John Gurdon, winner of 2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine, speaks to parents of academically dull children PAGE 35
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
EducationReview EDITED BY CHIKA ABANOBI
N I G E R I A’ S V O I C E O F E D U C AT I O N
Read & Lead How Bukola, Ladoja’s wife, is helping to bring back the book by redefining the way our children study their books
UNN student designs rocket
PAGES 26 & 27
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Education Review/COVER “The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I haven’t read” – Abraham Lincoln
From PATRICK AKPUH, Ibadan
er name is Treasure Obasi. She is beautiful, intelligent and well-spoken. Despite hailing from Imo State, she speaks with a smooth British accent and this quickly won to her a lot of fans on the reality television show. Thus, viewers considered her a strong favourite to win the competition. She did not disappoint them as the show progressed. When it was time for an impromptu speech contest, it was believed that she would have it easy, given her well-known speaking prowess. But quite sadly, she fumbled, apparently having underrated her topic. Her speech lost grasp and direction and she knew she had lost it. She was thus eliminated from the 21-day long competition and had to leave the camp the next day. Just like her viewing fans back home, she was disappointed and heartbroken. But events took a twist. Once the show was over, fellow competitors went to her room to console her but discovered, to their dismay, that she had disappeared from her room. They searched the entire hostel environs, but she was nowhere to be found. Time was 11 pm. This threw everyone, including camp officials, into panic and confusion. Having battled with health challenges earlier in the competition and now suffering from a heartbreak, everyone feared the worst could happen to her wherever she must have hidden herself at that time of the night, in a town the organizers were hardly familiar with. “Treasure! Treasure!!” her seekers called frantically, “Where are you? Please come out…” But mum was the word. Dramas like this, plus tears, laughter, quarrels, arguments and pain, were recently part of some teenage boys and girls, aged between 14 and 18, who battled one another for a $30,000 scholarship prize. The battle arena was the maiden edition of Read to Lead Africa Reality TV show created by Reading Awareness Society for Development in Africa (RASDA), an NGO committed to improving reading culture among Nigerian students. It has just finished running its course on Lagos Television (LTV), Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Ogun State Television (OGTV) and
Ladoja spurs youths to lead Africa, through reading …but the reality TV show, first of its kind, suffers sponsorship neglect Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC). Like the famous Big Brother Africa, the show, stirring suspense and emotions, opened a thrilling window into the lives of its participants. But this time around, the participants were 17 teenagers from various senior secondary schools, across the country, who behaved exceptionally and lived as housemates for 21 days. But apart from living and relating together as housemates and escaping eviction from the Read to Lead House, the road to the grand prize was their ability to employ the wealth of knowledge and exposure they had gathered through reading and intellectual pursuit. CONTESTANTS AND CONTENDERS Apart from Treasure who came from Reagan Baptist Girls Secondary School, Lagos, other participants include Adedeji Grace (Osogbo Grammar School), Anifowose Tobi (Modakeke High School, Osun State), Badiru Oyinkansola (Home Science
Secondary School, Lagos), Lawal Mubarak (Agboran School of Science, Ede, Osun State), Ojodu Sodiq (Paragon Secondary School, Ogun State) and Lamidi Mufutau (Ogbomoso School of Science, Oyo). Not to forget Onifade Taiwo, Onifade Kehinde, Adewale Esther, and Ajibade Anuoluwapo, all from Ataoja School of Science, Osogbo, Ojenike Oluwatobi and Okparavero Oghenemedia, from Poly Staff College, Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun State and Abisagbo Victor and Akingbola Blessing who came from Police Secondary School, Akure Ondo State. According to Mrs. Bukola Ladoja, president and founder of the NGO and Executive producer of the show, it was created in order to take the reading crusade into many homes that have television sets, and into as many hearts as possible. “We produced Read to Lead Africa for various reasons” she said, “Our young people’s interests are continually being shifted towards
music, TV and internet social networks. Books don’t fascinate them anymore. Merely advising them to read and telling them the values of reading has become too challenging and seems not to be yielding results. Failure rates in internal and external examinations have become a national emergency. So, it is now important to take the books to TV and the internet social networks where these young ones now spend most of their time.” The three weeks show comprised one week of training and two grueling weeks of competition and eviction. Experts and professionals like Sina Kawonise, Managing Director of Western Publishers Ltd and Editor-in-Chief, Compass newspapers; Dr. Bisi Olawuyi of the Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan; Mrs. Adejumoke Ajibola of the National Library, Ibadan; Mrs. Bukola Ladoja, author and wife of former gov-
•Continued on Page 27
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
COVER/Education Review “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island” — Walt Disney
Winner goes home with $30,000 cash prize •Continued from Page 26 ernor of Oyo State, Alhaji Rasheed Ladoja; Mr. Bolaji Akinwunmi, CEO Inn house innovations and other writers, journalists, librarians, and teachers visited the house and put the housemates through lessons in public speaking, writing skills, reading skills, leadership skills, arts and crafts, drama and how to use the library. Fitness exercises, moonlight activities, dance parties and field trips were also part of the programme and viewers saw it all on their TV screens, presented with rich entertainment. Apart from watching and learning from the classes, viewers also enjoyed watching the housemates spend their evenings partying, playing games and swimming. They also saw them cry. The first was on the seventh day of the show when housemates got a bad news from their housemaster with whom they had deeply fallen in love. He had to leave the house for an urgent trip to India for medical attention, it was announced. Not minding the cameras, they “cried for him a river”, wishing the circumstances could be changed or reversed by the volume of tears they shed. They watched helplessly as he packed his bags and left the house in company of a friend who had come to pick him up. Thereafter, a mournful mood enveloped the house. To cheer them up, organizers quickly packaged a fun trip to Erin Ijesa Waterfalls, a beautiful natural sight to behold in Osun State. They were glad to have such a treat. They got to the Falls. But hardly had they started to bask in the euphoria of the cascading waters than they were presented with yet another gift. “Somebody has just been deported from India”, Mrs. Ladoja announced, and lo and behold, it was their housemaster! Not surprising, wild jubilation broke out among the contestants and the water seemed to wash away their tears… India? The India story was just a prank, after all. He never smelt India. But as competition and eviction week rolled in, the mood in the house changed drastically. Housemates became sober, withdrawn and more engaged in studies and reading. At the end of each eviction task, housemates were ranked and the lowest three got evicted from the house. The tasks elicited emotions and tears but that was the rallying point of the show. All 17 housemates faced eviction one after the other as they competed in public speaking and debate contests where housemates were paired by ballot to face one another in one-aside bouts. This created the drama of having two friends pitched against each other and scenarios like “Clash of the Titans” and “David and Goliath”. They tackled topics like “Corruption: the giver is guiltier than the receiver”, “Developing countries contribute more to environmental pollution than developed countries”, “e-libraries should replace traditional libraries”, “Death penalty has no place in civilized society” and so on Through Spell-it contests, essay writing and reading, quiz and impromptu speech contests, viewers emotionally saw some of their favourite housemates evicted. From their adolescent perspectives, housemates boisterously addressed issues like corruption, equality before the law, discipline, child abuse, teamwork, dreams and free and fair elections. It was at this point that Treasure Obasi broke many hearts, including hers. The final was held on September 8, 2012 to commemorate the United Nation’s International Day of Literacy. The duo of 15year-old Abisagbo Victor and 16-year-old Ojenike Oluwatobi engaged each other in a presidential debate contest where they spoke on how they would achieve 100% literacy if they became Nigeria’s President. They spoke in the presence of a large audience comprising parents of all housemates including theirs, invited guests which included politicians and dignitaries like veteran broadcaster and General Manager of OGTV, Ayinde Soaga, Attorney General of Oyo State, Chief Bayo Ojo, Chief
•Mrs Ladoja Executive Officer of the National Library, represented by Abdul-Ghaniyi Adebimpe and foremost education expert, Prof. Clement Kolawole of the University of Ibadan. At the end of the explosive encounter, Ojenike Oluwatobi emerged winner to the elation of her parents and all those who admired and believed
in her. DARK SIDES OF THE SHOW Irrespective of the show’s huge success and impact on its many viewers, it was affected by lack of sponsorship which denied it wide coverage and first-class multimedia. Except for the
donation of few books by Evans Publishers, Heinemann Books, University Press Plc and the National Library, and a late advert placement by Unilever Plc, Mrs. Ladoja bore much of the expenses. She said: “It was a long and rough journey to where we are today. And I think the name, Ladoja, was partly responsible because many people thought I had gotten money from my husband.” Another dark side of the show was the poor response it received at the initial stage. Opeyemi Ajilore, associate producer of the show told Education Review: “when early in the year, registration for the show was opened on our website, at a fee of N1000, only 15 participants registered. This is in spite of the numerous jingles ran on television. But I hope the response for the next edition would be better. Simply log on to myrasda.tv” According to her, the Osun State Government partly saved the situation by registering 3000 of her public school students at half the initial fee. Many viewers berated corporate bodies for not supporting such a show which is “intellectual in content and entertaining in presentation,” despite the fact that they spend a big chunk of their promotional budget on solely music and entertainment-based shows like Project Fame, Nigerian Idol and Big Brother Africa. According to them, the show did not just entertain, it changed the lives of its viewers and participants. Speaking at the grand finale, Ayinde Soaga praised the effort of Mrs. Ladoja and her RASDA crew and called on corporate organizations to rally round and support her laudable initiative. His words: “I can see the challenges; in fact they are very evident here. But if someone can put this together, on her own and make so much impact, I know she would do far better with the support of corporate bodies and well-meaning Nigerians.” Indeed, viewers are quick to confess that the show was quite a spectacle on TV and a perfect blend of education and entertainment. Nigerians who saw it definitely cannot wait to see Read to Lead Africa Season 2. However, many criticized the organizers for making the competition a “winner-takes-all” event. To them, $30,000 was too much for one person, and it was unfair to let others go empty-handed. Going back to the Treasure Obasi’s story, there’s no doubt that you are anxious to know what happened to her? Was she found or did she go missing altogether? Well, she was, after a long search, eventually found crying in the toilet of one of the dark vacant rooms in the hostel. But she did, certainly, tried her best to win!
