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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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NECO Releases 2022 SSCE Results

The National Examinations Council has released the 2022 Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination results.

This was announced by NECO Registrar, Prof. Dantani Wushishi, on Thursday at the NECO Headquarters in Minna, Niger State.

Wushishi added that the council blacklisted 29 supervisors for their alleged involvement in various malpractice offences.

He also said four schools were recommended for de-recognition for two years over consistent malpractices.

Wushishi further disclosed that the council recorded a decline in malpractice in the 2022 internal senior school certificate examinations as against other years.

“In the area of malpractices, 13, 595 were caught as against 20, 003 in year 2021, which showed appreciable decline in number of malpractices cases.”

“Twenty nine supervisors were blacklisted for various offended ranging from poor supervision, insult, aiding and abetting during the examinations”.

Dantani gave the number of candidates that registered for the Examinations as 1, 209, 703 while 1, 198, 412 sat for the examination.

He further stated that the number of candidates who got five credits and above, including English Language and Mathematics is 727, 864 representing 60.74 per cent.


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UNIBEN Announces Post UTME Dates

The University of Benin has fixed dates for its Post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry screenings for 2022/2023 session.

The Registrar of the University, Mr Ademola Bobola gave the notice on Wednesday in Benin, saying the examinations and screening would hold between Nov. 14 and Nov. 25.

Bobola said that the screening would be conducted in designated centres at the Ugbowo main campus of the institution, using the Computer-Based Test (CBT) mode.

“Only candidates, who applied through JAMB for the 2022/2023 UTME and direct entry admission and chose University of Benin as first choice and scored 200 and above for UTME candidates, are eligible for this screening exercise,” the registrar said.

Bobola, however, referred admission seekers to the institution’s official website for further details.

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Court Strikes Out NANS Suit Against ASUU

A suit filed by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to compel the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off the ongoing strike has on Tuesday been struck out by the National Industrial Court.

In the ruling, the judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman terminated further proceedings in the matter after it was withdrawn by the claimant, Umar Lawal.

From facts, Lawal had filed the suit which was mentioned on Sept.16, for himself and on behalf of NANS against the Minister of Education, ASUU and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

However, when the matter slated for hearing came up on Tuesday, Lawal notified the court that he had filed a motion for discontinuance.

He added that he premised his decision to withdraw the suit on account of the challenge by NANS which contested his position as its president in the affidavit he had deposed to.

After Lawal submitted his application, the court asked if Marshal Abubakar, counsel to ASUU, had any objection, he informed the court that he was not opposed to Lawal’s application to withdraw the suit.

The other defendants, however, had no legal representation in court.

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