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Nigeria Plans To Release N30B Revitalisation Fund To Universities Next Week

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The Federal Government plans to release N30 billion as revitalisation fund to universities next week, according to the Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige.

The minister said that the money was paid in January and remain in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) pending the conclusion of the audit report of the Implementation Committee on the use of previous funds disbursement to universities by the Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC).

Ngige said that the monies will be paid to successful universities based on the evaluation report of the committee while those with shortcomings will be made to make up before accessing the fund.

The revitalisation fund is among seven key issues evaluated at a meeting with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday.

A statement by the Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, said both parties at the meeting expressed satisfaction with the implementation stages of what Ngige termed “work in progress.”

The Minister said some of the items in the Memorandum of Action (MOA) were nearly done hundred percent within the timeline.

He explained the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was directed to expedite action on the integrity test on the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) which if successful, will eliminate the challenges posed by the peculiarities of the university system to the current payment platform.

“The report has been turned in, deliberated upon and both the Education Ministry and the NUC have promised to write to the Accountant General of the Federation next week for the release of the money to the NEEDS Special Account for onward disbursement to universities shortly,” Ngige said.

He further disclosed apart from the N40 billion Earned Allowance which the Federal Government has already paid, the Budget Office of the Federation showed evidence that N22 billion Earned Allowances for the year 2021 is already captured in the 2021 supplementary budget of the federation, and will soon be accessed.

“On the proliferation of State universities, a bill has been sent to the National Assembly by the NUC to strengthen its arms in terms of delisting universities where funding and other parameters are inadequate.

“This effort was commended as all the parties agreed that mushrooming and proliferation of state universities, some of which mock the ideals of an ivory tower, should stop.

“The inconsistencies in the IPPIS payment were also discussed. There was good interaction and documents were exchanged between IPPIS and ASUU. ASUU is to go back to its members so that we can have a proper update on the extent of the inconsistencies in payment.

“We expressed our displeasure that these things are happening – amputation of salaries, not-too-clear, foggy things happening over peoples monthly emoluments. So we have asked IPPIS and ASUU to work together over this,” the Minister said.

He also said that evidence was presented to show that promotion arrears have been paid to some universities while the Budget Office of the Federation and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation was asked to liaise with ASUU to sort out the rest, noting that the standing committee on the matter has been expended to include National Income Salaries and Wages Commission.

“A situation where a university professor is paid N107, 000 out of mistake or over deduction is unacceptable,” Ngige declared.

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Senate Passes Bills To Establish Two Federal Universities in Ekiti, Nasarawa states

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The Senate on Tuesday passed two bills seeking to establish two federal universities in Ekiti and Nasarawa States.

The bills are the Federal University of Health and Medical Sciences Iyin, Ekiti State (Establishment) Bill, 2021, and Federal University Lafia Teaching Hospital (Establishment) Bill, 2021.

Both bills are sponsored by Senators Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), and Tanko Al-Makura (APC, Nasarawa South).

The passage of both bills followed the presentation and consideration of two separate reports by the Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary).

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central), in his presentation, said the bill to establish the Federal University of Lafia Teaching Hospital was “necessitated as a result of the precarious health conditions faced by the resident.”

According to him, the bill to establish the Federal University of Health and Medical Sciences Iyin, Ekiti State, seeks to promote and emphasize teaching, research and extension of knowledge in the field of medicine and environmental sciences.

In a related development, the Senate on Wednesday passed a third bill to amend the University Teaching Hospitals (Reconstitution of Boards) Act.

The bill’s passage by the upper chamber followed consideration of a report by the Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary).

Senator Oloriegbe in his presentation explained that the amendment bill seeks to amend the First Schedule to the Principal Act to include the University Teaching Hospital, Lafia and Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital.

In a related development, a bill seeking to establish the Federal College of Education, Kaiama, Kwara State, scaled second reading during plenary.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Sadiq Suleiman Umar (APC, Kwara North).

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, after the bill was considered, referred it to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.

The Committee which is chaired by Senator Ahmad Baba Kaita was given four weeks to report back to the upper chamber.

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Nexford University, Sterling Bank Partner to Benefit Students, Corporates

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Nexford University, a Washington D.C. based, next-generation online university – announces a major new partnership with Sterling Bank, one of Nigeria’s largest commercial banks.

The Sterling Bank and Nexford program is called ‘Fund Your Future’ and is part of Nexford’s wider ‘Learn to Earn’ project for emerging markets. It is designed to solve three major challenges:

  • Enabling employers to find qualified entry-level talent;

In the World Economic Forum’s index, Nigeria scored 44% on human capital development (measured by skills acquisition) trailing the Sub-Saharan African average of 55%

Nigerian employers faced the most difficulties in filling managerial, professional and technical jobs due to a lack of skilled applicants

  • Helping students with affordable access to university

50% of Nigeria’s high school graduates fail to gain admission to local universities and other institutions of learning;

  • Giving students skills they need to actually get jobs

Employers across emerging markets struggle to find qualified entry-level talent, and are forced to invest in expensive and time-consuming training. Paradoxically, despite high emerging market unemployment levels, employers still struggle to find this qualified talent. In a McKinsey survey of young people and employers in nine countries, including major developing countries, 40% of employers noted a lack of skills was the main reason for entry-level job vacancies. 60% said new graduates were not adequately prepared for the world of work.

