Early Childhood and National Development: A Case for Toys, Libraries and Playgrounds

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Augustine Togonu-Bickersteth-Writer

I have read about free school meals being proposed by The Federal Government of Nigeria and I would therefore like to make some comments.

Liberian Soccer star George Weah in a message to the World Food Summit then in Rome was to Say ”More Food in Africa would lead to better football in Europe.” More food would lead to not only “better Football” but also better Literature, better Mathematics, better Engineering and better Medicine because when African Children are well fed not only their bones are well developed for physical activity like sports but their brains are also well formed for academic pursuits.
When the Americans realized that they had been beaten in the Space race by the Russians with the launching of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, then in 1957 they began to take early Childhood Ideas seriously.
We have been out-paced in many races by smaller African countries . Is it not time we began to take early childhood ideas seriously?
Besides free meals for Nigerian Children I would also like to propose, playgrounds, toys and libraries for children as it has been variously put forward by the Adetoun Ogunseye and Biola Odejide led International Board of Books for Young, Nigeria Chapter and and the Mabel Segun founded Children’s Literature Association of Nigeria.
On Play grounds, my Physics Teacher in The Secondary School, Sola Ayangbayi, then at Loyola College Ibadan, used to say: ”If you did not attend a nursery school you could not hope to understand Physics”. This was an an important point he was making. What you find in a playground in nursery school including the Swings, See-Saws Merry Go Rounds, Slides, Rocking Horses and Rocking boats help to develop cognitive function and can be be used to illustrate salient aspects of the foundation discipline of Physics known as Classical mechanics. Classical Mechanics is in a large part about Objects in Motion and it was Isaac Newton who said “Ignorant of Motion: Ignorant of Nature” Infact , I later on saw a documentary produced by the Germans under the title, PHYSICS OF THE PLAY GROUND” It should be noted here that the Germans gave us the word KINDERGARTEN meaning” Children’s Garden” So far no Nigerian President has passed through Kindergarten . They all started from primary school. Maybe Kindergarten should be made compulsory. in Nigeria.
One had to learn German in other to study Physics in its Lingua Franca. It was the German Rocket
Rocket Scientists, led by Wernher Von Braun who helped to land the Americans on the Moon with the Apollo program in 1969. Gottingen in Germany used to be the Mecca of Mathematicians and the German soccer team is known as the “German Machine” because of the prowess of the Germans in designing Machines.
According to Professor Segun Sowunmi, a Mathematician , now late and then Nigeria’s leading exponent of creative thinking, Nigerian Children should be provided with toys, that help them to think in three dimensions.; toys that help cognitive function; this ability to think in three dimensions comes very useful in solving certain Mathematics and Engineering problems like in the design of machines for instance. It was Obafemi Awolowo who said ”One of the badges of poverty is the inability of men to invent and maintain machines”. The Europeans do not grow Cassava but Europeans export Cassava processing machines to Nigeria and as the Engineer and Ex President Olusegun had observed, the Japanese do not eat Pounded Yam but at one time they were exporting pounded Yam Machines to Nigeria. The International Toy Libraries Association(ITLA) also asserts that : “play, playthings and playful interaction are essential to optimal educational, physical, psychological, social and cultural development and well-being.”
As regards Literature for children , a study carried out in the United States showed there is a correlation between the achievement imagery in Children”s books and the quantity of Steel and Electricity produced in the U.S. over a given period. We need books with a Nigerian cum African flavor. Books that would fire the imagination of Nigerian Children .It was Albert Einstein, Physicist and the greatest scientist of the 20th century who said” Imagination is a lot better than Knowledge”
With all that I have stated I hope the Early Childhood experts, Chid Right Advocates, Nutritionists, Educationists and Scientists would step forward so that these Nigerian children would grow up not only to win the World Cup but also to win Nobel prizes and land Nigerian Space crafts on planets and Comets

Imagine: Students in Oyo protest mass failure by setting classrooms on fire(Picture)


Blocks of classrooms were set ablaze in Oyo on Thursday, marking the worst phase of secondary school students’ unrest that began days ago over mass failure in exams.

The classrooms set on fire were at Isale Community High School, Oyo Town. But students elsewhere have threatened to cause similar damage to public property in their schools, teachers told PREMIUM TIMES.

Fire service agents were quickly drafted to the school to extinguish the fire.

Crisis erupted on Monday following mass failure in the last promotion examinations across secondary schools in Oyo State.

The Oyo State Government set a new promotion policy which meant only students with 50 per cent in Mathematics and English language will transit to the next class.

On Monday, students of Anglican secondary school in Oyo unleashed mayhem on their teachers and destroyed billboards bearing Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s picture.

The Commissioner for Education, Adeniyi Olowofela, declined comment on this report, saying he was not comfortable with a telephone interview.

