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Strike: We’re still considering govt offer, says ASUU

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  • NANS threatens to shut down all private universities

National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, says the appropriate organ of the union is still reflecting on the Federal Government’s offer and will make its position known soon.

He denied claims that the union agreed to end its strike on Wednesday, December 9.

He spoke just as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has threatened to shut down all private universities across the country should the nine-month strike embarked upon by ASUU continue.

“To put the records straight, the principal officers and trustees, who constitute the core of representatives of ASUU at negotiation meetings with the government, are not constitutionally empowered to suspend any strike action,” Ogunyemi said in a statement.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, in a statement, had said ASUU promised to call of the strike by December 9, 2020.

Ngige also said promises made to ASUU could only be achieved if the union returned to work.

But Ogunyemi said, “ASUU leadership did not reach any understanding with government to suspend the strike on December 9, 2020, and there is nothing in the government offer of November 27, 2020 to suggest that conclusion as allegedly claimed by the Minister of Labour and Employment.

“At our last meeting in the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment on November 27, 2020, the ASUU leadership promised to faithfully present the latest government offer to its members through the established tradition.

“The latest offer by government makes proposals on nearly all items of demand by the union with timelines. Among others, the document which was signed by the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, contains proposals on inauguration of the reconstituted FGN-ASUU Renegotiation Committee (1st December, 2020); release of details about visitation panels (1st December, 2020); working on the actualisation of the release of the withheld salaries of ASUU members (Wednesday, December 9, 2020).

“Clause 9 on the document reads, ‘Based on these conclusions reached on items 1-8, ASUU’s leadership will consult its organs with a view to suspending the ongoing strike.’”

He explained that the outcome of any engagement with agents of the government remained an offer which must be taken back to the branches through the various organs of the union.

He stated, “Views and perspectives on offers by governments are aggregated and presented to government agents as counter-offers.

“This trade union strategy of offer and counter-offer is continually deployed until the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU – consisting of all recognised chairpersons – finally approves what it considers an acceptable offer from the government. It is only then that any strike action by ASUU can be suspended.”

Ogunyemi also said the strike would have been avoided had the government implemented agreements it signed with ASUU.

The ASUU leader said, “It was a needless crisis in the first place. It happened because government has consistently failed to faithfully implement the agreements it freely signed with the union.

“ASUU members, as stakeholders in the Nigerian university system, are equally worried and embarrassed that those in position of authority, over the years, displayed seeming indifference to the rot and decay in Nigeria’s public universities.”

Meanwhile, President of NANS, Sunday Asefon, while speaking on a Punch Online interview programme, The Roundtable, said the association would shut down all private universities if FG and ASUU failed to resolve the crisis.

Asefon, who lamented that the ongoing strike, which is the longest industrial action embarked upon by the university lecturers, said that NANS would get into a discussion with the Federal Government representatives and ASUU leaders to find a lasting solution to resolve the stalemate in negotiations between the two sides.

However, the NANS President pointed out that if the strike action was not called off as soon as possible after consultations with both parties, the association would be left with no option but to move in and shut down all tertiary institutions in the country.

Education

21 Nigerian students get Stallion Empowerment Initiative scholarships

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Twenty-one students of Premium Technical High School, Warri, Delta State of Nigeria, have received the 2021 education scholarship award, facilitated by Stallion Empowerment Initiative, the charity arm of Stallion Group.

The awards given at a ceremony held last Friday are for the best performing students for the 2020/2021 academic session across various classes.

The SEI Education Scholarship includes Sunil Vaswani Merit Scholarships with 100 per cent full tuition fee waiver for the best student in classes, Primary 6 to Senior Secondary 3; Principal’s Merit Scholarship with 75 per cent tuition waiver for the second-best student and Roy Tabet Merit Scholarship with 50 per cent tuition scholarship for the third-best student.

SEI Educational Scholarship’s inaugural edition was given to the best-performing students of the 2019/2020 academic session, despite the COVID-19, as it was essential to propagate the importance of education during a year of hardship.

Co-founder of SEI, Ms Sarina Vaswani, said the scholarship programme stemmed from the SEI’s belief in building positive prospects for the future generation through investment in human capital, especially education and skills.

She said, “We support the youth to further their education into secondary schools and university. We believe our school programmes and support can help prepare students into adulthood.”

The SEI, according to her, is working towards building Nigeria as a benchmark in improving the access and opportunities available for young individuals.

“The goal is to improve the attendance rates for schools in the region and encourage every child to attend school in the region,” Ms Vaswani said.

The is said to SEI support Premium Technical High School (THS), which comprises 1,746 students and two other premium primary schools with a student population of 2,000, all in Warri, Delta State.