DAILY SUN Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Education Review/SPECIAL REPORT “No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new fashions nor regret the loss of expensive diversions or variety of company if she can be amused with an author in her closet.” – Lady Montagu, 1752
TECHINIQUITY! How GSM, European Premier Leagues and Internet are helping to lower Nigeria’s education standard BY ORI MARTINS
he results of May/June 2012 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) released by West African Examination Council (WAEC), showed that Nigerian students are yet to wake up from their intellectual slumber. As candidates prepare to sit for the 2012 Nov/Dec. GCE doubts are being expressed, in many quarters, as to whether there will be much improvement in the results, at the end of the day. Well, time will tell. But the reason for the doubts is not farfetched: a breakdown of the result figures for May/June exams announced in Lagos by Iyi Uwadiae, the former head of the Nigeria National Office of WAEC, shows that out of the 1,672,224 candidates that sat for the examination, 649,156 representing 38.81 percent obtained credits in five subjects and above including English Language and Mathematics, a figure said to be an increase of about 8 percent from the 30.91 percent recorded in 2011. Most stakeholders see the poor results recorded in the JAMB and WAEC results of this year as true reflection of the rot in Nigeria’s education standard. This year’s JAMB result, just like the WAEC’s after it, clearly showed that Nigeria’s standard of education is gradually but steadily taking a dip. Figures released by Prof Dibu Ojerinde, the JAMB Registrar who also doubles as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the body, indicated that only three students out of the 1,503,931 who sat for the examination scored 300 and above. This is a poor result when compared with candidates’ performance in the 2011 JAMB examination where a total of 2,892 of the 1,493,603 candidates that sat for the examinations scored 300 and above. It was even worse in the 2010 academic calendar as no student out of the 1,276,795 that took part in the examination got up to 300. EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE It was with bitterness and frustration Ojerinde, announced to reporters in Abuja that his agency had withheld a total of 27, 266 results due to various examination malpractices. The JAMB boss revealed that about 30 mobile phones, intended for exam cheating, were seized from candidates across the country. According to the JAMB boss: “We know that those engaged in examination malpractice will stop at nothing to achieve their aims. In 2012, some new tricks were displayed by the crooks, with candidates embedding their mobile handsets in sandals. This was discovered during our scanner checks after the candidates passed through the biometric verification machine.” He added: “A look at some of their antics will show negative ingenuity Ojerinde observed that things were made on parade, but we said no matter how smart worse by some invigilators, teachers and they may think they are, they would be security operatives who collaborated with caught and flushed.” the candidates to cheat during the exams.
have assured the public that all these bad elements would be brought to book accordingly, just as I made bold to say that JAMB would not spare any culpable person.” Talking about exam malpractice, in 2010, 20,780 candidates had their exams withheld. But the 2012 JAMB hit an alltime high on the exam malpractice index as 23,819 candidates had their results withheld. So, why do candidates find cheating in exam easier than reading their books? It is not as if they gave their time and energy to serious reading, they would not perform better in exams than they are currently doing, without having to cheat. But the question is, why are they not willing to engage themselves in serious studies? Those are the questions that Education Review took to stakeholders. Mike Ikenga, Assistant Headmaster, at Eke-Ugiri Community Primary School, Mbutu, Aboh-Mbaise, Imo State, argues that some of the parents, teachers and students are to blame. “I can tell you that some teachers, parents and students are actually responsible for the unfortunate crash of Nigeria’s standard of education and I am not downplaying poor funding from respective governments,” he said. “But a situation where parents bribe educationists and teachers so as to award high marks to their children against the students’ abilities is quite condemnable. There are also some students who either intimidate or influence teachers or lecturers, for the purpose of getting examination favours.” But apart from parents-aided exam cheating, others point to students’ addiction to smart phones like Blackberry, I-phone, Internet gadgets like I-pads, English Premier leagues, Internet social networks and cultism as responsible for their poor reading/study habits. FOOTBALL, INTERNET AND SOCIAL NET“During the 2012 UTME, we had some disturbing news of extortion of innocent WORKS Whereas it is said all work and no play candidates by greedy proprietors, supervisors and invigilators,” he said. “But we •Continued on Page 29
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
SPECIAL REPORT/Education Review “So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall” — Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Consultant tasks NASS on use of gadgets in schools “I even know that some teachers and lecturers come to classes to tell tales of latest march in the English Premier League, instead of teaching. With this type of scenario, I am not surprised therefore that only three students were able to score 300 and above in the last JAMB examinations.” •Continued from Page 28 makes Jack a dull boy, it is also true that all play and no work makes Jack a mere toy. These days, all play and no intellectual work is turning out to be the undoing of many Nigerian students as shown by dismal results being posted by examination bodies. According to Mrs. T.C. Iwuh, a retired educationist with the Imo State Educational Management Board, “The truth is that, with the advent of improved technology which has made live telecast of matches in any part of the world very possible with satellite dishes and decoders, most Nigerian students seem not to concentrate on their studies anymore as what catches their fancies now is nothing but football. Rather than debate intellectual issues like the bad economy, poor governance, political crisis and other vital issues militating against the country’s growth, the youths are rather busy arguing among themselves about which players will score or outscore others in the European football games. “Today it is the English Premiership and the trouble is either Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester City; tomorrow it is Spanish La Liga where Barcelona and Real Madrid hold sway; at other times it is the Champions League and this is about the best teams in Europe. I can tell you that there are some of our secondary school students who can afford to watch these clubs play in a night preceding their examination days. “Mind you, this madness is an all-year round thing. The question is, when do the students have time to read their books? This a big problem and no one is addressing it. I even know of teachers and lecturers who come to classes to tell tales of latest march in the European Premier Leagues, instead of teaching. With this type of scenario, I am not surprised therefore that only three students were able to score 300 and above in JAMB examinations.” Prof. Louis Egwari, Head of the Department of Biological Sciences, and Deputy Dean, School of Natural and Applied Sciences, Covenant University, Ota, regrets that an average Nigerian youth devotes much time to football and entertainment. “I was taken aback when some weeks ago, I heard that they were organising beauty pageants in secondary schools,” he recounted. “By doing that we are, inevitably, asking our children to forget about education and take the short-cut to stardom, fame and wealth. Therefore, no
matter how good the teachers are, or how well-equipped the schools are, as long as the youths’ mind has been diverted to other areas other than education, nothing can be
achieved. We will continue to have mass failure in exams. The huge awareness being created for entertainment and sports fixtures is causing a great problem. Today,
students feel compelled to go to school. They see their going as something they are doing just to satisfy their parents and once they are through, they will go into showbusiness or sports. Go round the campuses and see what students are doing with their laptops, BlackBerry phones, i-Pad etc. It is nothing related to academics and it’s eroding our values.” Contributing, Dr. Chinelo Ogoamaka Duze of the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies, Delta State University, Abraka, noted that there is every reason to worry as far as the negative effects of technology on the standard of education in Nigeria is concerned. “I must tell you that in our days, novels, notebooks and other literatures used to be our companions,” she recounted in a chat with Education Review. “At every point in time, you brainstormed with your friends, classmates or students from neighbouring schools and this made us what we are today. But most students of today are rather at home with the Internet, the computer, Facebook, GSM especially the BlackBerry, MP3, MP4, CD and things like that. Generally speaking, there is nothing absolutely wrong with a student in the secondary school or university having or possessing these items if they are handled properly. The problem is that most of them use it wrongly by operating them at the wrong place and at the wrong time and even with the wrong persons and, obviously, for the wrong reasons.” By way of elaboration of her points, she added that, “the Facebook, for instance, connects you with former pals and present friends. You may not, ordinarily, have had their contacts, but with Facebook, you can easily be linked with such persons. But, you can testify to all the crooked things students use the Facebook and other Internet facilities for. Things ought to be controlled, else our students, both in the universities and secondary schools, will be led astray.” That is also the opinion of Dr. Uwaoma Uche, the Head of Department, Mass Communication Department, Abia State University Uturu (ABSU), who regrets that although “inventors of all these gadgets want to make life easy for everybody living in this generation, including the students, sadly some students are using them for the wrong reasons.” Worried by the negative influence of modern communication technology on the reading habit of Nigerian students, especially secondary school pupils, Mr. Afam Onuigbo, an Ikeja-based IT consultant and computer expert, would want to see the National Assembly come up with some form of regulatory laws on its use by primary and secondary school pupils. “Anything that has no control or laws guiding it is dangerous,” he told Education Review. “You must agree with me that the way and manner our kids in the secondary schools are handling all forms of computers especially the handsets are quite alarming. There are reports that some students fiddle with their phones in the classrooms while lessons are going on. They are either reading text messages or they are sending same. If they can have the audacity to operate their GSM handsets before their teachers you can imagine what goes on when neither the teachers nor the parents are around to monitor them. This is why I am calling on the National Assembly to enact laws that will checkmate the excesses or wrong use of handsets by primary or secondary school students.”
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Education Review/ISSUE “Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century” — Perelman
Looking at Now:
21st Century Education in Africa (3) By YOMBO ADERINTO INSTRUCTION n a natural flow with the curriculum is instruction. Semantically, instruction is an act of educating, giving orders, or teaching - a line of understanding that presupposes that instruction can be authoritarian, one-sided and contrived. Unfortunately, this semantic imagery has conditioned the craft or practice of education in most learning environments around the world, especially in Africa. To really anchor ourselves in the realities of today’s education, we need to look at learning, instead of instruction, as a larger picture and a more democratic and inclusive concept than instruction. We must see instruction as an aspect of learning, not an end of it. If learning then becomes the focus of education rather than the more restrictive and narrower instruction approach to education, the role of a 21st century educator, therefore, is making learning happen, or delivering the specific objectives of whatever is identified as learning as determined by the curriculum. Let’s then ask: what is the role of the educator in learning? The role of educator in learning is to simply present information, activities, skills, experiences and application opportunities that will allow the learner to meet the identified objectives as prescribed by the curriculum/standards. This is a general and relevant prescription that ought not to be level specific; it has to be the standard from kindergarten all the way to post-college level. In context of learning, Educator must allow for student prior knowledge and perspectives that can lead to relevant discoveries for both the educator and the learner. Extended opportunities for exploration and possible discovery, as well as practice, can be highly yielding. In fact, what I call the learning cycle is more authoritative and productive with discovery/new knowledge and Resources, including support services, application of such. In all of its attributes, it’s augur very well for good learning. the completeness of the learning cycle in Unfortunately, existing educational education - prior knowledge, knowledge, resources in Africa are scant and hardly exploration, discovery and application— enough for constructive and comprehensive that constitutes empowerment. The prevail- learning. The educator must be aware of the ing observation on learning in Africa, unfor- necessary resources to deliver the identified tunately, is that learning has never been this objectives. It follows then that each country definitive. At best, it’s rote! Pure rote and quality deficient! This can no longer be the case now (21st century) that learning and its measures are more comprehensive and competitive globally. Relevant for learning on the educator part are also sets and subsets of educator strategies applying to both the educator and the learner. These require formal and informal skills, among which are teacher intuition, timing, pacing, sensibilities to and opportunities for multisensory/multi-modal approaches, as well as good, old passion for teaching and learning. From my own experience as a learner in Africa and from diligent observation of the current practices in most countries in Africa, strategies and relevant sensibilities are hardly inherent in teacher stock. Teacher craft, for the most part, is just cold presentation of existing information/knowledge, rather unnuanced by exploration, discoveries, and application. What this tart learning produces then is static knowledge contrary to the dynamism of constructive learning. Sad to say that growth is always distant in a case like this. Also, needless to say that this type of educator craft is totally incompatible with the demands of the 21st century education. •Aderinto
in Africa, to demonstrate its seriousness about education in the 21st century and beyond, must address the needs of all learners in terms of resources. A big scare for me in African education today is the abdication of educational responsibility by the government. What government participation/intervention in education does is guarantee equal access, meaning for example that a child in the village of parents with meager means has access to the same core as that child in the city with affluent parents. This is the educational right that ought to be granted all by virtue of government responsibility. Now looking ravaged, desolate and presenting with forlorn ambience, my old elementary school and high schools still stand scarily metaphoric in the way they present today as fixtures of observed degradation/regression in education that is manifest in the teachers we now present, students we graduate and the less than mediocre workforce in our system today. So walking my elementary school recently, I wondered - and still wonder - if Mr. Adeleye, the teacher who inspired us to think and do big, was represented in the classroom. I wondered if Aderemi, the son of a struggling photographer during my time, could have ever become a doctor that he is now, given the state of the school today. I wondered if Yemisi, the most disadvantaged but incredibly brilliant student in my class, could have become the nuclear physicist that they say she is today, again given current depravity that characterizes the school. Both
Aderemi and Yemisi are productive citizens and are an asset to the nation, courtesy of equal access inherent in public education. A reasonable deduction from all of this is that a strong public education program has a direct effect on the welfare of a nation. No doubt! When it comes to public education in Africa, most countries have a lot of catching up to do. The future is no more distant than our current state; it looks every bit like my primary school now - broken! If this is the future then, it must be undone and be well done to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. As I exit, I leave you with my perspective on education: Education is that lone light that brightens the darkest and deepest recesses of our world. It illuminates and projects the truth while extinguishing lots of dehumanizing factors in our lives. It is perhaps the greatest attribute that determines and defines the welfare of an individual, community, nation and our world. It is a priceless and precious gift every nation ought to grant its citizenry - with equal access! •(Concluded). Aderinto, an award-winning educator whose 26 years experience in education spans a wide range covering early childhood education all the way to college/university is known for his expertise in pedagogy, training, consulting, workshops, assessment, special and general education. The Executive Director, US Africa Business Forum (USAfricaBF), sent this contribution from Artesia, California, U.S.A.
