Published On: Wed, May 22nd, 2019

FG approves more N25bn to avert ASUU crisis

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* Slashes unity schools fees by 50 percent
• Reps abolishes BSc/HND dichotomy
• Offenders to pay 5m, 1m respectively

From Maryam Abeeb and Christiana Ekpa

The Federal Government has approved more Twenty Five Billion Naira for the nation’s public universities to meet the demands made by the Academic Staff Union of Universities to end unrest in the institutions.
Government also announced yesterday that it has reduced some charges in unity schools across the country amounting to about fifty percent.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu disclosed this yesterday at his valedictory ministerial press briefing in Abuja, saying that the money will be shared to the beneficiary institutions directly.
He also said that, some universities since 2013 have not been able to access the third tranche of the N200billion released by the Central Bank of Nigeria, even as he did not give any reasons for this.
Adamu therefore appealed to ASUU to shun further strikes and allow for peaceful negotiations.
Recall that after ending a three-month strike, the ASUU and the Federal Government signed a Memorandum of Action in February 2019 and a government team was also set up to renegotiate the 2009 agreement.
The minister noted that, “Funding has been one of the major challenges of tertiary education in this country. At the inception of this administration, we inherited an unimplementable agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU whose total value was put at N1.3trillion which payment was to be spread over six years.
“Between 2014 to 2017, the nation witnessed an economic downturn and consequently, there were no releases in the N1.3trillion. However, last year, the Federal Government released N20billion directly to universities and all of them have got their share. The Federal Government has just approved an additional N25billion to be shared to beneficiary institutions directly.”
On the reduction in unity schools fees, Adamu explained that, instead of N83,000 paid by fresh students for first term, students will now pay N49,000, saying that details of other charges will be conveyed to parents at the end of this year academic session.
His words, ‘Let me use the opportunity to inform Nigerians that the federal government has reviewed downward some of the charges in our unity colleges. In the place of N83, 000 paid by fresh students (JSS1) for first term, the 2019/2020 JSS1 students will now pay N49, 500.
Details of other charges will be conveyed to parents at the end of this year academic session.”
He said this will further give financial relief to parents adding that the government also cancelled the second entry examination into unity schools, which attracted a minimum of N2, 500.
Adamu lamented the estimated 60.5 million adult and young illiterates, representing 39% of the country’s population.
The Minister noted that the federal government has established the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-formal education, with a mandate to eradicate adult illiteracy.
He added that this will also help in increasing awareness on the importance of literacy as well as developed literacy programme.
According to him, in the last four years the government has increase the sensitization and advocacy visits as part of measures to revitalize the youth and adult literacy programme.
He added that policies and strategies have also be developed to eradicate illiteracy in the country.
The minister stressed that over 50,000 illiterates can now read and write, while 104 literacy centers has been established in federal unity colleges.
Also yesterday, the House of Representatives abolished and prohibited all forms of dichotomy and discrimination between the holders of First Degrees and Higher National Diplomas.
It has also mandated all individuals and corporate bodies in both the public service and private sector to henceforth carry out the new rule.
Contravention to this attracts the penalty of N5 million and N1 million for corporate organizations and individuals or 5 years of imprisonment.
This followed the passage of a bill titled “A Bill for an Act to Abolish and Prohibit Dichotomy and Discrimination between First Degrees and Higher National Diplomas in the same Profession; and for Related Matters (HB. 789)”, for Third reading at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The bill now await harmonization with the Senate for onward transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari for presidential assent.
The details of the bill read thus: “First Degrees and Higher National Diplomas in the same profession and or field shall be deemed and treated as exact equivelent graduate certificates;
“All forms of discrimination and or dichotomy between first degrees and Higher National Diplomas in the same profession or field in any form whatsoever is hereby abolished;
“All forms of discrimination and or dichotomy between First Degrees and Higher National Diplomas in the same profession or field in any form whatsoever is hereby prohibited;
“Accordingly, no person, entity (body or corporate) in whatsoever name called shall discriminate and or undertake any action in any form whatsoever which is construed as and or intended to give any preferential treatment in favor band it against holders of First Degree or Higher National Diplomas in the same field or profession;
“Contravention of this law by a corporate entity and or an individual is an offence punishable on conviction:
“(a) To a fine not exceeding N5,000,000,00 to the staff found guilty in the case of a corporate entity;
“(b) To a fine not exceeding N1,000.000.00 or imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or both in the case of an individual “This by shall be applicable to both the Public Service and the private sector where graduates are employed in the same profession or field.
“Holders or First Degrees and Higher National Diplomas in the same profession or field shall be given equal treatment and opportunity in careers placements, career progressions, admission to further studies and in any other form whatsoever in consideration of status as graduates of Nigerian Tertiary Institutions of Higher Learning”.

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