Students’ Abductions: Education Sector, Future Of Our Children Under Attack, Reps Lament
Continued attacks and abductions of school children, especially the female ones, have put the education sector and the future of our wards under serious jeopardy, members of the House of Representatives said, yesterday.
Speaking through the House Committee on Basic Education and Services, the members also lamented the deplorable infrastructure in various primary and secondary schools across the country, urging the state governments to wake up to their responsibilities.
A statement from the Chairman of the House Committee, Prof Julius O. Ihonvbere, who also represents Owan Federal Constituency of Edo State, stated that the invasions and unabating kidnappings of school children have constituted a huge embarrassment to Nigeria.
“The House Committee on Basic Education and Services has observed with great alarm the steady dislocation and deterioration of basic education, especially in states that are badly affected by frequent kidnappings, Boko Haram and bandit attacks.
“This has compelled many state governments to shut down schools, especially boarding houses. The invasion of schools has disrupted the school calendar, destroyed school infrastructure and properties, traumatized our children, scared off teachers and school administrators.
“The clear consequences of these attacks are that children are afraid to return to school, parents are uncertain if their wards would be safe in school, and teachers and administrators can no longer concentrate fully on their duties. Insecurity is now breeding a palpable fear for education in Nigeria.
“Without doubt, it is the view of our committee that these happenings constitute a huge embarrassment to our nation. With the largest number of out-of-school children in the world, now, insecurity of steadily shutting down the school system in historically underserved communities. Even war-torn nations do not experience such levels and frequencies of attacks as they affect our schools.
“There are serious gaps in our state and federal policies on basic education, especially school administration and safety.
“When school reopens, the girl child will be the biggest loser in this unfortunate development. Already suffering from all sorts of deprivations, many will not return to school and the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria will increase further.
“Government at all levels must begin to design new and sustainable policies and programmes to protect, encourage and keep the girl-child in school.
“The state of infrastructure in many of our schools all over the country remains embarrassing. The infrastructure at the Government Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, is just a sampler in the widespread neglect of the school and environment that our children are expected to live and study in.
“The basic education sector is under attack. Our children are under attack and our collective future is under attack. The consequences of the current disruptions will be evident very shortly unless urgent steps are taken”, Ihonvbere said in the statement.
Recalling that President Muhammadu Buhari had issued a shoot-at-sight order, the committee, however, regretted that the vices have continued incessantly, and even assuming a more disturbing dimension.
In a measure of admonition, the committee called for new policies and strategies to give adequate protection to schools.
“Though the President has assured Nigerians that the Kankara kidnapping of school children was going to be the last in the country, announced a shoot-at-sight- order for anyone illegally in possession of AK-47 rifles, and announced that kidnapers would face a very hard time, these horrible attacks have continued, especially in Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states unabated.
“The policies, while laudable, did not address the glaring deficits in basic education.
“The Federal Government continues to provide matching grants to all states and the Federal Capital Territory; yet, the situation is not improving. While more funding is urgently needed, the deployment of such allocated funds needs to be adequately monitored. The committee is already embarking on a nationwide oversight activity on the utilization of matching grants received by States and the FCT in the last decade.
“It is amazing that basic perimeter fencing is no longer provided for schools. The Template on School Resumption in the Covid-19 period by the Federal Ministry of Education, prescribed a single entrance and exit access to all schools. As is now obvious, our schools, save for a few, are very porous and it is easy for kidnappers, bandits, rapists, cultists, lunatics, drug dealers and traders of all wares to access the premises.
“There is clearly an urgent need for new policies in this area with states exploring novel ways to protect school premises. We also note that our governments – local, state and federal, are yet to design and put in place a basic early-warning security facility that can transmit information from the school gate to the school head and to relevant security agencies as soon as there are signs of attack.
“This should be taken up as a matter of urgency. It is essential for all schools to develop an emergency response protocol to promote individual and collective safety.
“The committee urges the federal and state governments to design holistic strategies for involving the youth organisations, community groups, traditional and religious leaders in the design of ways and means of self-protection rather than sitting idly by when hundreds of our children are carted away on foot by bandits. Working with security agents the menace of these criminal elements can be curtailed”, the committee stated.
JAMB Decries Use Of Fake Results For Admission
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has decried the high level of forgery of A Level certificates used for the registration.
JAMB Registrar, Professor Is-haq Oloyede, who raised the alarm, recalled that the Board had commenced the 2023 Direct Entry registration on Monday, 20th February but immediately suspended it following the discovery of the plethora of devices and machinations to circumvent and compromise the standard of A ‘level qualifications required from DE candidates.
He disclosed that out of 148 candidates verified by Bayero University Kano (BUK), only 6 were found to be genuine.