Tuesday, October16, 2012
CAMPUS SQUARE Where students report happenings on their campuses... with Sam Otti ( firstname.lastname@example.org/08038829740)
“Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful” – John Wooden
Dieke showcasing table lantern
Idoko displaying the rocket propellant
‘Anything Japanese can do, Nigerians can do better The story of young inventors begging for support
...says 20-year-old student who designed amateur solid rocket propellant From ALOYSIUS ATTAH, Onitsha
re you one of those worried that our universities do not produce researchers and innovators anymore? Maybe you have lost hope that nothing good will ever come out of our ivory towers again, and because of that, are making plans to send your children abroad for higher education. There is hope. The indomitable spirit and ingenuity of Nigerians that were on display during Nigerian Civil War when Biafrans produced “shore batteries” rockets, “ogbunigwe” (the dread mass killer) and other war arsenals are still present with us. This was in evidence, recently, during proj-
ects defense organized by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nigeria Nsukka. A 20-year-old of the department called Idoko Modestus Chijioke stunned the panel of assessors when he presented an amateur solid rocket propellant as his own project. His lecturers not only marveled at his ingenuity, his supervisor, Dr. J. A. Alhassan, was so proud of him that he called on the federal government to assist the young genius to achieve the best so as to conquer hisworld. . The amateur rocket has PVC-pipe as the motor casing, aluminum as the nose cone, 1/2-inch pvc-cover, aluminum and a 1/2inch diameter pipe as the nozzle. The propellant is made up of 325 grams of potassi-
um nitrate (oxidizer) and 175 grams of sorbitol (sugar), making a total of 500 grams. The PVC-pipe is of 3/4-inch diameter, and 65 cm in length. The rocket motor igniter is a mixture of potassium nitrate and charcoal at 80/20 ratio, to form it into a black powder (gun powder) Amateur rocketry is also known as experimental rocketry. The project design objective according to Chijioke was to test the workability of a potassium nitrate (oxidizer) and sorbitol (fuel) blended into a KN-SB propellant for the amateur rocket made with local materials. The rocket which was launched successfully on one of the hill-tops behind the university attained an estimated height of 35m in flight.
In a chance encounter with this reporter, Chijioke shed more light on how he came up with the idea for the project. “ I came up with this project because of a childhood dream of being a rocket scientist,” he said, “and this particularly led me into the Department of Physics and Astronomy, of UNN, to get a good grasp of the physics/science of rockets and an understanding of astronomy for which rocket is basically built.” Asked what challenges he encountered in the course of carrying out the project, the soft spoken young man said he cannot point to any because according to him, “life is all
•Continued on Page 32
DAILY SUN Tuesday, October 16, 2012
CAMPUS SQUARE Where students report happenings on their campuses... with Sam Otti (email@example.com/08038829740)
“For every talent that poverty has stimulated it has blighted a hundred” – John W. Gardner By SAM OTTI
‘Talents waste for lack of support’
liver Chidiebere Dieke is a young man with a big heart. He grew up in a rural community without electricity, where he used kerosene lamps to study at night. Seeing the hazard of reading under this poor light, he took up the task of designing an affordable table lantern for fellow students living in rural areas. To this end, Dieke successfully designed a portable table lamp powered by AC batteries that radiates bright light. The project which he said could be upgraded to a rechargable lantern, took him two years to complete. In his explanations, he said the lantern was produced using the principle of light emitting diode (LED). Although he admitted that thereare similar products in the market, he, however, explained that his investigation revealed that those products burn easily because they do not have resistors. He explained the peculiar qualities of the lantern, saying, “During my research, I arrived at an average number of voltages that can power the light emitting diode without getting it damaged. So, with the resistor, the LED can serve up to 20 years. The lantern has 20 years guarantee from me. It will only spoil when its lifetime expires. Dieke in his workshop “The resistor helps to limit or regulate the current so that it will not destroy the light reporter how he lost the golden opportunity of They told me that millions of graduates have emitting diode. The ones in the market pack studying at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in no job, yet I was spending my money to get a up within weeks or months because the volt- 2008, shortly after his graduation from certificate.” Secondary School, ages that enter the led are not regulated. Community Undeterred by these comments, he successDuring my research, I arrived at an average Abbi/Ugbene, Uzo-Uwani L.G.A, Enugu fully completed his ND programme and number of voltages that can power the light State. emerged the best graduating student from In his desperate quest to eke out a living, he Warri centre. To prove his detractors wrong, emitting diode without getting it damaged. So, with the resistor, I was able to work on the left his village to Warri, Delta State, where he Dieke designed and constructed an autoresistor that will help the diode to serve up to started a petty business on electrical appli- transformer for his project at school. 20 years. The lantern has 20 years guarantee ances. Aside turning his shop into a workGiving details of the transformer, he said, “It from me. It will only spoil when its lifetime shop, it became a springboard for his National was a medium sized transformer that could be Diploma programme at the Allover Central used in electrical devices like stabilizers or expires”. Owing to the durability of the lanterns, the Polytechnic, Sango-Otta, which has its satel- inverters. It helps in regulating power. Being unit cost has been pegged at N450, making it lite campus in Warri. an auto-transformer, it has a single input and “When I started business, I was convinced multiple outputs. The one I did had six tabs affordable for poor families. “I did not produce it to make money,” Dieke said. “I want within me that I wouldn’t be a full-time busi- output, with 80 tab voltage, 120 tab voltage, to help less privileged families, especially ness man, staying in the shop and making 160 tab voltage, 200 tab voltage and 260 tab their children that still read with kerosene money. When I enrolled for the ND pro- voltages. When you use the transformer in a lanterns in remote villages. Profit making was gramme, some of my friends tried to discour- stabiliser, it will enable it to generate output of age me. They thought I was foolish because 220 voltages.” not my primary motive.” With sadness in his voice, he told this most times I locked my shop to go to school. But like Oliver Twist, he wants more educa-
•Dieke, who constructed AC-powered table lantern, laments tion and training that would bring out the best in him. Although he is blessed with skills to conquer the electrical world, the young man thinks that little education could pose a major constraint. Hear him: “Yes, if I have more opportunities, I want to upgrade this to a rechargeable lantern. But the problem is that with only ND certificate, I am still not equipped for the kind of project I have in mind. I have many projects in mind, especially those ones that are not yet in existence. I need to be trained. When I look at what the white men produce, I get angry because within myself, I know I can do similar things. In fact, if I am eating and remember the many petty, petty things we are importing from China and other countries, I lose my appetite instantly. Why can’t we encourage our people to produce those things?” Dieke also advised the government to establish specialised schools that would run practically oriented programmes. Such programmes, he said, could be on mobile phone technology, electrical/electronics, tailoring school, among others. “The problem in this country is that most graduates only learn the theoritical aspect of their courses. They lack practical knowledge. I am not happy that some organisations spend so much money looking for talented youths in football, music and entertainment. Why can’t the government do similar things to allow youths to display their talents? We have many people with great skills but the sad story is that most of them lack opportunity to showcase their talents. We can do more than the Chinese but there is no encouragement. That is the problem”, he said. Although our leaders might never hear the voice of this young inventor, there is no denying the fact that neglected youths, like him, hold the key to a better Nigeria.
He has demystified science, lecturer says •Continued from Page 31 about challenges but with focus and determination, success will surely come.” “Some people around me thought this was not possible,” he added. “But this only made me determined to prove them wrong. The other challenges were normal in amateur rocketry as several trials were made and several failures recorded. But at last the design objective was obtained. I have dreams and tall ambitions. One of them is to be in space one day. I only pray that my dreams will get support both from government and well meaning individuals so that they will be actualized.” In a chat with Education Review, Alhassan, his project supervisor, said that, through his project, young Chijioke has demystified science. “The solid rocket propellant constructed by Idoko Chijioke, though an adaptation of an amateur astronomer experiments, is original. He fabricated the rocket from locally available materials from our environment. Whenever we hear of rockets, our minds by reflex action go to the technologically advanced world. Chijioke has demystified science by his effort. If he is properly motivated and equipped, he can break the ice in scientific world. There is hope for Nigeria ’s national transformation if we can support and fund scientific innovations like my student has done” he said.