Principal of THS, Mr Joseph Sido, said with the support, the schools could offer qualitative secondary school education for children in the neighbouring communities.

He said, “The students are imparted with technical training so that they are absorbed in industries like premium steel or other ancillary industry in that region.”

The firm noted that over 50% of this year’s beneficiaries were female, just like 2020, indicating a continuation of the initiative’s support for education of the girl child in Nigeria.

The statement noted, “Due to cultural and religious disparities, female literacy continues to be an ongoing challenge in Nigeria, which SEI believes are core challenges society will continue to tackle in the future.”

It went further to quote Ms Vaswani as saying, “By creating an open environment for girls to attend schools and supporting them with educational grants and scholarships, SEI sets precedence and propagates gender equality in Nigeria.”

It also stated that SEI’s key focus had been to support education, healthcare and drive youth empowerment programmes.

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Education

FG to reconsider South East candidates who missed 2021 WASSCE

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The Ministry of Education has assured that  candidates who missed the 2021 West Africa Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) in the South East, will be given another opportunity to write the examination.

Sonny Echono, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, made this known while monitoring some examination centres in Abuja on Monday.

Echono frowned at the Sept. 13 disruption of examination centres in the South East.

He, however, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the examination across the country which was written by over 1.57 million candidates.

According to Echono, the ministry will put modalities in place to ensure that the candidates who missed the examination in the South East are given other opportunities to write the examination.

“We are very pleased that all around the country; examinations are going on peacefully as we have a total of over 19,000 exams centres across the country with over 1.57million registered candidates.

“Besides the disruptions we had on Sept.13 in the South East where some candidates were stopped from doing the exams, it is a peaceful examination.

“We are complying with all the standards and ethics of examinations, we are pursuing very hard more cases, incidence or possibilities of examinations malpractice because we have a zero tolerance for examinations malpractice.

“We shall punish any person found culpable and ensure that sanity is restored in our system,’’ he said.

Echono further said that the ministry did not encounter challenges in preparing students for the examinations aside from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All COVID-19 safety protocols are being strictly adhered to in centres across the country,” he said.

He said that although some schools were closed in states due to COVID-19 pandemic, alternative arrangements were made especially for exit classes to take the examination.

On the possibilities of examination malpractices, Echono said that cases of examination malpractices were usually collated at the end of the examination, pointing out that the culprits would also be brought to book.

He said that the ministry was collaborating with relevant examination bodies and Non Government Organisations to fish out candidates involved in examination malpractices.

“This is because we have a lot of miscreant who are perpetrating and deceiving people. We are going to undertake a general overhaul for all those offering so called services to candidates.

“We didn’t see much of malpractices in internal examinations like this because these are students who are already in school,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the permanent secretary led the monitoring team to the Federal Government Girls College (FGGC) Bwari and Government Girls Secondary School, Dutse.

It was also observed that the students of the GGSS, Dutse,  were in full compliance  with COVID-19 protocols.

Muaz Hassan, The Eagle Online

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Education

Plateau poly students protest exams postponement, block highway

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Students of Plateau State Polytechnic on Monday trooped out in large numbers and blocked the Yakubu Gowon way, a major highway leading in and out of Jos, as they protested the postponement of their semester examinations by the school authorities.

The postponement of the examination was said to be as a result of an indefinite strike embarked upon by the lecturers of the institution.

The lecturers had issued a notice of strike to the government over they called its inability to meet their demands of earned allowances and other sundry issues.

NAN quoted one Miss Deborah John as saying the decision of the management to postpone the examination was an attempt to truncate their academic journey.

“We came to school this morning to start our examinations only to see a circular that our lecturers have been on strike since Friday.

“We were not informed; nobody said anything to us we just discovered that we cannot start our examinations.

“This is why we are protesting and it is a peaceful protest because all we want is go in and write our examinations.

“We have spent over three years in just one semester owing to Covid-19 lockdown, but largely due to the various strikes embarked upon by our lecturers.

“We keep paying for our accommodation, school fees, and other expenses. More so, we are getting old and by the time we graduate, we can’t find jobs of because of age,” John lamented.

Another student, Isreal Longdu, decried the incessant strike by their lecturers, adding that the development has stagnated their academic progression.

“Nobody has come to address us on the issue and we feel this is not right.“We demand a proper explanation from the management on why we cannot start our examinations today.“We are tired of this back and forth; our academic journey is suffering and this is not good for us,” he decried.

When contacted, Mr John Ramadan of the Public Relations Department of the institution, promised to furnish NAN with details on the strike soon.

NAN also reports that there was heavy presence of armed security personnel at the scene of the protest to forestall the breakdown of law and order.

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