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Airtel Partners UNICEF to Scale-Up Digital Learning For Children in Nigeria And Across Africa

Airtel has entered a five-year multi-million dollar partnership with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to train 100,000 children in Digital learning.

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Multinational telecommunications service company, Airtel has entered a five-year multi-million dollar partnership with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to train 100,000 children in Digital learning.

The partnership mandate that schools are provided with free internet connectivity as well as free access to learning platforms for digital learning, particularly the vulnerable children. The partnership also seeks to ensure that every child reaches their full potential.    

Airtel Nigeria and UNICEF Nigeria under this new initiative are planning to help connect schools in Lagos and Kano to the internet, to enable children to learn digitally. This pilot initiative is expected to benefit over 10,000 schoolchildren in the two states.

Speaking on its partnership with Airtel Nigeria, UNICEF Nigeria Representative Peter Hawkins said, “By championing digital education for children in Africa, this partnership with Airtel Africa will help put children’s learning back on track.

“Digital learning is the gateway to equipping young people with the right skills that will support them to transition from learning to earning.

“We are delighted that Airtel Nigeria shares in this vision, and is helping to drive the process of scaling up internet connectivity for school children in Nigeria”.

Also commenting on its partnership with UNICEF is the CEO of Airtel Africa Olusegun Ogunsanya, who disclosed that one of the social responsibilities of the brand is to ensure that children get access to quality education.

In his words, “As a business, we have focused on education as a key area of our corporate social responsibility, and we are delighted that this partnership with UNICEF will enable us to accelerate results.

“It also coincides with the launch of our new sustainability strategy, which lays out our commitment to education. We are excited to be working with UNICEF to advance the education agenda on the continent through facilitating connectivity and online access to play a role in driving change.”

UNICEF whose mission is to cater for the rights of every child, disclosed that its partnership with Airtel Nigeria was necessitated, owing to the fact that a lot of children in Nigeria and across other African countries had their education disrupted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They, therefore, deemed it fit that by championing digital education for children in Africa, it will help reposition their learning back on track.

Airtel and UNICEF partnership will not only benefit learners in Nigeria, but will also benefit learners in other African countries such as Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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WAEC: Over 8,000 Candidates Register for First Series of Computer Based-WASSCE in Nigeria

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Over 8,000 candidates have registered for the inaugural Computer Based-West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in Nigeria.

Dr. Amos Dangut, the Head of National Office for the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), made this announcement during a press conference held in Lagos.

Scheduled to commence from January 31 to February 17, 2024, the Computer Based-WASSCE for private candidates represents a significant shift in examination methodology.

WAEC, in November 2023, had revealed its plans to conduct the WASSCE for private candidates using a computer-based model.

Dr. Dangut, while addressing the media, expressed WAEC’s commitment to implementing this innovative approach despite initial resistance.

He noted that the acceptance of the innovation, as evidenced by the substantial number of entries received, bolstered the council’s resolve to move forward with the computer-based examination.

Out of the 8,285 candidates registered, 47.66% are male, while 52.3% are female, indicating a relatively balanced representation across genders.

The examination will cover 19 subjects comprising 26 papers in a hybrid mode, blending objective and multiple-choice questions with essay and practical components.

Dr. Dangut urged candidates to familiarize themselves with the requirements for the CB-WASSCE by accessing WAEC’s e-learning portal.

He underscored WAEC’s collaboration with educational authorities, security agencies, and stakeholders to ensure the seamless conduct of the examination and maintain its credibility.

The advent of the Computer Based-WASSCE heralds a new era in standardized testing in Nigeria, marking a significant stride towards modernization and adaptability in the education sector.

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Canada Raises Cost-of-Living Requirement for Study Permit Applicants

IRCC Announces Adjustments to Financial Guidelines and Student Work Hours Effective January 1, 2024

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The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has revealed changes to the cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants, effective January 1, 2024.

The new requirement, set at $20,635 for a single study permit applicant, more than doubles the existing amount of $10,000 established in the early 2000s.

The adjustment aims to align with the rising cost of living in Canada, preventing instances where students’ funds fall short of covering their expenses.

This financial guideline applies to study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024, and is in addition to the first-year tuition and travel costs.

Furthermore, IRCC states that the cost-of-living requirement will now be annually adjusted based on Statistics Canada’s updates to the low-income cut-off (LICO), reflecting the minimum income necessary in Canada.

In addition to the financial adjustments, IRCC has extended the waiver on the 20-hour-per-week work cap for international students until April 30, 2024.

This extension applies to students currently in Canada and those who submitted a study permit application by December 7, 2023.

The waiver, initially introduced on November 15, 2022, allows students to work more than the standard 20 hours per week during the academic term.

Minister Miller also announced two updates related to the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

The provision allowing international students to include online study terms toward their future PGWP, as long as it doesn’t exceed half of the total program duration, will be extended until September 1, 2024.

However, there will be no further special extensions for PGWPs beyond this period, emphasizing IRCC’s commitment to maintaining clarity and stability in its policies.

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Nigerian Federal Government Initiates 40% Deduction From Universities’ Internally Generated Revenues, Prompting Concerns

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The Nigerian federal government has embarked on the implementation of a controversial policy that imposes a 40 percent automatic deduction from the internally generated revenues (IGR) of federal universities and partially-funded institutions.

This decision, aligned with the Finance Circular dated December 20, 2021, aims to limit the annual budgetary expenditure derived from IGR.

In a letter issued by the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Madein, the policy of a 40 percent auto-deduction was communicated to universities and institutions.

The letter, approved by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, was signed by the Director of Revenue & Investment in the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Felix Ore-ofe Ogundairo.

The new directive enforces that agencies and parastatals must remit up to 50 percent of their gross IGR, channeling the remaining 50 percent to the Sub-recurrent Account.

All statutory revenue lines, such as Tender Fees, Contractor’s Registration Fees, and Rent on Quarters, are to be remitted entirely to the Sub-recurrent Account.

While the federal government hinted at granting universities more autonomy to explore financing sources, this move has sparked controversy within the education sector.

Critics argue that the policy will stifle institutional activities, hinder critical projects, and potentially force institutions to increase fees, thereby impacting students and their families.

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has also voiced concerns, highlighting the potential repercussions for universities.

University authorities, meanwhile, argue that the policy contradicts the government’s perception of universities as revenue-generating entities while providing inadequate funding and inhibiting their development.

The policy raises questions about the government’s approach to education financing and may lead to increased financial strain on students.

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