Fuelless generating set, electric stove and other gadgets produced by students of the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) waiting for government support
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
CAMPUS SQUARE Where students report happenings on their campuses... with Sam Otti ( firstname.lastname@example.org/08038829740)
“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you” – Aldous Huxley
Why Nigerian students commit suicide By OLASUNKANMI AROWOLO
final year student of Business Administration at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Lagos, Ayodeji Balogun, hung himself few days after he was allegedly caught cheating in his final examination. His suicide note read: “what they said about me is not true in the school, but God knows better. Thanks, we will see at the end. I love you all.” There is no doubt that suicide ranks as the leading cause of death in the world, thereby making it a significant health problem. It is amazing that threats of suicide loom in higher institutions, where the future leaders are groomed. Recall the case of one Onyebuchi Nwankwo, a 300-level student of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), whose lifeless body was found dangling on a rope hung on the roof of an uncompleted building. He left a terse suicide note that read: “The controversy is over.” There was another pathetic case of Kehinde Akintunde, a 22-year old graduate of Federal University of Technology, Akure, (FUTA), who also committed suicide for controversial reason in an hotel at Apata, Ibadan, Oyo State on the 20th of August. He also left a note that reads: “This is the hardest thing for me to do…” According to report, “there are various reasons students take their own life. They range from depression, frustration, examination failures, unsuccessful academic ventures to betrayals.” Among the causes is wrong approach to correcting our young ones. For instance, a teenager in Islamabad feeling dejected after being scolded by his father, locked himself up in a room and shot himself in the head with his father’s pistol. Similarly, a 17-year-old student also poisoned himself after his father stopped him from spending time with his friends. Fear is also a cause of this unpleasant action. Many students are known to have killed themselves because of fear of present-
ing poor results their parents. Reports also indicate that students could commit suicide as a result of smear on their reputation. It could also be as a result of love gone sour, as the pain of losing a heart-throb could make instant death desirable for young people. That was the case of a 26 year-old graduate of University of Lagos (UNILAG), Motunrayo Ogbara, whose corpse was found hanging from a ceiling of her sister’s residence on Allen Avenue on July 18, 2011.
Report says she committed suicide following some jilting by her lover. Unguarded utterances can make young people to contemplate suicide, too. That was the case of 22-year-old Tobilola Ajihun, a university hopeful who passed her JAMB with 270 as her score. But she chose to end it all by poisoning herself when her longtime boyfriend, rejected her pregnancy. Report had it that Tobilola and her lover attended the same secondary school and, that their parents even knew, and probably approved, their relationship. They had
planned to get married in November of that year before things suddenly fell apart. The young lady was later found dead in her room with a suicide note which read: “Please I killed myself by taking rat poison because he rejected my pregnancy. I was sincere to him. I never double dated.” Further investigation showed that the boyfriend did not mean what he said but it was too late. •Arowolo is a 200-level student of Mass Communication, LASU
OAU: Brave student wins snake fight By ADEBAYO TAOFEEQ
t has now become a commonplace occurrence for students to battle with snakes in their halls of residence at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife. On Thursday, October 4, another strange
snake was killed in front of Block 7 of the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo Hall. Campus Square learnt that the snake had been lurking around the lawn in front of the block, where students usually hang their clothes before someone saw it and alerted other students. While some of the students ran away from
the scene for fear of the snake, a courageous student, Ogunniran Gideon, popularly known as ‘Ogidiolu’ grabbed a club and smashed the snake. As other students hailed him, they were surprised to discover that the snake looked strange, with a full-bodied lizard inside its stomach. However, as part of ‘Aro’ tradition of making expensive jokes out of situations, the students laid the snake on the pathway of the female block, where female students usually pass. Speaking on the incident, Mutairu Surajudeen, a 400-level student of English at the university, who resides in the block, strongly disagreed with the suggestion that the presence of the snake was as a result of overgrown lawns, by insisting that the lawns had always been properly mown. He therefore advised his fellow students to always be vigilant. “It was as a result of someone’s vigilance that the snake was discovered. Such a snake could have done harm to people,” he stressed. It would be recalled that such a scene had occurred before in the same hall and Adekunle Fajuyi Hall where a snake was found in a room. • Adebayo is a 400-level student of English, OAU
Student displaying the crushed snake
Mubi Massacre: Adamawa Peace Council calls for probe future violent attacks. The Council appealed for restraint from the damawa Peace Council (APC) has citizenry, especially those directly affected by called on the authorities to probe the the incident and urged Adamawa residents to violent attack in Mubi, Adamawa go about their normal activities. that left over 40 people dead. Gunmen, suspected to be members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect, attacked Federal Polytechnic Mubi and massacred several students, although the death toll has generated con- By JOSEPH DINWOKE flicting figures. close observation of many students Following the incident, the management of reveals that there are evident manifesinstitution announced the indefinite closure of tations of darkness in their lives. It the institution till further notice. In its reaction to the unfortunate incident, may not be their fault; yet the darkness is the council stated in a press statement widely there. They wish to make progress but cirulated in Yola that it is “deeply saddened by darkness is their obstacle. It makes them recent violent incidents in Mubi,” a distance unable to get their dreams on campus actuof approximately two hours of driving at alized, although they have what it takes to 100km/h. It specifically referred to the unwar- do so. They make effort to succeed but are ranted attack on students and civilians at the besieged by darkness; thus their efforts amounts to nothing. Mubi Federal Polytechnic. It makes intelligent students pass through the APC Chairman, Ahmed Joda said, “As promoters of peace and harmony in a region his- campus with nothing to show for all the time torically noted for tolerance and mutual coex- they spent while there. This darkness results in istence, these heinous acts will not be tolerat- students’ failure to take hold of opportunities ed. They are unacceptable to our peace-loving available to them. It has made many fail to make progress even when they can. community.” My friend, darkness has power! It makes one He sympathized with families and friends of the victims, pleading for increased vigi- a failure where success would have been his. In lance to checkmate the culprits and prevent our context, darkness typifies ignorance. You
By EBUKA UKOH WILLIAMS
Dr. Margee Ensign, President of the American University of Nigeria, Yola, who co-founded the APC early this year, said the group would expand its efforts to work with unemployed youths to initiate its peace cur-
riculum. •Williams is a 200 level student of Communications and Multimedia Studies, American University of Nigeria, Yola
Discovering winning ways on campus
may have recorded failure on campus or in your past academic pursuit; thus reasoned that someone is against you. Your reasoning may be wrong! Why? Many times, it’s not that someone is against you; it’s usually your ignorance of how to succeed including how to become secured from your foes. There is no one that doesn’t need light; even God ensured it was there before any other work of creation started. In the same vein, as a student on campus, you need light. You need illumination. It makes you aware of yourself not as a person but as a student on campus. You need illumination that will guide you in your walk through campus. A mother and educationist, Oluwatosin Popoola, led credence to this claim when she said, “Parents of this generation are more interested in the pursuit of money and career advancement which practically makes it impossible for them to be around to see to the
academic welfare of their children” Even when they have, they may not be aware of what’s obtainable in your time. At this point, I invite you for enlightenment; enlightenment that will make you successful on campus. I invite on a journey to great discoveries; discoveries that will enable you make the most of your stay on campus. One that will give you guide for surmounting the challenge that has injured many campus student. Please, note that you need particular information at every phase of your life to make progress; after campus, it’s labour market . . . Many times, students complain of mountains as their reason for not making progress. But are there really mountains on their way? David Oyedepo has an answer: “There is no mountain anywhere, every man‘s ignorance is his mountain!” •Dinwoke is 400-level Biochemistry, UNN
DAILY SUN Tuesday, October 16, 2012
CAMPUS SQUARE Where students report happenings on their campuses... with Sam Otti (email@example.com/08038829740)
“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think” — Socrates
Etisalat rewards 80 outstanding students T
elecomm company, Etisalat, recently awarded scholarship grants of N100,000 each to 80 outstanding undergraduates from the north under its Annual Merit Awards Scheme. The latest beneficiaries have brought, to over 700, the number of recipients , who have benefitted from this scheme in the four years of its existence. The event, which held at the Ladi Kwali Hall of Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, was part of the telecom’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) initiatives, designed for outstanding students of Electrical Electronics Engineering, Computer Science and Business Management courses in second and third years of study. The awardees emerged from the University of Abuja, Bayero University, Kano; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Benue State University, Makurdi; Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; Modibbo Adamu University, Yola, and Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Kebbi. Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Steven Evans, described education as a powerful tool for change needed to facilitate the economic advancement of any nation. According to him, dynamic economies that have emerged in the last 50 years rode on the back of heavy investment in education. Mr. Evans said that the Merit Awards scheme was developed to offer the best students in partner institutions a grant towards the successful completion of their courses of study by taking care of their financial burden and enabling them to concentrate on their studies and achieve excellence. “The essence of the Merit Award Scheme is that we award scholarship grants of N100,000 each to 10 best second year and third year students in three important courses namely; Electrical/Electronic Engineering, Computer
Science and Management from each university,” he said. In addition, the partner universities each also receive a direct grant towards the upgrade of their educational facilities and procurement of educational materials. He commended the students for their laudable performances that have brought them this
far and expressed the belief that these meritorious scholarship grants would propel them to accomplish even better scholarly success. He encouraged them to work hard and to be diligent in their studies. Speaking on his award, Roland Tianogo, a student of Benue State University, Makurdi and a recipient of the award in 2011 expressed joy
Falae explains SAP support at OAU By TAOFEEQ ADEBAYO and NURUDEEN LAWAL
Prof Salami presenting the award to Falae
ormer Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Samuel Oluyemisi Falae, popularly called Olu Falae, has explained the reason why he supported the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) during Babangida regime. He disclosed this during the Faculty Guest Lecture Series, organised by the Faculty of Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, recently at First Bank Lecture Theatre, OAU. Though the title of the lecture, ‘Nigeria and the Challenges of Nation Building’ did not really border on the issue of SAP, Falae explained his stance on the programme due to the critical reference made to it by the anchor of the programme, Dr Chijioke Uwasomba and the chairman of the occasion, Prof. Idowu J. Awopetu before addressing the main topic. Chief Falae, then popularly called Mr. SAP, said he entertained questions about SAP wherever he was invited to deliver speech. He noted that he did not initiate the programme, since it was inaugurated six or seven weeks after he was appointed secretary to the Government of the Federation on January 29, 1986. Nevertheless, he supported the programme
because of its beautiful objectives. According to him, “The objective of SAP was to remove the tyranny of bureaucracy, to enhance sufficiency in production and to correct past mistakes and errors by checkmating the excess of the marketing board.” He explained that part of the programme that caused controversy was the problem of the exchange rate, a problem, which he attributed to the failure of the Central Bank of Nigeria. “Incompetence and corruption were responsible for SAP failure,” he said. Speaking on the main theme of the lecture,
FG scores YABATECH high on TVET By OLUWASEUN ADEWORAN
he federal government has rated Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) high among the 51 polytechnics that benefited from the recently supplied Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) equipment in the areas of usage, maintenance and management. The commendation was made during the visit of the Department of Policy Implementation and Monitoring of Government Decision (PIMGD) in the Presidency on the supplied TVET equipment to 51 polytechnics in Nigeria, tagged: Skill G Project to the college to monitor the state of the equipment. In his address, the representative of the Minister of Education, Mr. Ali Danjuma, noted that judging from the technical structure and general perspective, YABATECH stood among the 60 polytechnics in terms of taking good care of the equipment, commitment, using the college visions to maximise the use of the equipment and
at receiving the award again this year, describing it as one of the greatest things that has happened to him. He thanked Etisalat for the gesture, saying this has indeed shown that it is a brand that is not only youth-oriented, but also one that is concerned about the future of the country. He plans to use the grant to further his research work.
meeting the needs of the community. He emphasised the need to integrate the artisans and other vocations in the art of training to further enhance the full utilisation of the equipment and improve the lots of the students, staff and the industries. The Rector, Yaba College of Technology, Dr. Margaret Kudirat Ladipo, applauded the federal government, Minister of Education, National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and TETFUND for their roles in the development of education in the country, especially with the supply of the TVET equipment. The supplied TVET equipment, she said, would provide a balanced complement of equipment in the college in line with the NBTE accreditation requirements. She stated further that the equipment would enhance the training of lecturers, technologists and technicians on the installation, maintenance and use of the equipment as it will aid hands-on training and provide worthwhile experience for students.
