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Nadhim Zahawi: I Will Not Stand Back And See Schools Close

Nadhim Zahawi: I will not stand back and see schools close

The new Education Secretary has said he will not “stand back” and allow pupils to miss school as a result of Covid, as he encouraged children to get the vaccine.

Setting out his priorities for the first time in his new role, Nadhim Zahawi said that as a parent he has seen how “damaging” it can be for children to be out of education and the “great strain” it can put on family life.

Mr Zahawi, who was appointed Education Secretary earlier this month after Gavin Williamson was sacked in a Cabinet re-shuffle, said that almost every state school is now open and operating normally.

He cited the latest official attendance figures, which showed that 122,500 pupils were off school last week compared to a peak of more than a million in July when entire “bubbles” were sent home when a child tested positive.

‘We won’t stand back and let attendance fall’
“While the latest attendance figures show more than 91 per cent of children are in school, we must do everything we can to keep as many in face-to-face learning as possible,” he said.

“We can’t and won’t stand back and let attendance fall. The education of our children is simply too important.”

Mr Zahawi’s comments will be seen as a signal that he is willing to stand up to the unions which have repeatedly called for schools to close during the pandemic.

His predecessor was accused of being too soft on teaching unions and failing to get children back to the classroom quickly enough following the first national lockdown, then presiding over the controversial “bubbles” policy which at its height saw over a million pupils forced to stay at home after a classmate tested positive.

Mr Zahawi said that the swift rollout of the Covid jab among adults, which he oversaw in his previous role as vaccines minister, had led to the safe reopening of society and the economy.

“As a result, life has returned to relative normality far sooner than many of us dared to imagine,” he said.

“Now, in my new job as the Prime Minister’s Education Secretary, I’m determined to see the same sense of urgency and vigour we’ve witnessed throughout our vaccination programme as we offer the vaccine to children aged 12 and above.”

Mr Zahawi said that no child is being “forced” to have the vaccine, adding: “It is a personal medical choice for children and parents or carers to discuss and we trust them to do so – and no one should be stigmatised for their decision.”

‘Being vaccinated is personal medical choice’
But, he stressed: “Let’s be clear. Being vaccinated is a good thing, both for you and for those around you.”

The Education Secretary accused anti-vaccine protesters outside schools of behaving in an “outrageous and completely unacceptable” manner.

“Under no circumstances is it ever acceptable to target teachers or the wider school community,” he said.

“As Education Secretary, I want teachers and students to know that I will always stand up for them and tackle any harassment head on, so teachers can do their vital jobs safely and children get the education they deserve – regardless of whatever choice children and their parents make over vaccination.”

The vaccine roll-out in schools began last week after the UK’s chief medical officers said offering a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab to around three million pupils would “reduce educational disruption”.

The move came despite the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation deciding not to recommend the mass vaccination of 12 to 15 year olds, as it concluded the jab would provide only a marginal benefit to that cohort, which is at a low risk from the virus.

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World bank supports Oyo govt withN3.5b grant to renovate schools

2023: Makinde, Oyo PDP leaders at loggerheads over support for Atiku

The World Bank has supported Oyo State Government with N3.5 billion grant for the renovation of selected 105 public primary schools across the state.

The state Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, made the disclosure on Friday in Ibadan during a symbolic presentation of cheques to representatives of some of the beneficiary schools.

Makinde, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Bayo Lawal said the grant was meant for the renovation of primary schools with critical attention.

The governor explained that the works would commence simultaneously in all the 105 schools selected across the three senatorial districts of the state.

He admonished those in charge of the exercise to avoid doing shoddy jobs but to ensure that all the projects were in accordance with the prescriptions.

He said that doing quality jobs would make the essence of the projects realisable and equally make the general public to appreciate government efforts in the education sector.

“A huge amount of money is being put into this project and the beneficiaries must put eyes into what is being done in their respective schools.