“By implication 142 of the results were forged. Oloyede said. Bayero University, Kano (BUK) has also consistently brought to the fore the high rate of forgery of A’Level qualifications for DE.
“It was discovered that in previous years, some candidates used unacceptable and forged A’ level certificates/ qualifications to register for Direct Entry and eventually got admitted. For example out of 148 candidates verified by BUK, only 6 were found to be genuine. By implication 142 of the results were forged.
“The Board, concerned stakeholders and institutions are working assiduously to detect such and the ones already found are being dealt with according to the provisions of the law.
“In order to further checkmate the anomaly and to also prevent recurrence of such irregularity, the Board has decided that the 2023 DE registrations will not only be restricted to JAMB (Professional Test Centres (PTCs) but will also be done under strict supervision,” Oloyode said.
“The Board has provided additional guidelines to all DE registration outlets (JAMB-owned centres), Officers of the Board and candidates on the 2023 Direct Entry registration exercise:
“At the point of registration, all candidates must fill in Registration/Matriculation Number of the previous school attended where the qualification was obtained; Subject(s) of qualification; Awarding Institution; Institution actually attended”, he said.
‘Nigerians Have Lost Confidence, Trust In INEC’
As post-election crisis gathers momentum, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria’s 2023 general elections has declared that Nigerians have lost confidence and trust in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) owing to lack of transparency and operational failures.
The EU EOM Chief Observer, Barry Andrews, made the assertion at a Media Briefing to present the Mission’s second preliminary reports, in Abuja, Monday.
Andrews noted that although Nigerians had great appetite for democracy and keen to engage in various civic activities, their expectations were dashed.
According to him, the apathy recorded at the governorship and states House of Assembly elections conducted last Saturday was a clear consequence of failures by political elites and “unfortunately, INEC.”
Andrews said: “Obstruction and organised violence limited the free expression of the will of the voters, despite efforts by civil society to promote democratic standards.
“Throughout the Mission, we saw that Nigerians have a great appetite for democracy and are keen to engage in various civic activities. However, in many parts of the country, their expectations were not met.
“Many were disappointed and we witnessed voter apathy that is in part, a clear consequence of failures by political elites, and unfortunately, also by INEC.
“Positively, INEC introduced some corrective measures ahead of Saturday’s polls, allowing a timely delivery of sensitive materials and improved use of election technologies, yet, the institution continued to lack transparency.”
The Mission also observed that voting started early with INEC ad-hoc officials present and ready to serve voters, but the exercise was unfortunately, disrupted by “multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation of voters, polling officials, observers, and journalists”.
The Mission noted that Lagos, Kano, and other States in the Southern, Northern and Central parts of the country were mostly affected, adding that the election was equally characterised by casualties, fatalities, as well as vote-buying, which according to the observers, further detracted from an appropriate conduct of elections.
“EU EOM observers also saw misuse of administrative resources, including through various financial and in-kind inducements to voters, giving an undue advantage to the party in power.
“Furthermore, the protracted deadlines for candidacy disputes created uncertainty for voters and electoral contestants alike, while clear underrepresentation of women as candidates demonstrated a stark lack of internal party policies to support constitutionally prescribed inclusion
‘Youths To Benefit From Climate Change Innovation Hub’
The Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Sani Tambuwal, has expressed optimism that the recently established National Climate Change Innovation Hub would help in harnessing the potential among Nigerian youths towards addressing climate issues.
The CNA stated this during the commemoration of the 2023 Commonwealth Day with the theme ‘Forging A Sustainable And Peaceful Common Future’ held at the instance of National Assembly management, in Abuja, Monday.
Represented by the Deputy Clerk, National Assembly (DCNA), Barrister Kamoru Ogunlana, Tambuwal observed that the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and other climate issues in the world if not properly managed, would posed great danger to world peace and a sustainable future.
He assured that Federal Government had put measures in place to address some issues on climate change through the establishment of youth climate change hub to harness their ideas and include them in decision-making process as well as develop long-term vision for zero gas emissions.
In her presentation, Mrs. Rabi Audu stressed the need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders towards forging a sustainable and peaceful environment.
Audu also urged the youths to engage in activities and programmes that would promoter innovations and inclusivity for all.
According to her, governments and parliaments have to increase opportunities for schools across the Commonwealth countries, adopt higher education partnerships and development programmes that would lead to economic growth, social inclusion and environmental conservation.
While noting that the establishment of more programmes like the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) would aid the attainment of these, Audu further stressed the need for Commonwealth member countries to establish technical and vocational education that would help in gainfully equipping the youths with skills to further tackle high rate of youth unemployment.
Some of the students who participated in the programme tasked parliaments across Commonwealth member States on the need to hold their governments to account particularly on the areas of public spending, international crisis, investment sustainability and promotion of the benefits of inclusive and diverse representation in truly open societies.
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