‘With the ongoing quest for technological advancement in the nation, the equipment place our institution on the right pedestal for meaningful contribution. From refrigeration and air-conditioning to autotronics and mechatronics, the impact of our products will hopefully be felt across the nation and beyond’; said the Rector. She added that renewable /alternative energy is the emrging trend in the world and with the equipment supplied the college is equipped for wind and solar to effectively participate and generate designs that will be environment friendly and commercially viable. Dr. Ladipo emphasised that harmonising the equipment with the functions of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development in the College will enable the college to turn out industry-relevant graduates. Adeworan is a 300-level students of Mass Comm, Oduduwa University, presently doing his Industrial Training with The Sun Publishing Ltd
Falae blamed the constitution and poor leadership as the key problems threatening the nation’s socio-economic development. According to him, Nigeria is yet to witness the emergence of real ‘passionately committed’ leaders since the exit of nationalists like Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He advocated constitutional amendment through a National Conference, whereby every ethnic group in the country, no matter their population, will be adequately represented. He said that a true constitutional advancement cannot be achieved in a National Assembly where majority of the minor ethnic groups in the country are absolutely absent. Chief Falae also noted that decentralisation was crucial if the nation must progress. According to him, ‘Nigeria must return to a true federation of regions, the number to be determined through negotiation at the conference. In composing the regions, every state and ethnic community must be allowed to decide democratically on the region to which it wishes to belong. There must be no coercion or arbitrariness in the exercise.” He stressed that every tier of government must be enabled to function as a government by having the constitutional rights to make laws and enforce them through their own law-enforcement agencies. In his closing remark, the chairman of the occasion, Prof Awopetu called for an intellectual but non-violent student unionism, which would serve as a platform for raising political problems and providing ways out. The highlight of the occasion was the conferment of award of excellence on Falae by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Prof L.O Salami, on behalf of the entire staff and students of the faculty. •Adebayo and Lawal are 400-level students of English, OAU
CONTRIBUTORS THIS WEEK
•Seun •Ebuka •Dinwoke •EDITOR’S NOTE: We welcome reports of happenings on your campus. Send them to the above e-mail address, accompanied by your name and recent photograph, and photographs of personalities/ event you are reporting.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
FOCUS/Education Review “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid” – Albert Einstein
John Gurdon’s message to all parents:
‘Don’t give up yet on that your academically dull child’ The co-winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine, was once dismissed by his teacher as a ‘never-do-well’ in the sciences By CHIKA ABANOBI
ast week Monday, Sir, John Gurdon, 79, emerged the co-winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine for his 1962 groundbreaking discovery that “mature, specialized cells of the body can be reprogrammed into stem cells” — a discovery that scientists hope to turn into new treatments. They hope to harness the reprogramming to create replacement tissues for treating diseases like Parkinson’s and for studying the roots of diseases in the laboratory, it is said. The $1.2 million prize is one he will share with Japanese Shinya Yamanaka, who is said to have improved on the findings of Gurdon by engaging in more enlightening research on that area. Interestingly, Yamanaka, was born in 1962, the same year that Gurdon made his discovery by using specialized cells of frogs, actually their intestinal cells, to generate new tadpoles and, by that, show that DNA could drive the formation of all cells in the body. In 2006, about 40 years later, Dr. Yamanaka built on that and went further. He was able to turn mature cells back into their earliest form as primitive cells. These cells are in many ways the equivalent of embryonic stem cells, because they have the potential to develop into specialized cells for heart, liver and other organs. “The discoveries of Gurdon and Yamanaka have shown that specialized cells can turn back the developmental clock under certain circumstances,” the Nobel Prize committee said. “These discoveries have also provided new tools for scientists around the world and led to remarkable progress in many areas of medicine.” Of course, Gurdon is not the first to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine/Physiology; in fact, he and Yamanaka are the 101st since the prize was established in 1901. But his is a remarkable win in that, of all the past winners or co-winners, he is, perhaps, the only one that no one ever gave a chance of making it in the sciences. Even if others did, not his Biology teacher at Eton College, Windsor, Berkshire, United Kingdom, where he had his college education, who once wrote in his midterm report card, in
•Gurdon 1949: “It has been a disastrous half (that is, midterm). His work has been far from satisfactory. His prepared stuff has been badly learnt, and several of his test pieces have been torn over; one of such pieces of prepared work scored 2 marks out of a possible 50. “His other work has been equally bad, and several times he has been in trouble, because he will not listen, but will insist on doing his work in his own way. I believe he has ideas about becoming a scientist, on his present showing this is quite ridiculous, if he can’t learn simple biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be share waste of time, both on his part, and of those who have to teach him.” There was no doubt that other teachers must have felt the same way too, even if they were not so acerbic in their remarks. The fact that Gurdon, out of the 250 boys in his year group, always came last not only in Biology but also in other science subjects must have promoted many a teacher to dismiss him as a never-dowell, just like his Biology did.
Not surprising, owing to the low rating, before long Gurdon also began to see himself as a great failure in life. He said that much at a news conference held in London, last week, on his co-winning of the Nobel Prize. “It was a completely ridiculous idea because there was no hope whatever of my doing science,” he said, “and any time spent on it would be a total waste of time, both on my part and the part of the person having to teach me. So that terminated completely my science at school.” In fact, he was so affected that he had the report card framed and kept to remind him, he said, that science is a no-go area for him. Asked why he did so, he told reporters: “When you have problems like an experiment doesn’t work, which often happens, it’s nice to remind yourself that perhaps after all you are not so good at this job and the schoolmaster may have been right.” To show you the extent to which Gurdon was dispirited, he opted to read Classics at the Oxford University, much against his inner pull towards the sciences. But halfway through the
‘Who knows tomorrow?’ – Prince Nico Mbarga Others who were dismissed as dunces by either their teachers, parents, fellow students or acquaintances, but who ended up surprising the world: lbert Einstein: Generally considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century, he was said to be so slow-witted as to make one teacher allegedly say: “It doesn’t matter what he does, he will never amount to anything.” Winston Churchill: Britain’s greatest statesman, he was regarded as a “mediocre student,” prompting one of his tutors to once
observe: “The lad couldn’t have gone through Harrow School, he must have gone under it.” Isaac Newton: Regarded as the greatest and the most influential scientist who ever lived, he was said to be very poor in Math, and only began to do well in it when his uncle took over his education. Robert Goddard: Mocked and ridiculed by the entire scientific community of his time
for his “weird” and “unworkable” scientific ideas, he ended up becoming the Father of modern rocket propulsion. Billy Graham: One of the world’s most influential religious evangelists, he was said to be a slow learner in class, his teacher once said he would “never worth anything in life.” Charles Darwin: Was once dismissed by his teacher as “a very ordinary boy, below the common standards of intellect.”
course, he suddenly switched over to Zoology. That switch, as it were, marked a turning point in his life and career. It also marked the end of his teacher’s ‘prophecy’ as he came to take his destiny into his hands. At the end of the course, he made a good grade, to his utmost surprise. This encouraged him to go for his Masters and PhD. For his D.Phil. he was said to have studied nuclear transplantation in the frog Xenopus with Michael Fischberg at Oxford. Following postdoctoral work at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), he returned to England and worked in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, from 1962 to 1971. Thereafter, he was to spend much of his research career at the University of Cambridge, UK, first at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (1971–83) and again at the Department of Zoology, (1983–1989). In 1989, he was a founding member of the Wellcome/CRC Institute for Cell Biology and Cancer (later Wellcome/CR UK) in Cambridge, and was its Chair until 2001. He was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics 1991-1995, and Master of Magdalene College (a Professor of Cell Biology), Cambridge from 1995 to 2002. He is currently at the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, which he founded. Yamanaka who showed that a surprisingly simple recipe could turn mature cells back into primitive cells, which in turn could be prodded into different kinds of mature cells, once worked at the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco, U.S.A. But today he works at Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Kyoto University, Japan. So? In layman’s language, what is all these talks about “specialized” “mature” and “primitive” cells? In other words, what did Gurdon and Yamanaka discover? Dr. David Scadden, codirector of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and a professor at the Harvard Medical School, explains. Until the landmark scientific discoveries by Gurdon and Yamanaka, he said, “cells were viewed much the same way we view our own lives, that there’s a trajectory where we go from a person of great potential but of unclear specialty, become more and more differentiated as time goes on, making particular choices. “And it was thought that stem cells had the same kind of pathway, if you will, that as cells started out, they could become any cell of the body, but gradually they became progressively more specialized. And it was thought that was basically a one-way street, that if you were a skin cell, you would always be a skin cell and you could never become anything else. “What Gurdon showed and then subsequently Yamanaka showed is that that’s not the case. It’s not just in one direction, that there actually is the ability to reverse course and go all the way back to becoming the most primitive of cells, even if you start with something that is as mature as one of the cells from any one of us. “DNA had been recognized as being the stuff that was the code of life and of what cells could become. But it wasn’t clear if DNA was stable. So, as the cell became more specialized, did its genes change? Did they become different than they were in the earliest stage of, say, the fertilized egg? And so what Gurdon did was, he asked the question, by moving the DNAthat’s in a nucleus from a mature cell into the cytoplasm of an egg, and he showed that that nucleus could actually go back, could be reprogrammed so that it could become a — just like a fertilized egg, it could become any cell type.”
