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#OurNASS: SILENT NO MORE September 22, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, MORALITY, POLITICS.
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2 comments

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In Nigeria, the tyranny of the minority, of  crass opportunists, of about 469 elite members of the National Assembly has subjected millions of Nigerians to untold hardship and suffering. Corruption is Nigeria’s greatest challenge, its cure is openness, accountability and transparency. This will be put to test starting from the 26th of September, 2013.

In 8 years, the National Assembly; with 469 members have expended N1,000,000,000,000 (N1trillion) of public funds. These funds, alarmingly, are statutory transfers: whether the nation is in trouble or not, these funds are transferred to fund the ‘operations’ of the national assembly. Our representatives have lost their moral conscience to reject in every way possible, the most criminal form of raping its citizens. At different rates from 2005 (but consistent since 2009), the National Assembly transfers N150billion to its coffers at the detriment of the welfares of over 160million citizens.

N1trillion expended on 469 people in 8 years is a rape of the Nigerian people, whose welfare and concern should be chief to elected officers. Has N1trillion being spent to benefit the populace in 8 years? The implications of N1trillion in capital expenditure in Nigeria over 8 years are wide reaching:

EMPOWERMENT:
Jobs: 100,000 jobless graduates can start their entrepreneurial outfit with N10million which ultimately has its chain of employing others within the business scope.

Farmers: young graduates can be employed from universities to revive the agricultural sector with wide ranging effect on Nigeria’s agricultural trade and export. Besides, agricultural implements and resources such as Tractors can be bought which undoubtedly have significant impact on the yield of products.

Technology Hubs: it is estimated that about N50million will run an effective hub. (20 hubs can be created from N1trillion)

HEALTH:
Medical Tourism: The Nigerian Medical Association claims that Nigeria loses about $800m to medical tourism yearly (http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/09/nigeria-loses-800m-to-medical-tourism-yearly-nma/). Imagine the economic implications for our nation if we heavily invested N1trillion in our health sector.

Hospital Equipments: Every day, across our communities, women and children are endangered constantly because of lack of access to beds, drugs, power, etc. Many of our children die heavily because of lack of access to drugs for malaria, and we have a high toll on maternal deaths because of lack of access to basic healthcare resources.

Portable Water: Houses in Nigeria run as local governments, providing their water, power, security and other public amenities required to be provided by the government. Every society deserves basic access to clean water which ultimately solves a lot of the health challenges in the nation (Typhoid, Cholera, etc)

EDUCATION
ASUU/Teachers Welfare: In Nigeria, it is the norm for ASUU to be on strike every year, making demands for its teachers’ union. At the moment, the ongoing ASUU strike has taken another toll on the educational sector, crippling academic activities in tertiary institutions since July 1st, 2013. It is easy to criminalize ASUU’s insensitivity on the future of our young people who have stayed at home this long. However, their demands are realistic: 30,000 staff members over 37 Federal Universities are asking for their N87bn promise to be met. Their total annual salary stands at N199bn. Compare that to the National Assembly’s N150bn; with just 469 members!

Out-Of-School Children: The Education For All report reveals that about 10.6 million Nigerians are out of school (of the 57 million worldwide). Providing classrooms for this children should be the utmost priority of the Nigerian government asides other incentives
Scholarships: N1trillion is enough to fund over 150,000 students in our tertiary institutions every year.

Hostels: If it takes TETFUND just N184m to construct 224 room hostels, imagine the number of hostels we can construct with N1trillion

INFRASTRUCTURE/BASIC AMENITIES
Roads: Nigeria funds the 128km Lagos-Ibadan expressway with N167bn (http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/09/infrastructure-bank-to-raise-n167bn-for-lagos-ibadan-expressway/). The implications are that about 6 of this new expressway can be constructed with the N1trillion

Bridges: A second major bridge in Nigeria (and more) can be constructed with N1trillion.

Housing: Over 500,000 Nigerians can be housed with low cost housing units as seen in Festac Town, Lagos, Nigeria

Railways: Imagine the implications of freight and transport railways across nigeria, connecting towns to local areas, and states to states. Imagine the relief on transporting products from the north to the south, as well as the implications on cost of agricultural products amongst many other things.

With great knowledges comes great responsibility. Now that you know of the diverse implications N1trillion investment in our various sectors can bring, would you join other patriots this Thursday 26th September 2013 as we demand:

– Immediate comprehensive breakdown of their budgetary allocation of N150 billion for 2013.
– an account of the N1 trillion received since 2005 before the next recess in December.
– a functional contact information – numbers, email addresses and physical addresses of their constituency offices.We demand the names of at least two contact people attached to the numbers and email addresses.
– that ALL voting records on ALL constitutional amendments.
– that the attendance list for each plenary be made public.

No leader, no government, no organized force can stand in the way of an informed demanding Citizenry.

Keeping quiet at this juncture is not tenable. Join other patriots to make your demands known.

We cannot be Silent, No More!

AFRICA: SALVAGING EDUCATION USING TECHNOLOGY September 10, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, EDUCATION.
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3 comments

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Every child, irrespective of race or religion, deserves two things — clean basic amenities and the right to good sound education. A peaceful future lies in the hands of an educated child. Despite all the advancements that the world has made, millions of children still cannot read and write. Across many states, the target of 100 percent attendance is already met or expected to be met by 2015, the latest data also shows that in 2011 there were still some 57 million children out of school. (Education for All Report). Of these 57 million children, 10.6 million are found in Nigeria, one of the sub-Saharan African nations.

