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Kebbi State in the throes of COVID 19, flooding

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• Bunza Outlines Steps To Ensuring Quality Training

Kebbi State has started grappling with the aftershocks of the flood devastations, which destroyed farms, buildings and crucial infrastructure in various parts of the state. The school system was not spared in the sad tales of woe, because primary, secondary and tertiary institutions experienced the damaging impacts of the menace.

Out of the 300 public secondary schools in the state, 70 are boarding and 123 are for the senior cadre, while 107 are purely junior. After the flooding, it was discovered that only government day secondary school Makera was badly affected by the flood devastation

As educational institutions prepare to resume normal activities in the state after the COVID19 stay at home protocol, the State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Mukhtar Umar Bunza, told journalists that the state had taken various measures to ensure that its focus on qualitative education in the state was not threatened by the accidents of nature.

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Prof. Bunza explained that part of what the government did to ward off challenges posed unforeseen developments like the flooding and covid-19 protocols was to place various institutions under the management of his ministry.

He said: “Before the Bagudu initiative of June 2016, tertiary institutions in the state, such as University of Science and Technology, Aliero, Polytechnic Dakingari, College of Agriculture Zuru, School of Health Technology, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Adamu Augie College of Education, Argungu, and the College of Basic and Advanced Studies, Yauri, were hitherto scattered and domiciled in different ministries and Boards.”

The commissioner noted that that format hampered synergy among the institutions as well as operation and proper management by the government. “However, with the new Bagudu vision, all Institutions mentioned above and in the State Scholarship Board were fused under the Ministry for Higher Education,” he added.

Prof. Bunza explained that after achieving the consolidation of the institutions, Governor Bagudu began upgrading their statuses for competitiveness and excellent results through appropriate legislations so the institutions could compete favorably within Nigeria and globally.

His words: “Upon His Excellency, Senator Atiku Bagudu’s request, Kebbi State House of Assembly considered the bills seeking to upgrade the state School of Nursing and Midwifery as well School of Health Technology to a College status to make it possible for the institutions to provide the most needed critical middle level training as well as engage in other professional paramedical education.

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“Similarly, the governor’s vision for mass higher education further manifested in making the State College of Education to, for the first time since 1991, award degrees in various fields in Arts, Education, Social Sciences and Science.”

As part of the state government’s efforts at addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage studies in medical and paramedical sciences, Prof. Bunza said Governor Bagudu approved automatic employment of all such category of Kebbi students on a monthly salary of GL 05 after successfully attaining the clinical level (400 level) of their university studies.

The Commissioner went down memory lane to explain what the Senator Atiku Bagudu administration has been doing to ensure stability and progress in the sector, stressing that at inception, the governor made it clear that the state would be the national and international hub of excellence for higher education.

While disclosing that the state government provided support for virtual learning for pupils and students, Prof. Bunza said the mission of his ministry includes, “identifying policy consideration on higher education, specifying the significance thereof, and making recommendation thereon, to the government.

“Facilitating and coordinating the master planning effort and execution of all state policies and progress on higher institutions. To produce the best intellectuals, professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs to deliver innovative solutions to make Kebbi State, the nucleus of skilled manpower in Nigeria.”

Towards ameliorating the demands on parents and guardians and ensure free access to higher education to all and sundry, the Commissioner disclosed that the governor has been providing automatic payment of registration fees for all Kebbi students studying in all institutions in Nigeria.

He remarked that the state scholarship board was restructured and repositioned to integrate technology platform so as to register students online for sponsorship, thereby eliminating irregularities associated with scholarship award.

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“As we speak, from 2016 to 2018, the Atiki Bagudu administration has so far sponsored 103,563 students in Nigeria universities at the total cost of N2, 960, 590, 981.00

“Education is a long-term investment. It is the most veritable and undisputed vehicle that propels and triggers all the evolutions and stages of development, which the world has experienced since antiquity.

“With education, the developed societies continue to progress, and with its neglect, the less developed and undeveloped continue to wallow in abject wants and retrogression,” Prof. Bunza stated. He said it was in the light of this paradigm that Governor Bagudu perceived and initiated the establishment of Ministry for Higher Education.

His words: “In order to provide sound footing for its establishment a committee of experts led by Professor Attahiru Jega was inaugurated. The technical recommendation and report of the committee served as basis for the enactment of law establishing the Ministry, which came into effect on June 6, 2016.

“Since its establishment, the Ministry has been trying to actualize and symbolize the Bagudu concept and foresight in this critical sector and thereby set its goals and objectives based on same principles.”

On lessons learnt from the covid-19 pandemic and what the government plans to do differently, Prof. Bunza said ICT (Information Communication Technology) would receive more impetus.

He said: “Due to the importance of new information technology, as well as entrepreneurship for a viable and practical knowledge in higher education, His Excellency, Senator Atiku Bagudu has directed the Ministry not to be left behind in the globalized IT world.

“With integration of information technology in higher learning and research, both students and staff will build bridges across continents and access resources and data globally for mutual cross-fertilization of ideas, technical cooperation and enhanced productivity.”

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The High Education commissioner noted with relief that as at August 2018, hundreds of sets of computers were installed in tertiary institutions in the state for an IT compliant staff and student.

“The Ministry for Higher Education explored some alternative sources of funding for the state tertiary institution to needed pattern of research and academic endeavors towards self reliance and entrepreneurship.

“In its resolve for innovations and self-reliance the governor facilitated the hosting of a workshop, entrepreneur skills, innovation and sustainable Development, for Kebbi State tertiary institutions.

“The end result is the establishment of entrepreneur centers in all institutions in response to the challenges of economic recovery and growth in zero oil revenue receipts,” the commissioner declared. He disclosed that accreditation by regulatory and professional bodies are ongoing as a continuous exercise in order to ensure compliance with the existing practice regulations and to guarantee quality assurance and control in tertiary institutions.

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In line with that requirement, Prof. Bunza said that 13 out of the 14 programmes being offered at the Kebbi State University of Science and Technology,(KSUST) Aliero, gained full accreditation due to the governor’s moral and financial commitment.

He stated: “Similarly, the results of professional accreditation of the University’s engineering programs by the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), rated three out of four programmes with full accreditation with one as interim.

The Engineering Faculty of the University, was made possible through funds earlier secured by Senator Atiku Bagudu to the tune of N4-5billion, when he was representing Kebbi Central District in the Senate (2011-2015).”

The commissioner remarked that in a bid to fulfill ASUU and other Staff Unions’ agreement of 2009 with the Federal Government, Governor Bagudu directed for the payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) for all the staff (ASUU, SSANU, NASU &NAT) of the Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero in January 2020 to the tune ofN419, 000,000.00.

“This singular act of commitment to tertiary education by the governor placed Kebbi State even ahead of Federal Government, which signed the agreement with the university unions, as well other state governments in the country through settling the allowances by 100 per cent.

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