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Education Review/NEWS “Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself” — Chinese Proverb
Echoes of the World Teachers’ Day:
By GABRIEL DIKE
he Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has charged the Federal Government to always consider teachers in its nominee list for the prestigious annual National Merit Awards, even as it urged both the Federal and state governments to provide better welfare packages for its members. These demands were made at the 2012 World Teachers Day held nationwide. Speaking during the ceremony in a talk titled: “Take a stand for teachers,’ the National President, Comrade Michael Olukoya and various state wings of the body, urged all levels of governments to take matters concerning NUT and its members seriously. In his speech, Olukoya noted that this year’s theme comes as a clarion call on individuals, institutions, industries as well as the federal and state governments to rise up and uplift the status of teachers. He wondered why the federal and state governments have allowed the 27.5 per cent Teachers Special Allowance scheme to remain in limbo, four years after the agreement was signed between the union and state governments in 2008. Olukoya also wondered aloud why successive governments at the federal level have not thought it wise to nominate or recognize teachers with outstanding records for the annual National Merit Awards. “It is annoying that no single teacher has ever been found worthy to be bestowed with the country’s most prestigious national award in a ritual that takes place almost every year. Little wonder some uninformed Nigerians look at the teaching profession with utmost disdain.” He called on Nigerians to identify with teachers as NUT gets set to tackle some issues affecting the body and its members. Some of the issues, according to him, include implementation of professional Teachers Salary Structure (TSS); establishment of Federal Teachers Service Commission (FTSC); payment of honorarium for MDGs workshop to teachers who participated in the 2011 NTI training; removal of the ceiling imposed on university graduates in primary schools as well as casual teachers in Unity Schools. Other issues NUT wants the Federal Government to pay urgent attention to are extension of retirement age of teachers in primary and post-primary schools, from 60 years to 65; establishment of National Secondary Education Commission, and evolvement of drastic measures in fixing dilapidated infrastructures in public schools and quick intervention in Plateau State where primary schools teachers have been on strike in the past six
NUT tasks FG on national merit awards, welfare package …As Lagos wing honours Kollington, AIT, others months. All the same, Olukoya appreciated the sustained interest of government in instituting the Presidential Teachers and Schools Awards as part of the World Teachers Day celebration noting that “the union and Nigerian teachers are, however, worried by the decline in value and quality of gift presented to deserving teachers and schools in recent times.” In Lagos, the chairman of the state NUT, Comrade Samson Idowu, urged all levels of governments in the country to address the debilitating challenges facing the education sector and take decisive step towards improving teachers’ welfare. He acknowledged the massive construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure in Lagos schools but pointed out that the role of well-motivated teachers was indispensable to the effective management of students. He demanded for a corresponding financial rewards as well as dignity similar to their counterparts in other ministries and agencies. In Lagos, the state wing used the occasion to honour 17 prominent Nigerians, educationists and two corporate bodies. Among them were the Fuji maestro, Alhaji Ayinla Kollington, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, House of Representative member, Hon. Toyin Suara, Lagos State Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, Sir Adebukola Adebutu, Hon. Abayomi Ayeola, Alhaji Jubril Abdulkareem, SUBEB chairman, Alhaja Gbolahan Dawodu. It also gave awards to corporate bodies like African Independent Television (AIT) and First City Monument
L-R, Chairman of NUT, Lagos State wing, Comrade Idowu, Tutor General Permanent Secretary, Education District V, Mrs. Modupe Iji, and, Mrs. Oladunjoye at 2012 World Teachers’ Day celebration. Bank. Retired teachers and principals were also bestowed with various awards. They include Ibitoye Ibikunle, Mrs. Oluwayemisi Abosede, Otunba Yobami Obajinmi, Mrs. Lydia Olagbaiye, Mrs. B.M. Ayoade, Mrs. Olanrewaju Adefunke, Mrs. Adeyeye Dorcas, and Mr. M.A. Okunowo.
Essay/quiz competition: Delta pharmacists reward students From PAUL OSUYI, Asaba
he Delta State branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has rewarded winners of its Senior Secondary School Students’ Essay/Quiz Competition as part of activities marking the 2012 World Pharmacy Week. About 30
The new Chike Obi?
Girl, 11, makes best result, scores 100% in Mathematics By VERA WISDOM-BASSEY
iss Anita Odigie, 11-year-old Primary Six pupil of JolBak Nursery and Primary School, Ajegunle, Lagos, has surprised her teachers by scoring 100 per cent in Mathematics and emerging the best among the girls in her school. Speaking on the development, the Proprietor of the School, Mr.Morufu Ayinde Bakare, revealed that the academic feat has earned her an automatic admission into Oshodi Secondary School, Lagos. The pupil, according to Bakare, did well in English and verbal tests by scoring 60 over 60 in English without “making any mistakes, not even in the dotting of her i’s and crossing of her T’s.” He added that, “the school does not compromise standard.” “It is for this reason that parents entrust their children in our care,” he said. “In the past seven years, our pupils have turned out good results owing to the efforts of qualified teachers in our
The Fuji musician, Alhaja Kollington, who was honoured for waxing an evergreen album for teachers in the 1980s, was the star attraction during the award as NUT members could not cease applauding him during his entrance into the hall and also while on the stage to receive the award.
employ. We do train our teachers and this assists them to get exposed to standard way of doing things in the education world.” He added that the school participates in annual seminars organized by Lantern, Macmillan and other notable book publishers. “We complement this with in-house training where we invite resource persons to talk to our teachers.” According to him, although Ajegunle is known for notoriety, it has produced good brains like Jay Jay Okocha, Papa Fryo, and former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Adebisi Sosan. But Anita Odigie, the girl in question, wants to become a professor of banking and finance. “Being a genius in her academics, her parents welcomes her desire to go into banking, and she has opted to study Banking and Finance at University of Lagos (UNILAG),” Bakare told Education Review. “She said she would want to be known as a performing student and a good girl.”
entries were received from students of secondary schools across the state on the essay topic: “The Pharmacists and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”, before the number was initially pruned down to 20. Further pruning was to reduce it to 10 after a written test conducted by the education subcommittee of the 2012 PSN week planning committee. It was these 10 finalists that participated in the quiz competition to produce the eventual winners. Deborah Afamefuna of Technical High School, DSC Ovwian-Aladja emerged the winner with 12 points while Ebube Nwaebuni of Demonstration Secondary School (FCE), Asaba scored 11 points to clinch the second position. The third and fourth positions were won by Nancy Ben and Daniela Olawashi respectively both of the Federal Government College, Ibusa. The four star winners were presented with prizes of one laptop, one carton of Mimee noodles each and cash gifts while consolation prizes were presented to the students who came fifth to 10th positions. The prizes were said to had been donated by Dr. Olumide Akintayo of May and Baker Pharmaceutical Company. According to the state chairman of the PSN, Mrs. Grace Ese Ekhuemelo, the purpose of the competition was to carry secondary school students along in the campaign against illicit use of drugs. “PSN’s choice of secondary schools students as target was premised on the fact that they (students) must be carried along in the fight against illicit drugs. It is also about the students making informed choices as to where and who to seek answers from regarding drug matters. This essay competition has exposed the students to research work on MDGs and role of pharmacists in the actualization of the MDGs,” she said. She stated that the society was making the students, advocates of safe medicine practice and positive influence on their peer groups, adding that the competition would be sustained to get future generation adequately equipped with the right information on safe use of drugs.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 DAILY SUN
NEWS/Education Review “Education costs money, but then so does ignorance” — Sir Claus Moser By SAM OTTI
non–governmental organization, Daniel Ogechi Akujobi Memorial Foundation, (DOAMF), in collaboration with Western Union, has empowered over 1500 pupils in Lagos State with educational materials that will boost their academic performance. Pupils of Ireti Primary School and Hope Primary School, both located on 4 Mekunwen Road, Ikoyi, as well as those in Estate Primary School- 200/201 Mushin Road, Isolo and 5th Avenue Primary School, Festac, all in Lagos, were among beneficiaries. Teachers in the schools were not forgotten, as the foundation gave them new branded bags. The Programme Manager, DOAM Foundation, Mrs. Clare Henshaw, who led the team on two-day mentoring programme for the schools, said the foundation was founded in 2006, in memory of Master Daniel Ogechi Akujobi, a 13-year-old boy who lost his life in a fatal accident, on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, on his way back to school. He was the only son of his parents. His mother, Mrs. Sotonye Akujobi, who is also a trustee of the DOAM Foundation, was among the team that distributed the materials to the children. Speaking at the occasion, Henshaw said the foundation introduced the ‘Back to School’ programme, to provide educational support to indigent pupils in public primary schools, to boost their desire for academic success at the beginning of every new academic session. According to her, visitations to schools afforded the foundation the opportunity to identify and reward intelligent pupils by offering scholarships to them, in addition to other incentives. “In Lagos State, aside those that have graduated, we have 20 of them on our scholarship programme. The beneficiaries cut across primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. In Imo State, we have 35 of them, as well as in other states of the federation. We have four northerners on our scholarship programme as
•Pupils of Hope Primary School displaying their bags
DOAM Foundation, brings hope to the hopeless as Western Union kit 1500 pupils in Lagos well”, she noted. She commended Western Union for partnering with DOAM foundation to retool the school children and called on other corporate organizations and philanthropists to imitate their gesture for the good of the society. According to her, Western Union sponsored the Back-to-School programme at the cost of $15,000 (US Dollars). Despite the free education policy in Lagos State, Henshaw said investigations conducted by her team revealed that an increasing number of pupils in public schools are poorly
equipped. According to her, majority of them do not have school bags, sandals or writing materials. “Some of them are orphans or come from homes where parents are out of job. Some of them are vulnerable because their parents do not have a steady source of livelihood,” she said. On the selection of schools in choice places like Ikoyi and Festac, instead of those in urban slums like Ajegunle or Makoko, she said: “The misconception people have is that, there are no poor schools in Ikoyi. I can tell you
BRACED braces up for education summit By GABRIEL DIKE
ollowing the success recorded in their past economic summits, governors of the BRACED states (an acronym for Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta States of the South–South region), have set their eyes on improving the quality of education in the zone. To this end, the governors, through its secretariat known as the BRACED Commission, have concluded plans to hold an education summit in Port Harcourt, Rivers State between November 15 and 17, 2012. According to the Director-General, Ambassador Joe Keshi, the summit is to provide the six BRACED states with a forum to address the state of education in the region with a view to fashioning out ways to improve the quality, learning environment and the overall wellbeing of the various stakeholders in the education process, especially the teachers and students. He disclosed that the summit is coming at a time when there is a general drop in the standard of education in the country. Even more instructive is the fact that the SouthSouth geo-political zone which comparatively is among the regions with a good record in education performance in the country is spearheading an education summit which would focus mainly on how to improve standards. Keshi explained that the summit was expected to review the state of education in the region through exchange of ideas and innovations with the ultimate goal
of improving and strengthening education among the students. He argued that with quality education, the BRACED states can engineer the right social transformation, ensure steady growth and development and at the same time contribute effectively to Nigeria’s economic growth and stability. He said that the summit would help the governors, school administrators and other stakeholders to compare notes and seek ways of breathing fresh life into this all-important sector. “The conference will therefore review the state of basic, secondary and technical vocational education, higher education, teachers’ education and training of teachers, in addition to reviewing the standard of science and technology education,” he said. This year’s education summit comes as a sequel to two successful economic summits held in the past by the commission. All the governors of the BRACED states; the Ministers of Education, Science and Technology; Commissioners of Education of
the BRACED states and their permanent secretaries; vice chancellors of all the universities in the region, Provosts of Colleges of Education and Rectors of Polytechnics, Deans of Faculties of Education of universities in the region; Principals of colleges and Headmasters of primary schools, Teachers Associations, Chairmen of States Universal Basic Education Commission (SUBEC), etc. are expected to attend.
there are a lot of poor schools around this community. Aside the fact that Western Union also had some criteria for selecting benefiting schools, we generally look out for public schools. We did our research and found out that lots of pupils in these schools are from poor families.” The Headmistress, Ireti Primary School, Elizabeth Adenola, said the distribution of the materials would encourage regular attendance to school by the pupils and also prompt unwilling parents to enroll their children in public schools. The Education Secretary, Eti-Osa Local Government Education Authority, Taiwo Lanre Lukmon, described the initiative as a ‘marvelous feat’ and urged other groups and philanthropists to partner with the state government to provide quality education to children. While commending the state government, the Secretary further appealed to corporate organizations and individuals to provide the school with computers and to improve the school library and other needful facilities. “They are giving something back to the community. It is a very good development and the children would benefit a lot”, he said.