Mr. Olowofela said he would get back but was yet to do so as at the time of this report.

Source: Premium Times

Tourism in Nigeria: Old Oyo National Park “Best of Wildlife Park In Nigeria”

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Old Oyo National Park “Best of Wildlife Park In Nigeria”

As we try to look at the tourism benefits and economic opportunities of this beautiful edifice, we will also take a bite into its historical perspective based on the Old Oyo empire.

Old Oyo National Park is one of the national parks of Nigeria, located across northern Oyo State and southern Kwara State, Nigeria.

The park has total land mass of 2,512 km2 and is located in south west park of Nigeria.


Old Oyo National Park

The location has inevitably placed the park at a vantage position of abundance land area as well as diverse wildlife and cultural/historical settings.

Eleven local government areas out of which ten fall within Oyo State and one in Kwara State surround it.

The Administrative Head Office is located in Oyo, Isokun area along Oyo-Iseyin road, where necessary information and booking could be made.

The landscaping and organized space within the large yard has made the facility very endearing to the public. It is rich in plant and animal resources including buffaloes, bushbuck and a variety of birds.

The park is easily accessible from southwestern and northwestern Nigeria.

The nearest cities and towns adjoining Old Oyo National Park include Saki, Iseyin, Igboho, Sepeteri, Tede and Igbeti which have their own commercial and cultural attractions for tourism.

The park takes its name from Oyo-lle (Old Oyo), the ancient political capital of Oyo Empire of the Yoruba people, and contains the ruins of this city.


Ruins walls of Old Oyo (Photo: Internet)

Oyo Ile was destroyed in the late 18th century by Ilorin and Hausa/Fulani warriors at the culmination of the rebellion of Afonja, commander of Oyo Empire’s provincial army for which he allied himself with Hausa/Fulani Muslim jihadists.

The national park originated in two earlier native administrative forest reserves, Upper Ogun established in 1936 and Oyo-lle established in 1941.

These were converted to game reserves in 1952, then combined and upgraded to the present status of a national park.

The park covers 2,512 km2, mostly of lowland plains at a height of 330 m and 508 m above sea level. The southern part is drained by the Owu, Owe and Ogun Rivers, while the northern sector is drained by the Tessi River.

Outcrops of granite are typical of the north eastern zone of the park, including at Oyo-lle, with caves and rock shelters in the extreme north.

The central part of the park has scattered hills, ridges and rock outcrops that are suitable for mountaineering.

The Ikere Gorge Dam on the Ogun river provides water recreation facilities for tourists.

Flora and Fauna


Old Oyo National Park

The Old Oyo National Park was previously habitat for the endangered West African wild dog (Lycaon pictus manguensis).

However none now exist in the park due to hunting pressure and the expanding human population in the region.

Source: NTA

BVN verification uncovers 10,000 dormant teachers in Oyo State school system


TEN thousand teachers in Oyo State have been discovered to be dormant after a verification by the government.
They were primary school teachers under the state Universal Basic Education Board.
The government embarked on the verification to get an accurate and reliable database.
The result of the exercise, it said, showed that at the primary school level, pupil-teacher ratio is 14 to 1. Whereas optimally, the ratio supposed to be 30 pupils to a teacher.
Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology Prof. Joseph Adeniyi Olowofela, who spoke to reporters yesterday, described the situation as disturbing and retrogressive.
Olowofela said the outcome of the verification confirmed there were more teachers in some classes than necessary.
He insisted there was no going back on restructuring of schools.
“In Oyo State today, we realised that if we are to go by the optimal ratio of 30 pupils to a teacher, over 10,000 teachers will have to be moved to other productive sectors of the economy.
“There are schools with no pupils, yet teachers are assigned to such schools. In most of the schools, we found cases of three teachers per class handling 20 pupils,” he explained.
Allaying fears of a witch-hunt, Olowofela maintained that the Governor Abiola Ajimobi-led administration has no intention to retrench any civil servant, noting that the objective of the exercise is to run an efficient and effective administration.

Source: The Nation

As the economy bites hard, Ajimobi stops funding tertiary institutions


GOVERNOR Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has stopped government subventions to all seven tertiary institutions in the state including the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso which is jointly owned by the state and Osun.

This came as the Osun State of Assembly the plan by the Oyo State government to take over the jointly owned LAUTECH was impossible since Supreme Court had already ruled that the institution remained a joint property of both states.

This was contained in a statement by Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Abimbola Adekanmbi sent to the Vice Chancellor, rectors and provosts of the institutions in the state. The letter which emanated from the office of the Commissioner for Budget and Finance, Secretariat, Ibadan was sent to the institutions last week.

