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UNIBEN shuts down indefinitely due to student protest on power outages

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The authorities of the University of Benin on Thursday shut down academic activities in the institution indefinitely.

The university in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, Dr Benedicta Ehanire, attributed the decision to the refusal of the students to shift grounds on their demands.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the students on Wednesday took to the streets, blocking the ever-busy Benin-Ore Highway to protest weeks of power outages on campus.

The students, who had two weeks until their first-semester examination, said the situation was severely affecting their preparation. The students also called for a downward review of transport fares by the UNIBEN shuttle service, which was increased with effect from July 1.

NAN reports that the university was thrown into a blackout by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) following the inability to reach an agreement over contentious electricity billings.

The monthly bill was said to have jumped from about ₦80 million to between ₦200 and ₦280 million, forcing the university to resort to power generators as well as rationalisation of power on the two campuses and hostels.

When a NAN correspondent spoke with the protesting students amidst heavy rainfall, they were hellbent on continuing the rampage unless their demands were met. But in the notice of closure made available to NAN, Ehanire described the students’ demand for a 24-hour supply of electricity as unrealistic.

“Following the insistence of students of the University of Benin to shift grounds on their demands for twenty-four hours supply of electricity and more, considered unrealistic by the University’s Senate, the University has shut down academic activities indefinitely.

“Students are to vacate the hostels immediately while all the relevant units of the University are to take note and comply.

“However, non teaching staff and staff on essential duties are not affected by the shut down,” said the university’s spokesperson.

Education

FG asks universities not to collect Post-UTME application fees from PWDs

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The federal government has urged universities not to collect Post-UTME application fees from persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Tahir Mamman, minister of education, gave the directive at the 2024 ‘Policy Meeting on Admissions to Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria’.

The meeting held on July 18 at The Body of Benchers in Abuja.

“It is not in doubt that the challenges faced by Persons Living with Disabilities in terms of access to education have remained intractable despite unprecedented efforts to ensure equal opportunities for studies,” he said.

“One of such reforms to encourage inclusive participation of Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) as contained in the Roadmap for the Nigerian Education Sector which I launched in 2023, is the waiver of application fees during the 2024 registration exercise.

“This has yielded positive results, with a significant increase in applicants this year. Efforts are ongoing to encourage more participation of PLWDs.”

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Education

JAMB issues audiobook for visually impaired DE, UTME candidates

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has issued audiobooks for visually impaired candidates seeking to take the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) or gain admission through Direct Entry (DE).

The latest innovation was contained in a document titled ‘Registrar’s Report on 2023 Admission and 2024 UTME’ and released at this year’s policy meeting which took place at Hairat Ade Balogun Auditorium, Body of Benchers, Abuja on Thursday.

The exam body said the audiobook aims to provide a level playing field for all candidates.

JAMB also disclosed that the material is a digital adaptation of the traditional reading book, adding that it is in audio file formats like WMV, MP3, WMA, AAC, etc.

The board said the innovation was suggested at the first national conference on equal opportunity of access to higher education in Nigeria between September 25 and 26, 2023.

“It is a digital adaptation of the traditional reading book. It is in popular audio file format like WMV, MP3, WMA, AAC, etc. It is compatible with all devices that can stream audio records,” the document reads in part.

“This helps the blind candidates to easily understand the subject/text.”

About 577 visually impaired candidates wrote this year’s UTME in eleven centres nationwide.

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Education

Some universities were admitting 10-year-olds, says Oloyede on new age limit

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Ishaq Oloyede, registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), says some tertiary institutions in Nigeria were found to have illegally admitted candidates as young as 10 and 12.

The ministry of education earlier pegged the minimum age for university, polytechnic, and college of education admissions at 18.

Oloyede, during JAMB’s policy meeting in Abuja, spoke on why it became necessary to adopt a minimum age for admissions.

He said some universities had admitted candidates as young as 12 and 10 outside JAMB’s central admission processing system (CAPS).

Oloyede cited the case of a Nigerian institution he did not name and a postgraduate applicant who was looking to study in Germany.

He said the student, documented to have enrolled in the university at 12 to graduate at 15, was discovered after they attempted to pursue a postgraduate degree in Germany.

Oloyede said the European Union, whose scholarship grant the student attempted to apply for, had contacted the board to verify the student’s credentials.

“The candidate applied for a postgraduate scholarship under Erasmus Mundus. The body found it strange that the candidate’s date of birth was 2007,” he said.

“By her passport, she started studying at a university in Nigeria when she was 12 and graduated at 15. The selection committee contacted Nigeria to confirm whether the candidate studied at a university.

“The EU asked if it was possible to graduate candidates at such a young age.”

Oloyede said such cases could negatively affect the perception of the larger pool of degrees awarded by Nigerian tertiary institutions.

“In the next two to three years, the EU could tighten its requirements and all graduates of Nigerian universities would suffer it,” he said.

“We found that [JAMB] never admitted the candidate because she was underage. The university admitted and registered the candidate. I couldn’t respond to the EU because I was embarrassed. I didn’t know what to write.

“Ignorantly, the vice-chancellor confirmed that the student attended the school but that they weren’t the VC at that time.”

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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