generated revenue increased by more than 200 percent due to the domiciliation of UBE funds in commercial banks. Various sums disbursed in line with the Federal Executive Council approved formula include: Matching Grant – N12.9billion; Educational Imbalance – N8.2billion; Special Education Fund – N855 million; Good Performance Fund – N182million; Teacher Professional Development Fund – N4.8 billion and Instructional Materials – N9.6 billion.

    The commission has also, to date, procured 19, 670,000 textbooks for primaries 1 and 2 in four core subjects of Mathematics (2.8m), Basic Science and Technology (5.81m), Social Studies (5.81m) and the English (2.8m) Language. Besides, about 4.14 million Junior Secondary School library resource materials were procured and distributed to the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

    National and zonal flag off ceremonies for the distribution of textbooks to primaries 1 and 2, and the Junior Secondary school library materials were held in Abuja, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Gombe, Katsina and Ondo states.

    About two per cent of the Federal Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund was also used for the construction of new schools, provision of infrastructure, equipment and furniture for children with special education needs. These include 69 classrooms, five hostels, two toilets, nine bathrooms, 19 stores and 1,713 Braille machines, hearing aids, audiometers and wheelchairs.

    The commission flagged off its Teacher Professional Development programme in July and disbursed N140 million to each state and the FCT for the training of 198, 438 teachers and education managers.

    In May, the Vice President, Mohammed Sambo convened a Presidential Review Meeting on the Almajari project at the villa in Abuja, where the commission’s immediate past Executive Secretary, Dr Modibo Mohammed itemized various achievements. Some governors who attended the meeting however canvassed for a holistic approach to solve the almajiri phenomenon, instead of embarking on an elaborate programme to build structures without dealing with the root causes of the problem.

    However, some challenges still remain. At the recent meeting with Chairmen of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), the commission’s Acting Executive Secretary, Prof. Charles Onocha revealed that out of the N192.56 billion the commission received from the federal government as matching grants from 2005 to 2012, only N154.37 billion has so far been disbursed, leaving N38.1 billion still unaccessed by the states.  Ebonyi and Imo states were mentioned as non-performing in the provision of basic education at the meeting.

    The commission is also yet to have a substantive executive secretary since the expiration of Mohammed’s term in July.  He is, however, entitled to a second term according to the current UBEC guidelines.

    Source: guardian newspaper

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