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Social mobility tsar wants campaign against toddlers having mobile phones

Social mobility

Social mobility tsar wants campaign against toddlers having mobile phones

The government’s new social mobility commissioner has told MPs she wants to launch a nationwide campaign telling parents not to give their toddlers a mobile phone to play with because it will make reading harder for them later on.

Katharine Birbalsingh told MPs there was “a lack of knowledge out there” and that she would like to use her role to get information to parents across the country to help them better support their children and thus improve their social mobility.

She also played down the significance of the digital divide in learning, saying laptops were not the answer to educational disadvantage. The best way to tackle educational disparities between rich and poor children, she said, was to improve teaching in schools, ensuring good discipline and high standards for all.

Birbalsingh, the head teacher of a secondary school described as the strictest, in Britain, was giving evidence to the women and equalities committee on Wednesday at a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing before she takes up her role as chair of the Social Mobility Commission.

A critic of “woke culture” and a favourite of many Conservative ministers, Birbalsingh was quizzed about her view of the term white privilege, which she has previously said undermines black children.

She said she did not deny the existence of racism or sexism, but warned that if you keep telling children the establishment is against them, they are likely to give up. “I’ve always worked in the inner city. Many of the children in my schools have been ethnic minority kids.

“If it’s the case that you are telling them all the time, ‘You can’t get this job because you are black’, or ‘You can’t do this because you are brown’, it’s very hard for a child to be able to see above that. That does not mean we should bury our heads.”

The Institute of Race Relations criticised her appointment, saying it showed the government was ignoring the evidence on inequality and “hardwired racism” in the education system.

Birbalsingh is well known in the education sector as the head teacher of Michaela Community School, a secondary school in Wembley, north London, which has a “no excuses” behaviour policy and has been judged outstanding by Ofsted.

Asked about her plans for her new role, she said: “My initial thoughts are that I would like national campaigns on things like phones and not giving them to your toddler. I would love it if we could get to a point where [the issue is considered] in the same way that we know that you should eat four or five fruit vegetables in a day, or drink eight glasses of water a day.”

She agreed that the pandemic had been “a disaster” for disadvantaged children and she understood why the government had distributed laptops, but questioned the assumption that the more digital access you have as a family, the better off you are in terms of accessing education. “I think there’s a lot more to accessing education and I don’t think the solution is providing more laptops for families,” she said.

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Education

ASUU Strike Hindered Payment Of Bursaries To Education Students- F.G

The Federal Ministry of Education on Monday noted that the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities has hindered the payment of bursary to students of education in universities.

This was disclosed by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Andrew Adejo, during the 2022 World Teachers Day press briefing held in Abuja.

The Federal Government had, in 2021 disclosed President Muhammadu Buhari’s  promise to release bursaries to students studying education in universities and colleges of education

Speaking to the press, Adejo said, “The implementation of the payment of stipends has commenced.

“However, due to the strike, we have not been able to get the data of all the students in universities. We only have 7 per cent of the required data to be processed for payment.”

Adejo further said, “I must state here that the national implementation of the New National Teaching Policy has commenced. It is a holistic package that will ultimately address the career path, remuneration, professional teaching standards, qualification, deployment and management of teachers.

“The theme for the year 2022 WTD which is ‘the transformation of education begins with teachers’ strongly stresses the importance of empowering teachers for the effective transformation of education to ensure quality teaching and learning as well as galvanize technological advancements to meet the ever-changing needs for national growth and development.”

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Education

ASUU Saga: Reps Summon Ngige, DG Budget Office, AGF, SGF And Others

ASUU Saga: Reps Summon Ngige, DG Budget Office, AGF, SGF And Others

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has invited the Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige and several others to appear before the lawmakers on Thursday next week

Gbajabiamila, who said this on Thursday at the resumed fact-finding meeting on the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Universities (ASUU), also invited the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan; the Accountant General of the Federation; Director General, Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission; the Director General Budget Office among others.

As part of the push to resolve the lingering ASUU strike, Gbajabiamila, alongside his deputy, Ahmed Idris Wase and other leaders of the House on Thursday met with the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS),  the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr. Ekpo Nta, among other government officials.

Thursday’s meeting was a sequel to an earlier one the Speaker held with ASUU officials on Tuesday where issues related to the strike were discussed.

The outcome of Tuesday’s meeting led the House leadership to invite the Head of Service, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission, and the Accountant General of the Federation, among others.

“At Thursday’s meeting, NITDA told the House leadership that the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS), and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) failed its integrity tests regarding the university payroll, which the agency conducted between March and JUNE this year,” the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, Lanre Lasisi, said in a statement.

“According to a NITDA official at the meeting, the government directed the agency to test UTAS in October 2020, adding that the platform failed the two integrity tests conducted on it.

“He said following the first test, ASUU was asked to go back and review, which it did. Yet, the platform did not meet NITDA’s requirements the second time.

“For the third time, NITDA was then asked to conduct tests on UTAS, IPPIS, and U3PS, which the official said all three platforms failed its requirements regarding the payroll system of universities.”

Lasisi added that “Not satisfied with the explanation, Speaker Gbajabiamila asked if NITDA advised the government to take action on the lapses found on IPPIS, which has been in operation by the government since 2011. But the NITDA official said they were not in a position to do that.

“Gbajabiamila also asked if NITDA queried the IPPIS platform, to which the official responded in the negative.

Deputy Speaker Wase also expressed reservations at NITDA’s action, saying it ought to have advised the government on the appropriate action to take in view of its discovery on IPPIS.

“But the Head of Service, in her explanation, said the ministry of communications and digital economy wrote her office following NITDA’s observations about IPPIS on the need to take a holistic look at the platform and that a committee was empaneled to carry out the assignment.

“She also noted that IPPIS is not just a payment platform but that it also has a human resource component, which all government agencies have been directed to activate, noting that all those directly under her purview have since complied.

“Also, the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr Nta, told the House leadership that in view of the general agitation in the tertiary education sector, the agency advised the government to look at the possibility of increasing the salaries of the staff in the entire sector, comprising universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.

“He said, however, that at the end of the day, the government decided to increase the salaries of lecturers in the universities by a certain percentage, while professors were considered for higher percentage.

“He said he was not aware of any agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU for salary increment.

“Also speaking at the meeting, the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh, said under no circumstance should employees dictate to their employers how they should be paid, faulting ASUU’s insistence on UTAS.

“After hours of deliberations, the Speaker suggested that a further follow-up meeting with ASUU officials be held on Thursday next week, which the stakeholders subscribed to. The meeting was, therefore, adjourned to Thursday next week.”

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Education

Bad Leadership Causing Poor State Of Universities- Ebonyi Varsity V.C

The Vice-Chancellor of David Umahi Federal University of Health Sciences, Uburu, Ebonyi State, Prof. Jesse Uneke, has attributed the failure of most government-owned universities in the country to poor leadership.

He stated this during a press briefing at the university’s conference hall, in Uburu, Thursday.

He said, “A lot of universities have issues and problems, and most times, people blame it on the Federal Government. That ought not to be. Most of the problems in the nation’s universities are caused by bad leadership. This is very critical.

“If you go to any university and you find that things are not moving well, check the leadership. If the government is giving you salaries, giving you capital projects and giving you recurrent; for goodness sake, all you just need is to have a good leadership and management, the university wouldn’t have problems.

“That’s the challenge we are having. But I don’t want to go into that. However, I want you to understand that the failure of some the universities we have in Nigeria is not because the government is not doing its best; it has been as a result of bad leadership”, he added.

 

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