Leveraging on technology to advance best practices accessible by citizens of the world is essential. Technology can facilitate individualized instruction so that each student can learn at his/her own pace. Through multimedia, videos and digital lessons; students can repeat a lesson if they had difficulty the first time or at any time as willed. With increasing technology use in education, it will be retrogressive to withhold children back. However, this must not be pursued without adequate understanding (and provisions for) other factors that may impede educational development.

The problems of emerging new education models that guarantee easy access to quality standards in learning in education are many for sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, if the rate of drop outs from schools is to be reduced substantially, there are many factors that need to be considered. A single story/approach will not suffice until a comprehensive understanding has been sought. For instance, reducing the cost to attend school as well as other basic incentives infrastructure is important to bridging the gap in some societies.

Essentially, to ensure an increased children’s access to quality primary education across sub-Saharan Africa, integrated programmes that eliminate the underlying obstacles that prevent children from going to school and learning must be worked on. Incentives such as free education (where possible), school feeding, de-worming activities, quality curriculum, literacy and numeracy through teacher training, standard classrooms, provision of water, sanitation and hygiene in schools are vital in increasing school attendance rates.

Political will: A look at sub-Saharan African countries – the Lions, will drive home the arguments. Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Uganda. Bedeviling corruption and bad governance plaguing most of these African nations, it is left to wonder how committed its leaders will be in pursuing sound education methods that will free its citizenry from continued ignorance and bridge the inequality gap. Sound education strengthens the fight against poverty, political instability, prejudice, injustice, socio-economic inequalities, diseases, etc. This hugely contravenes the existence and perpetration of the status quo across sub-Saharan Africa.

Investment Cost: Investment in technology will ensure that quality education is accessible across board, by citizens in local and urban centres. The cost (fixed in many cases) that will transform sub-Saharan education, which can be provided by resource wealth from sub-Saharan African nations, may not be provided. Fibre optics, provision of technological gadgets (iPad, solar paneled laptops, etc), training; — not forgetting the various complications that may arise from its usage – often time impede the possibility of a technological bridge in education. Also, many African nations are landlocked, and this may increase the investment cost across regions. However, corporate governance may help solve this challenge, provided there is strong political will to assure corporations of compliance with terms.

Private investors in education as seen all over developed nations can leverage on this opportunity. “There are three strong players with millions of students and thousands of course offerings, all for free and available to anyone in the world. Coursera, Udacity, and edX have over four million enrolled students in their Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Online education platform Fenbi.com will close around a $7 million second round in the very near future, possibly next month, said Xiang Gao, partner at IDG Capital Partners, one of the investors in the deal. Also, this year’s maiden deal saw Shanghai-based Alo7, an English online language provider aimed at teaching three to 15-year olds, close a Series C round of funding of $10 million backed by Qualcomm Ventures, United Microelectronics Corporation and Vickers Venture Partners.” (http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2013/09/05/education-is-a-hard-lesson-for-chinese-investors/)

This shows that, for a technological driven education to resound, it has to be backed with increased, aggressive and continuous funding to ensure results. Investment will guarantee accessibility across board. This way, there would not be fluctuations in content or access to educational content whenever and wherever needed.

Policy continuation: Successive governments in sub-Saharan Africa play the propaganda tool (even when needless) to demonize erstwhile administrations. Indeed, Africa is replete of abandoned projects. While an administration may sufficiently provide the political will, investment and reform that is needed to guarantee a cutting edge technological-driven educational sector, successive governments may repeal this policies and lead years of quality investments to waste. Starting a technological revolution in education is not enough, continuity through guaranteed sustainability is important.

Local challenges: There are many factors that contribute to the drop-out rates in schools across sub-saharan Africa. Understanding this local challenge is the most important factor in providing what that state “needs”. Technology may not necessarily be the topmost priority in a state’s need to increase school attendance. It could be the provision of basic infrastructure such as classrooms. Prioritizing local needs will remain an important part of advancing sound education in sub-Saharan Africa.

Usage/Teacher training: Two states in Nigeria started the revolution in education for instance; Ekiti and Osun states respectively. As surveyed, besides providing technological equipments (Solar-powered laptops in Ekiti state and Opon Imo tablet in Osun states), usage remains an important part of quality education delivery. In many quarters, teachers are not even computer literate let alone savvy enough to devolve learning tools to students. Also, many students were found to utilize these resources for perverted interests (visiting pornography sites). These are not originally intended goals of technological provisions.

Besides, it is important to guarantee children’s cyber-safety and how to keep them from making mistakes online that could have devastating effects. Today, children are increasingly becoming targets of pedophiles. Thus, children will need to be trained about basics of cyber-safety such as never giving out personal information online like a full name, address or phone number. This could be a barrier as there are hardly enough precautions to ascertain these instructions are adhered to.

Africa is at the threshold of an amazing growth opportunity; leveraging on technology for its development. China did not have this privilege. Imagine the future of Nigeria; the socio-economic implications if those 10.6 million out-of-school children are re-absorbed back into schools. If sub-Saharan Africa will take advantage of technology, by understudying the various obstacles that could prevent its usage, leveraging on it would rapidly advance the common good, improve lives, lift many out of poverty (as China did with over 500 million people in 30 years), and bridge the inequality divide. If sub-Saharan governments will utilize this opportunity remains the greatest challenge!

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