“The standard must be in accordance with prescriptions, so that our children will take maximum advantage of the facilities government is putting in place,” Makinde said.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Education Intervention, Mr Suraj Tiamiyu, said that the renovation of the 105 approved public primary schools mostly in the rural areas was expected to be completed within six weeks.

Tiamiyu said the renovation would include construction of toilets, boreholes drilling among other facilities that would make learning environment more condusive for pupils.

He added that the exercise would be properly monitored for effective delivery to standard and time framework.

The grant support is a World Bank Project under Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) – Additional Funding (AF).

The project is a form of educational grant from the World Bank with Global Partnership for Education (GPE) aiming to increase equitable access for out-of-school children and improvement of literacy in beneficiary states.

Oyo state and two other states, namely; Adamawa and Katsina were beneficiaries of the grant, which is also seeking to strengthen accountability for results in basic education in Nigeria.

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Gov Yusuf to build 300 labs, 1,000 classrooms, employ 10,000 teachers in Kano schools

Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano State on Saturday declared a state of emergency on education in the state, with a promise to immediately employ 10, 000 teachers across the state.

The declaration took place at the Kano Government House, with the governor emphasizing that the era of educational negligence in the state is over.

The governor said the Kano educational landscape, once a beacon of hope and opportunity for the youth and an example for other states to copy, is now in a state of decadence.

“The problems are multi-faceted; we face a severe shortage of qualified teachers, inadequate teacher training programmes, and a lack of basic amenities such as clean water and sanitation in many of our schools.

“These issues, coupled with the socioeconomic challenges that many of our students face, create an environment where education is not just difficult, but nearly impossible,” he lamented.

The governor said an additional 300 state- of-the-art laboratories in 100 schools across the state will be provided. The provision of these facilities, he said, will provide students with hands-on experience in scientific inquiry, fostering a culture of experimentation and discovery that is essential for their future success.

In order to create a more conducive atmosphere for learning, he announced the construction of 1, 000 classrooms across the state within the next academic session.

“This measure will, no doubt, mitigate classroom congestion that has become a common feature of most of our schools.

We have also directed that all contractors handling inherited abandoned projects in our tertiary institutions go back to site immediately,” he said.

As part of the emergency action, the governor approved the hiring of additional 10,000 teachers, adding that teachers will enjoy periodic training and retraining so as to achieve the vision of making “every teacher, a caring educator. ”

He added:“At least 1,000 Academic and non-academic staff will be employed into tertiary institutions.

“This declaration is not just symbolic; it signifies a commitment to overhaul our education system. We will invest in infrastructure, ensuring that every school has adequate classrooms conducive to teaching and learning.

“We will also prioritise teacher training and welfare, recognising their pivotal role in shaping the minds of tomorrow.”

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2024 WASSCE will go on despite strike- WAEC insists

The West Africa Examination Council (WAEC), has insisted that despite the nationwide strike declared by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) the ongoing examination will continue.

The NLC and TUC had flagged a nationwide strike on Monday after a four-hour meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on Sunday evening in Abuja, failed to produce the desired results.

Following the commencement of the industrial action, a statement by the Head of National Officer, Branch Controller, WAEC, T.A.Y Lawson, on Monday, disregarded the strike, saying the conduct of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination goes on as scheduled.

“The attention of the management has been drawn to a notice of the commencement of the indefinite strike by NLC and TUC effective from Monday, 3rd June, 2024.

“Please be formally informed that the conduct of WASSCE SC 2024 goes on as scheduled,” the statement noted in part.

According to the statement, the commission said that as much as it shared the concern of the unions and the generality of Nigerians, the exams would go on across the member countries of WAEC and the Nigerian child should not be put to a disadvantage of missing the exams.

“For the aforesaid reason, WAEC will conduct the exams and school principals, supervisors, parents and the general public should please take note and make adequate arrangements for their children to sit for the exam,” the statement added,

The list of subjects to be sat for on Monday include; Physics 3 (Practical) (Alternative B), Computer Studies 3 (Practical), Insurance 2 (Essay), and Insurance 1 (Objective)

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