Africa Leadership magazine honours American University of Nigeria as ‘Africa’s leading university’
he United Kingdom’s Africa Leadership magazine has honoured The American University of Nigeria (AUN) by tagging it “Africa’s leading university.” This honour came at the African Investments and Development Awards ceremony held recently at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. “We are pleased to recognize AUN’s enormous contributions to Africa’s educational emancipation, economic growth and development, as the leading and advanced institution in the country. The board noted with interest the AUN’s unparalleled commitment to excellence and best practices, investing millions of dollars in research and development to adequately equip its students for the future,” said Ken Giami, Africa Leadership’s Editor-inChief. Responding, President Margee Ensign said: “We are honoured to receive this award.” “Our mission as Africa’s first development university is to foster the creation of new leaders committed to sustaining a democracy in
which diverse people share in the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Service learning is central to our identity. All of our students must successfully undertake development courses in order to graduate, no matter what their major is.” This is the second time AUN has received an award from the London-based publication. In 2011, President Ensign was honoured with Africa Leadership Award for Educational Excellence. Africa Leadership is a pan-African publication read by international investors, business executives, government policymakers and multilateral agencies across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the US. Each year the magazine honours select members of Africa’s investment community, development partners, and various groups and associations that contribute to Africa’s economic growth. The American University of Nigeria, a private, co-educational university, was established in 2003. It is located in the Yola-Jimeta metropolis, capital of Adamawa State.
DAILY SUN Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Education Review/NEWS “If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people” – Confucius, Chinese philosopher (BC 551-BC 479)
‘You’re not doing teachers a favour by employing them’
Ogbuagu charges FG to revive Nigeria’s education standard
By EBERE EGEKWU
From EMMANUEL OGOIGBE, WARRI
former education commissioner in Delta State, Dr. (Mrs.) Veronica Ogbuagu, has raised the alarm over the deteriorating standard of education in the country and urged the Federal Government to take urgent step to arrest the situation. According to her, a recent survey revealed that Nigeria’s position in the ranking of one hundred top African universities showed that only five out of the one hundred and five Nigerian universities made the list. Disclosing this fact in an interview with Education Review, she lamented that Nigeria’s best in Africa was University of Lagos, which clinched the 57th position in the ranking. Wondering what would have made the country to slide to such a ridiculous level, Ogbuagu said: “This is not good for a nation that considers itself the giant of Africa. It really shows that the standard of our education has dropped. I mean if our universities cannot be ranked in the top 10 of African universities, then we have cause to worry and the best thing is for government to put up measures that will reverse the ugly trend.” Ogbuagu, who is the Proprietress of Chinkelly Group of Schools, Warri, lamented that at 52, Nigeria is still grappling with basic issues required for effective and efficient education at all levels. She described as an eyesore the condition of learning environment especially in the universities and other tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
From Olapeju, Principal, Kings College, Lagos, to govt.:
he Director and Principal of Kings College (KC), Lagos, Otumba Dele Olapeju has urged the Federal Civil Service Commission to make the recruitment of quality teachers an essential annual policy to enhance leadership succession in the Unity Colleges. He made this known during the 2012 World Teachers Day celebrated at the school’s premises in Lagos recently. “We are asking the Federal Government to always ensure that experienced teachers are posted to schools in order to enhance leadership succession especially in Unity Schools. This is to ensure that we keep the flag flying’, he enthused. OlapejuåΩ added that “we are proud to proclaim it to high heavens that teachers are generally well-trained professionals, so, granting us employment must not be seen as a political patronage by the government.” He expressed happiness over the successful conduct of the celebration which he described as a memorable one especially with the presence of its sister Unity Colleges at the occasion as well as members of the Lagos First Generation Colleges Association (LAFGECA) who came to identify with teachers. The event was used to recognize and appreciate many teachers and departmental heads. They were presented with various gifts, including cash. Olapeju commended the efforts of teachers and advised them to continue with their good jobs. He said: “In KC, we have chosen retooling
•Otumba Olapeju for excellence as sub-theme. We need to ensure that all our teachers meet the challenges of the 21st Century classroom.” He added that the only way to restore the low esteem of teachers is through self-promotion, self-development and self-motivation even as he acknowledged the efforts of the
Ministers of Education in matching their words with action through the recruitment and posting of teachers to the college. After the event, he told reporters that the college partnered with corporate bodies like Total, Chevron, CHISCO, GTB and others to execute several projects in the college.
Promasidor sets to send journalists to Lagos Business School J ournalists in the country have started sending in entries for the Promasidor Quill Awards, which was launched by Promasidor Nigeria Limited; makers of Cowbell milk earlier in the year. Winners in each category of the competition will get an opportunity to do a course at Lagos Business School (LBS), a high-end laptop, a high-end camera for the photojournalist, and all Promasidor products. Senior officials of the company confirmed in Lagos that they have received several entries on the dedicated website for the awards from many journalists across the country. The Promasidor Quill Awards covers five categories: Brand Advocate of the Year, Best CSR Report of the year, Most Educative Report of the year, Best Report on Nutrition and the Best Photo Story of the Year. These categories had been carefully thoughtout to accommodate most journalists in the country. Unlike other awards, entry for the ‘Promasidor Quill Awards’ is being done on an e-platform. That is, it is strictly by the internet so as to avoid difficulties usually experienced in submitting entries. This will give interested participants equal opportunity to participate in the awards and also there will be no case of lost entries as each participant will receive an immediate response after submitting his or her entry. Mr. Andrew Enahoro, Head, Legal and PR, Promasidor Nigeria Limited had, at a press conference in Lagos, recently, declared that jour-
nalists could now send in their entries for the competition through its website. He said the panel of judges would consist of a representative from Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), an academia and a veteran journalist. In the same vein, Mr. Ayodele Oguntubi, Coordinator Corporate Affairs, Promasidor Nigeria said journalists were entitled to one entry per category. “Interested journalists can only submit one entry per category, except the Brand Advocate category where we will do the collation ourselves with the help of our agency. It will be required that a scanned copy of the story in print and a microsoft word copy of the story be sub-
mitted for legibility,” Oguntubi said. The Promasidor Quill Awards is a platform in Nigeria to reward journalists for dedicated news reportage on industry, education, and corporate social responsibility and nutrition issues all year round. These awards will be an annual event that would add more depth and reward reporting excellence. It was launched at the Promasidor Media Brand Academy in March, 2012. Promasidor Nigeria Limited was incorporated in Nigeria in 1993 to manufacture, package, market and distribute fast-moving consumer products. Since inception, it has been offering quality and affordable products to its consumers.
Obadimu becomes 12th Principal of Abeokuta Grammar School
t was an honour well-deserved as Olusegun Obadimu was appointed the 12th Principal of Abeokuta Grammar School. Obadimu, an old boy of the school (1974 set) also graduated from the University of Ibadan in Language Communication Arts (1983). Before this appointment, he was, at various times, Principal, Ago-Iwoye Secondary School and Igbore High School, Abeokuta. He also served as a Senior Tutor at St Leo’s
Teachers Training College, Abeokuta. An acknowledged poet and playwright, he is currently a Chief Examiner in English Language at the National Teachers’ Institute, Kaduna, as well as Chief Examiner in Literature in English for the West African Examination Council (WAEC). He is also Chairman, Egba Provincial Council, Boys Scouts of Nigeria and President, Anglican Youth Fellowship, Abeokuta North Archdeaconry Council, Egba Diocese. He is married with children.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 DAILY SUN
INTERVIEW/Education Review “I am not a teacher, but an awakener” – Robert Frost, American poet (1875-1963)
Revelations from Dr. Aliyu Mamman, The Rector, Kaduna Polytechnic:
‘What I’m doing to return education to the old standard’ FROM ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE, Kaduna
fter a long period of face-off between the management and the academic staff union of Kaduna Polytechnic, which led to the dissolution of the long standing management team of the institution and the appointment of Engineer Aminu Aliyu from Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi as Acting Rector for a period of six months, normalcy seemed to have returned to the polytechnic, following the appointment of a seasoned administrator and former Director of the institution’s College of Business and Management Studies (CBMS), Dr. Aliyu Mamman as the transitional Acting Rector in January 2012. In this interview with Education Review, Dr. Mamman who is also the substantive Deputy Rector of the polytechnic tells Education Review how he has managed the relationship between the management and various interest unions within the polytechnic community and what he is doing to return education to its lost glory, among other issues. Excerpt: WHO IS DR. ALIYU MAMMAN? AND, MAY WE KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT HIS CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND? I was born in a village known as Kagarku in Sandamu Local Government of Katsina State and I did my primary school education in that village. I was enrolled into Government College, Katsina, in 1978 and completed my studies there in 1983. Thereafter, I got admission into the then College of Advanced Studies, Zaria between 1983 and 1985. Then in 1985, I proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University for my first degree and graduated in 1988 with a Bachelors degree in Economics. I did my NYSC in Niger State between 1988 and 1989, after which, I started working with Hassan Usman Katsina Polytechnic. In 1990, I joined the services of Kaduna Polytechnic as Lecturer III. And since that time, I have been working in this polytechnic, but sometimes in 1996, I went for my Masters degree at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, came back and worked until 2001 when I went for my PhD at Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto. It was when I came back in 2004 that I was appointed the Head of Department for Business Administration. This was followed with my appointment as Director, College of Business and Management Studies, in 2008, and Deputy Rector, in January 2012. I was also asked to oversee the affairs of the institution as Acting Rector pending the appointment of a substantive Rector. So, that is where I am now. COMPARE THE STANDARD OF EDUCATION IN YOUR SCHOOL DAYS WITH WHAT OBTAINS TODAY. WHERE DID WE MISS IT AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING AS AN INDIVIDUAL OR MEMBER OF THE SCHOOL MANAGEMENT TO RETURN THE STANDARD TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS? Well, we can say that, during our own time in primary and secondary school, and even tertiary institution, the level of seriousness on the part of the students is not comparable with what is obtainable now. That time, you would see students being very serious with their studies because there was no room for any kind of malpractice. So, everybody was up-and-