For Sterling Bank, the benefits are multiple. First is access to student talent – which has been given an education – by Nexford – specifically tailored to their corporate needs. This saves Sterling money on current early-stage training to upskill graduates to the required level. Nexford’s competency-based curriculum also provides Sterling with multiple data points to evaluate applicants’ qualifications, thus saving time on filtering large numbers of applications and the wider recruitment process.

For students, Sterling Bank is playing two roles; it will underwrite loans to fund their tuition fees with Nexford. This will protect students against Naira foreign exchange fluctuations. These fluctuations, plus US dollar restrictions, make budgeting for degree costs difficult.  Sterling will put students back in control of their finances. Secondly, Sterling Bank is providing students with partial scholarships and internships during students’ studies, plus post-graduation job opportunities.

The wider context is, in markets such as the US, employer-funded education has grown significantly, with $82.5 billion spent on upskilling there in 2020. In 2020, the World Economic Forum also stated that 1 billion workers will need to be reskilled by 2030. While the need for upskilling globally is significant, young populations means emerging markets face significant shortages of qualified entry-level talent.

The ‘Nexford for Business’ program which launched in 2020 focuses on reskilling and upskilling employees. Large employers such as Dangote Cement in Nigeria, Indosat in Indonesia, and Hassan Allam Holding in Egypt are employers who have already partnered with Nexford to upskill their employees.

In each market, Nexford will partner with a different organization to fund, and several organizations on the employment side. Employers will identify the skills they need, and Nexford will identify the programs to deliver those skills. When learners complete the programs, they will have a far greater chance of gaining employment opportunities.

Nexford University’s CEO, Fadl Al Tarzi, said:

“Our partnership with Sterling Bank is a perfect example of how Nexford is helping bridge gaps between employers and higher education. We are committed to making access to qualified talent far easier for employers, while making education more accessible and relevant for learners. We are delighted to partner with an institution privileged to have such forward thinking leadership, the Sterling Bank partnership kicks off our global roll-out. This is a perfect match and surely the first of many such partnerships.”

Mr. Obinna Ukachukwu, Divisional Head, Health and Education sectors with Sterling Bank, commented:

“The programme is designed to solve three major challenges of enabling employers to find qualified entry level talent, helping students with affordable access to university and giving students the skills they need to actually get jobs.”

“In the World Economic Forum’s index, Nigeria scored 44 percent on human capital development when measured by skills acquisition, trailing the sub-Saharan African average of 55 percent by 11 percent. Also, Nigerian employers face the most difficulties in filling managerial, professional and technical jobs due to lack of skilled applicants.”

Launched in 2019, Nexford’s leverages machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to create a data and skills-driven curriculum, specifically designed to match employers’ needs with its graduates’ skills. It has learners enrolled from over 65 countries, and has partnerships with Microsoft, LinkedIn Learning and IBM to provide access to tools, courses and programmes to enrich the learning experience.

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About 1.6 Million Nigerian Candidates Registered For 2021 WAEC

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According to Patrick Areghan, head of the Nigeria national office West African Examination Council, about 1.6 million candidates will be seating for 2021 the Examination.

The WASSCE which was earlier scheduled to hold May/June 2021 was put on hold due to the global health pandemic. For that reason, the examination was rescheduled to the month of August.

According to the body, the examination will run from Monday, August 16 to Friday, October 8 across the sub-regions, however, Nigeria will conclude her examination on September 30.

Patrick said, “in accordance with the Final International Timetable, the WASSCE (SC) 2021 will take place throughout the sub-region from Monday, 16th August to Friday, 8th October 2021. However, the examination will end in Nigeria on 30th September 2021 – spanning a period of seven (07) weeks”.

He assured that the management will strictly adhere to the Covid-19 protocols, including ensuring compliance by all stakeholders.

The WAEC boss also reiterated the body zero-tolerance stance against all forms of malpractices; rogue- website operators; the so-called miracle centres and the body will work with security agencies to ensure a smooth sail of the examination.

He said, “We are also closely watching out for the so-called ‘Special’ or ‘Miracle’ centres. These are not coinages by WAEC. They exist only in the imaginations of the perpetrators and patronizers. Even though we cannot claim to be oblivious of such a scenario, they are centres where candidates are promised assistance for cheap grades by ‘examination contractors’. We will definitely not allow them. No matter how remotely located they are, our in-built anti-malpractice mechanism will fish them out. It will not be wise to spend a whole six years preparing for the examination, only to end up not getting any result. So please, be warned!”

According to statistics, it was revealed that 19,425 recognized schools from the 36 states in Nigeria registered for this year’s examination, and candidates will be examined in 76 subjects with a total of 197 papers.

“The statistics for the examination shows that 19,425 recognized secondary schools, comprising 8,052 public and 11,373 private schools, spread across the nooks and crannies of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, which would be presenting a total of 1,573,789 candidates, comprising 792,620 males (50.36%) and 781,169 females (49.64%), for the examination. Candidates would be examined in 76 subjects, made up of 197 papers. About 25,000 senior teachers would be participating in the examination as supervisors” he added.

The Head of WAEC, Nigeria called on candidates to ensure that they have their National identification number, NIN as candidates will not be allowed to take the subsequent examinations.

His words: “Let me also use this medium to announce that as we continue to make progress in the conduct of the Council’s business in Nigeria, National Identification Number (NIN) will become a major requirement for registration for the WASSCE examination with effect from the WASSCE for School Candidates, 2022 and subsequent diets (No NIN, no entry!).

“This means that all prospective candidates must register with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and get their National Identification Number (NIN). This is in line with the Federal Government’s policy, as directed by the Federal Ministry of Education”.

Check Timetable Here

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