Meanwhile, the chairman, Osun Assembly Education Committee, Folorunso Bamisayemi has said, following a suit instituted against Oyo State government when the Alao-Akala administration first attempted forceful takeover of the institution, the Supreme court on March 22, 2012, had ruled that LAUTECH remained a jointly owned institution.

He accused some elements within Oyo state government of allegedly encouraging criminality and also decried the denial by Oyo state Attorney General of an existing court verdict against the take over plot.

He noted that Osun state government has never played a second fiddle to Oyo in the management of the institution despite the imbalance in the sharing of assets of the institution since its creation 26 years ago.

Source: The Vanguard

VC of University of Ibadan explains reasons for school ranking in the first 1000 in the world

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The Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, UI, Idowu Olayinka, has asked the Federal Government to allocate special funds to the university to improve research and infrastructure.

Mr. Olayinka made the request in the university’s bulletin signed by the Registrar, Olufemi Olukoya, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria.

He said that the special funding will enable the institution to do more to compete favourably with the world’s best universities.

He noted that the latest ranking of universities by Times Higher Education (THE) placed UI among the top 1,000 universities in the world.

UI was ranked 801 in the rankings.

Olayinka described the ranking as a welcome development, noting that it showed that UI was the only Nigerian university that made it among the top 1,000.

He said that the university was blessed with dedicated world class scholars, and urged that Nigeria must engaged them effectively to solve its problems.

“In spite of the underfunding by the Federal Government, the University of Ibadan has finally been ranked among the 1,000 best universities in the world,” he said.

According to him, the latest ranking was based on teaching, research, and citations of scholarly publications, industry income and international outlook.

“The truth of the matter is that the Times Higher Education is one of the elite global ranking bodies.

“It is a thing of joy that we have a respectable position in comparison to peer universities in Africa.

“This is a message to the Federal Government of Nigeria that we need funding to improve our research and infrastructure to enhance productivity.

“We congratulate all faculties, staff and students who have made this feat possible.

“The Federal Government should learn to use research output from the University of Ibadan to solve problems facing the country.

“We cannot have world class scholars in Nigeria and rely on those who have never conducted researches on our problems to come and solve our problems,” he said.


Oyo State wants sole possession of LAUTECH


Oyo State House of Assembly has summoned the state Ministry of Justice and its Education counterpart to appear on Sept. 27 over ownership status of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso.

This followed a motion by Mrs Olawunmi Oladeji (Ogbomoso North/LP) and co-sponsored by nine other lawmakers at the plenary session on Thursday.

The motion was entitled: “Reviewing the Joint Ownership of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology: A Step toward Sole Ownership by Oyo State Government.”

Oladeji said the move would address the critical issues and crisis bedeviling the institution following refusal of Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, co-owner, to fulfill his state’s financial responsibility to the institution.
“Osun State Government has defaulted, particularly in the payment of salaries of the institution’s members of staff for about 15 months.

“This has made it difficult for the smooth-running of LAUTECH,’’ the lawmaker said.

She said that such action has threatened the joint ownership of the institution.

“The Internally Generated Revenue of the institution, which is meant for the payment of gratuity, pension of retirees, as well as other developmental projects within the university, has been depleted.

“This is due to the fact that the money is being used for the payment of workers’ salaries.

“This, calls for the total hand-off of Osun Government from running of the university, and allows the Oyo State Government to take charge of sole and full ownership,” she said.

In his contributions, Adesina (Ibadan South-East I/Accord), said that there was need to resolve the issue of joint ownership of LAUTECH, since Osun has established its university and no longer ready to fund LAUTECH.

Also, the Chairman, House Committee on Parliamentary Matters, Mr Olusegun Ajanaku (Ibadan South-West II/APC), said that the issue of LAUTECH was a national matter.

He said it was an issue that requires more of underground work between the two parties involved.

The lawmaker, therefore, urged people of Ogbomoso to be patient and give rooms for amicable resolution of the issue between the two parties.

In his remarks, Speaker Michael Adeyemo said that the best way to resolve the matter was to know and understand the position of the state Ministry of Justice on the Oct. 23, 2010 Memorandum of Understanding.

Adeyemo urged the state Attorney-General to appear before the Assembly to clear some grey areas over legal actions so far taken by both states in resolving the institution’s persistent crisis.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that cosponsors include: the Deputy Speaker, Mr Musah Abdulwasi (Saki West/APC), and the majority leader, Mr Kehinde Subair (Ibadan South-West I/APC).

They are: Mr Peter Oyetunji (Surulere/Ogo-Oluwa/LP), Mr Akeem Oladipo (Ibadan North West/APC) and Mr Jimoh Akintunde (Ibarapa North & Central/APC).

Other cosponsors are: Mr Afeez Adeleke (Iseyin/Itesiwaju/APC), Mr Fatai Adesina, Ibadan South East I/Accord) and Mr Lukman Balogun (Oorelope/LP).