•Dr. Mamman doing, because everyone knew they were on their own. On the part of teachers, they tried not to compromise standards by whatever means be it gratification, gift or whatever. So, they too were more committed, more serious. Even on the part of the supervisory agencies, you discover that, from time to time, you would see inspectors, even at primary school level going round to make sure that teachers were doing their jobs. Even at secondary school level, you would see the Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Education doing that type of work. And at tertiary level, the inspection was even more rigorous. So, those are some of the areas where when you compare with what we are witnessing now, you will see that there are rooms for improvement. Not that what we have today is extremely bad. So, supervision matters a lot. And that is what I am working very hard to intensify here. We are taking that from departmental level, to the college level and even to the central level here. This is not to say that, we have a set of staff who would not do their work without supervision. Supervision itself is a motivational tool. When someone sees you go round from time to time, he will really appreciate that somebody cares for what he is doing. On the part of the students, I always encourage them at every available fora to be very serious with their studies and to shun all forms of malpractices and other vices capable of distracting them from their studies. And on the part of the management, we make use of the little resources at our disposal to improve on the learning atmosphere. Any form of requirements to improve on our learning capabilities is never neglected, to the best of our ability. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE ON THIS JOB AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME? As you are aware, the institution was indeed bedeviled with some challenges, especially with the management/staff relationship, and immediately I assumed office, even though the system has stabilized a bit, I knew that major challenge was further stabilization that has to do with the involvement and engagement of all the stakeholders in the institution. So far so good, all that we are doing is
to try to involve all categories of stakeholders especially the unions that we have. We engage them in dialogue and discussion and in fact, we understand ourselves very well. When I came on board, just to have a focus or what you might call a line of action, I proposed a plan within what I called transitional period and it was presented to the management advisory committee. It was approved and that’s what has been guiding us in managing the institution. The major challenge is finance, because in all that have caused the instability, you cannot rule out the issue of finance. Of course, there may be some other issues because as an academic institution, our concentration is on academic and administrative work. Though there are challenges of finance, I am sure, with the arrangements on ground and the involvement of all stakeholders, we are getting the understanding of all the people concerned and to the best of our ability we are making sure that all the issues that led to previous crisis are being avoided. One major thing is the issue of transparency. Although nobody is perfect as a human being, to the best of our ability, we try to tell everybody this is what the institution is having for now and this is what we can afford to do and based on that, there is understanding such that at the end of the day, nobody will say that you are hiding something. We try as much as we can to avoid that kind of scenario. HOW MUCH DOES THIS JOB TAKE OUT OF YOU PERSONALLY? I MEAN, TO WHAT EXTENT DOES IT MAKE YOU LOSE YOUR SLEEP OR DENY YOURSELF SOME BASIC PERSONAL COMFORTS? When you are in a position of leadership, especially in a big institution like Kaduna Polytechnic, you just have to sacrifice a lot to ensure success in whatever you are doing. So, it is taking much of my time; it is denying me some comfort and taking a lot of time I am supposed to spend with my family, and even reducing my level of socialisation. Certainly, things cannot be the same again when one is leading an institution like Kaduna Polytechnic that is 56 years old and that has a staff strength of about 3,000 and a student population of about 30,000. So, it is really challenging, not only on my part, but also on the part of management staff.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST EMBARRASSMENT ON THE JOB? What I can refer to as my greatest embarrassment so far, is going to class and discovering that a lecturer who is supposed to be there is nowhere to be found. I don’t like it at all, and that is what embarrasses me easily. WHAT DAY DO YOU REGARD AS YOUR SADDEST ON THIS JOB? That, I will say, is the day of the reprisal that followed the bombing of a church in Kaduna. We were caught unaware by that crisis, because our exams were already on and everything was disrupted. We had to go back to the drawing board to contend with the unfortunate incident. So, it took us backward. WHAT ABOUT YOUR HAPPIEST DAY? Hmmm! My happiest day was the day we held meeting with members of staff, both senior and junior. And by their contributions, questions and responses to issues, I realized that the polytechnic community was ready to support the management. So, I felt very happy that day and it gave me a lot of encouragement and excitement, seeing that the people I am leading are behind me and ready to cooperate with me. GREATEST BOOK YOU EVER READ? The greatest book I ever read is Management, written by J. A Stoner. WHICH BOOK ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT AND WHY? At present, my job does not allow to read any book. In fact, it is one of those things that I am missing. My work schedule is not giving me that chance. I come here in the morning and before I get back home, I am already exhausted. CAN YOU RECALL THE MOST MEMORABLE SCRIPT YOU EVER MARKED/MOST INTERESTING STUDENT YOU EVER MET EITHER AS A LECTURER OR SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR? That, I cannot easily recall because I have marked thousands of scripts as a lecturer. As for the student, there are quite a number of students who were outstanding, but the one I can call most memorable in recent past is one boy called Ibrahim Sarkin Haski. He did wonderfully well, both academically and even helped us greatly in conducting students’ affairs at departmental and college levels.
DAILY SUN Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Education Review “A schoolteacher or professor cannot educate individuals, he educates only species” – Georg C. Lichtenberg, German scientist, satirist and anglophile (1742-1799)
SPOTLIGHT: Human Interest Story
A Professor’s ‘queer’ habit Why he keeps in touch with his former students By CHIKA ABANOBI
t is not every teacher, whether in primary, secondary or tertiary school, that is interested in knowing where their students are, long after they had passed through them and passed out of school. But Prof. Friday Mbon, currently, member of the Governing Council of Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State (he represents that Council on the University’s Appointments and Promotions Committee and also chairs the Council’s subCommittee on Curriculum and Academic Standards), is a teacher with a difference. The one-time Head of the Department, Religious Studies and Philosophy (20002003), Dean, the Faculty of Arts (20052006) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic, 2006-2009), University of Calabar (UNICAL), has this ‘queer’habit of keeping in touch with his former students, whether from the remote or recent past. He manifested this streak recently when he came across this reporter’s name in The Sun newspaper. He quickly sent an sms wondering whether he was one “Chika Abanobi” he taught and supervised “her” academic project, in the 80s, at the University of Calabar. One thing led to another and, he got to know that although I am not the “Chika Abanobi” that he taught, I have a cousin who bears similar name but who is married and living with her family in United States. Her full names: Chikaodi Abanobi-Banor. It turned out that she was the one he was talking about, as she had not only read Religion and Philosophy at the University of Calabar but had her project supervised by Prof. Mbon. “That man is wonderful,” my cousin said to me when she eventually called to tell me how Prof. Mbon got to her through a contact I had given him. “Do you know that he sent his son who is based in United States to track me down with the contact you gave to him? And, he did and ever since then we’ve been talking. The other day I called him and we talked for a pretty long time. It’s strange, you mean, after more than 20 years, this man is still interested in knowing about what is happening to me?” That got me curious. Who is this man and why is he interested in knowing about the state of his former students and in keeping touch with them? “Keeping in touch with my former pupils/students affords me the unique opportunity of reminding them about the character/moral content of their education and of challenging them always to be good ambassadors of their alma mater,” he says in a telephone conversation with Education Review. “Nothing gives me greater joy and a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction than to know that my former students are doing well in their respective life vocations anywhere in the world. I love hearing from them. And when I receive calls or mails from them, in which they narrate their success stories, I feel I am on cloud nine!” According to him, because of the joy he
•Prof. Mbon derives from hearing success stories of his former students, he leaves no stones unturned in locating them and in knowing what they are doing. “Their success stories,” he insists, “add value to my life as a lecturer and encourage and motivate me to put in my best efforts and energy to produce more successful citizens not only for Nigeria but also for the world—graduates who are not only worthy in learning but also, even more importantly, in character, graduates who will stand for the right even though the heavens fall! I love to hear testimonies from my former students who, like Prince Itiat, once told me: “Prof. you taught me well. I stand tall today and feel proud that I passed through your academic
challenges...” To me, such testimonies are better than silver and gold.” In case you’ve forgotten, Prince Kofi Itiat, now residing in the United States, once served as an officer in the Nigeria Customs Service where he was reputed to have saved millions of Nigerian lives when he disobeyed the orders of his superiors and impounded vessels that were bringing in toxic beef from Russia, according to the story published in The Sun in September, 2011. In an e-mail which he sent to Mbon recently, and, which was forwarded to me on request, Itiat confessed, inter alia: “You taught me well. I stand tall today and feel proud that I passed through your hard academic chal-
lenges. It was the drill that now produced a fine graduate. When my degree certificate was evaluated by World Educational Evaluators, I had “A” instead of “Bf” I had in UNICAL... Prof. I can’t forget you. I had so much fond memory with you as my lecturer. I have been boasting that in my days, there was no handout. We were trained to read and research... I am so proud of UNICAL... I wish you keep up the flame of academic excellence which our University was noted for.” That is the testimony that Mbon said is better than silver and gold to him. A graduate of Andrews University (where he earned his Bachelor’s degree), and, the University of Calgary, Canada, where he earned the Masters degree in English, in 1978, and the famous McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where, in 1979, he earned the Master of Sacred Theology (STM), he capped his academic pursuits with a doctorate degree in the Sociology of Religion from the University of Ottawa, Canada, in 1986. For over three decades, he’s been teaching in the University system around the world, having started as a Graduate Assistant in the Universities of Calgary and Montreal, Canada, teaching English and Religion there. Currently, he is a Full Professor of seventeen years standing at the University of Calabar, where he started his lecturing career after his University education. He has also taught in visiting and sabbatical capacities at, among others, University of Bayreuth, Germany, University of Uyo, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, and Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica, in the West Indies. Some students he has taught over the years and who are now full professors include Prof. E.A. Offiong (current HOD, Department of Religion and Philosophy), UNICAL, Prof. C.O. Uchegbue, also of UNICAL, Profs. Wellington WenekaWotogbe and Vincent Nyoyoko, all of University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT). Reputed to be a very meticulous, strict, but disciplined lecturer, with an eye on minute details in matters of language, especially as regards the mechanics of the English language—punctuation, capitalization, paragraphing, etc, (for instance, it is said that at meetings of the University of Calabar Senate, minutes of previous meetings would not be adopted until he (Mbon) had seen and was satisfied that all grammatical flaws have been corrected), his advice to teachers at all levels in the school system is that, “first of all, as much as humanly possible, they should show genuine, personal interest in their pupils/students as persons while they are in school. That interest will definitely enable them to keep abreast of the whereabouts of those pupils/students after they had left school.” Teachers/lecturers who do not do so, says Mbon, “are like parents who bring up their children, but thereafter do not care about where they are or what happens to them in this wide, wild world of ours. One would not think much of such irresponsible and heartless parents.”
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Sun News - October 16, 2012