NAN reports that LAUTECH was established by both Oyo and Osun on April 23, 1990, and has a staff strength of about 3,000.


UI Alumni want to raise bail-out funds for the university


Alumni Association of the University of Ibadan has tasked its members nationwide and in the Diaspora to come to the aid of the institution as it embarks on the construction of a 54-bedroom Post-Graduate hostel to ease problem of students’ accommodation on the campus.

The President of the association, Dr. Kemi Emina told journalists in the Oyo State capital Thursday that the N190million Hostel project, located at the Ajibode end of the campus currently at roofing stage would be completed and formally handed over to the University authorities in November this year during the Convocation ceremonies.

While noting that “the University of Ibadan is worst hit by the economic recession, compared with other tertiary institutions in the country, knowing that UI is top heavy, with most of the infrastructures already ageing”, Dr. Emina observed that government alone cannot single-handedly satisfy the needs of the institution.

“Our target is to build ten of such structures on the University campus in the next ten to fifteen years,” the UI Alumni President said while urging members who are yet to play their part to key into the project without further delay.

He said: “We want the University of Ibadan to remain the first and the best. We are therefore calling on the over 200,000 alumnus of the UI to come to the aid of the University at this critical time of the economic recession which is not only peculiar to Nigeria, but worldwide. If individual alumnus continue to give us N1,000 every year, then we will be making over N1billion a year for the development of the University.”

Dr. Emina who observed that the recession would soon be over, called on government to be focused in its approach towards resolving the economic crisis.

He therefore enjoined citizenry to exercise more patience as government explores ways to ending the hardship.

Source: Daily Trust

University of Ibadan is the only Nigerian University to rank in the top 1000

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The University of Ibadan has secured a spot in the top 978 ranked universities in the world.

In the ranking released by the Times Higher Education, Nigeria’s premier university was ranked 801 on the list.

UI was also the only Nigerian university to make the list.

Earlier in 2016, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (AWRU) and the Center for World Universities Ranking (CWUR) released a list of the top 500 and 1000 world universities respectively and no Nigerian university was on the list.

The university of Ibadan has secured a spot in the top 978 ranked universities in the world.

In the ranking released by the Times Higher Education, Nigeria’s premier university was ranked 801 on the list.

UI was also the only Nigerian university to make the list.

Earlier in 2016, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (AWRU) and the Center for World Universities Ranking (CWUR) released a list of the top 500 and 1000 world universities respectively and no Nigerian university was on the list.

Source: The Cable

Bomb scare at University of Ibadan

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There was tension in the University of Ibadan on Friday as a threatening message that purportedly emanated from a group, al-wilayat al-Islamiyya Gharb Afriqiyyah, was circulated among some staff of the institution and on social media platforms.

According to the message, the group threatened to bomb the school before Independence Day on October 1, 2016, saying that students and staff were their targets.

When contacted, The Director of Communication, UI, Olatunji Oladejo, dismissed the threat, saying it was the handiwork of mischievous individuals who wanted to cause commotion in the school.

Our correspondent gathered that while some lecturers got the mail through their institutional e-mail addresses, others were copied through social platforms such as Whatsapp.

In the mail, the group described the university as an embarrassment to Nigeria for bringing western education.

It was observed that security arrangement was strengthened at the school gates with scanning devices deployed while stop and search was conducted on everyone entering the school, leading to a gridlock.

The letter read in part, “You people are an embarrassment to Nigeria and are the people that brought in western education to Nigeria. You doomed this nation and in turn you all are going to be doomed. Most of you are going to die before Independence Day. You will not spend the Independence Day in peace, you and your students.

“Detonation will start going from tomorrow till Independence Day and there is nothing you can do as we are among you. Even your little searches at the gate won’t do anything. By the time we are through with you, your government will be sorry.”

Speaking on the alleged threat, Oladejo said like others, he also received the letter, while saying that it had not affected the peace of the school.

He said, “I also got it. Anyone could instigate such thing. Some people could be mischievous. Our international students are having their carnival on the campus and everywhere is peaceful. I attribute it to the handiwork of mischievous individuals and vehemently deny any commotion.”

Police Public Relations Officer of the state police command, Adekunle Ajisebutu, told our correspondent that the command had received information on the threat to lives and property on the campus and had responded appropriately.

He said, “We have received the information. The state Commissioner of Police, Samuel Adegbuyi, working in concert with the other security agencies, has put in place all necessary security arrangement to forestall such an ugly incident.

“We have deployed our intelligence officers to provide adequate security in the school. As it is, it is still a rumour but we don’t want to take things for granted and because of this, we have provided adequate security, not only for the school, but for the people of the state.

“We enjoin members of the public to go about their lawful businesses and to be law-abiding.”