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12-year-old wins MTN spelling bee

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12-year-old Daniel Nkanu has been announced as the winner of the 2023 edition of the MTN mPulse Spelling Bee competition.

Daniel, a student of Intimacy with Christ International, Nasarawa, won the competition after spelling eight words correctly in a spell-off against 11-year-old Oluwadamilola Adeolu in the finale, which was held at the MTN Head Office in Ikoyi, Lagos State.

The mPulse Spelling Bee Competition aims to encourage academic growth and self-improvement for students in primary and secondary schools between the ages of 9 and 15. It began in August 2023, with participation from over 30,000 students across the country.

Nkanu will assume leadership of MTN Nigeria for a day and become the face of mPulse for a year, a statement said on Tuesday.

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Speaking at the event, the Chief Risk and Compliance Officer, MTN Nigeria, Obiageli Ugboma, congratulated the contestants for making it into the finals.

Ugboma, who reiterated MTN’s commitment to promoting digital literacy in Nigeria, said, “The mPulse Spelling Bee Competition is a platform that empowers young Nigerians to become great spellers, and public speakers and attain their full potential. As the next set of frontrunners from this initiative, we are proud of your brilliance and excited about the impact you will have on other young ones. It is our hope to see you thrive individually and contribute collectively to the growth of Nigeria and the broader African development story.”

Daniel will receive a N2.5m scholarship grant, laptop, smartphone, and an MTN goody bag in addition to being MTN Nigeria’s CEO for a day.

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The spelling bee champion’s school will also receive cutting-edge ICT devices, including 10 laptops and 10 Hynet Modems, while her spelling coach/teacher will receive a cash prize of N500,000.

Sharing his excitement at emerging triumphant, Daniel, beaming with joy, said, “It feels like a dream to me, I am speechless. It was a tough competition, but I am very happy I came this far and won in the end.”

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Alongside Daniel, the first and second runners-up, Oluwadamilola Adeolu and Ajibola Flourish, both from St Lawrence Metropolitan College, Ado Ekiti, and other finalists received prizes totalling over N10m as well as numerous goody bags.

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Education

FG opens student loan application portal May 24

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The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, on Thursday, announced May 24, 2024, as the official date for “the opening of the portal for student loan applications.”

The announcement was made in a statement by the media lead for the NELFund, Nasir Ayantogo.

Ayantogo, in the statement, said the opening of the application portal marked a significant milestone in the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to “fostering accessible and inclusive education for all Nigerian students.”

On June 12, 2023, Tinubu signed the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023 into law to enable indigent students to access interest-free loans for their educational pursuits in any Nigerian tertiary institution.

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The move was in “fulfillment of one of his campaign promises to liberalise funding of education,” a member of the then Presidential Strategy Team, Dele Alake, said.

The Act, popularly known as the Students Loan Law, also established the Nigerian Education Loan Fund to process all loan requests, grants, disbursement, and recovery.

Although the government initially announced that the scheme would be launched in September, it suffered several delays leading to an indefinite postponement in early March.

The Presidency had linked the delay to Tinubu’s directive to expand the scheme to include loans for vocational skills.

After receiving briefing from the NELFund team led by the Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, on January 22, the President had directed the Fund to extend interest-free loans to Nigerian students interested in skill-development programmes.

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Tinubu based his decision on the need for the scheme to accommodate those who may not want to pursue a university education, noting that skill acquisition is as essential as obtaining undergraduate and graduate academic qualifications.

“This is not an exclusive programme. It is catering to all of our young people. Young Nigerians are gifted in different areas.

“This is not only for those who want to be doctors, lawyers, and accountants. It is also for those who aspire to use their skilled and trained hands to build our nation.

“In accordance with this, I have instructed NELFund to explore all opportunities to inculcate skill-development programmes because not everybody wants to go through a full university education,” he had said.

Through the portal, students can now access loans to pursue their academic aspirations without financial constraints.

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The portal, according to the statement, provides a user-friendly interface for students to submit their loan applications conveniently.

“We encourage all eligible students to take advantage of this opportunity to invest in their future and contribute to the growth and development of our nation.

“Students can access the portal on www.nelf.gov.ng to begin application,” the statement said.

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Why ASUU must not go on strike – NUC

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The National Universities Commission says the Federal Government is already working to reconstitute the governing councils of 61 federal universities, so it is not necessary for the Academic Staff Union of Universities to go on strike.

The ASUU had given the Federal Government a two-week ultimatum to put in place the governing councils failing which its members would embark on strike.

But in his reaction, the Executive Secretary of the NUC, Chris Maiyaki, said, the Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, had set up a panel to work on the list of the people who would be on the councils.

He said: “To reconstitute the councils of 61 universities is not a small feat. Government is working to ensure that people that are qualified and with the right pedigree are put in those councils”.

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Maiyaki pleaded with ASUU to be patient as the government was working on the matter.

The Federal Government had dissolved the governing councils of all federal universities on June 22 last year.

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I’m firmly committed to ensuring no child is left out of school –Tinubu

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President Bola Tinubu has reiterated his administration’s commitment to ensuring that no child is left out of school.

He gave the commitment at the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) Nigeria’s campaign launch, “WeAreEqual,” with the theme: “Education as a Powerful Tool for Change: No Girl Left Behind,” hosted by Oluremi Tinubu.

Addressing a distinguished audience of First Ladies from across Africa, government officials and members of the diplomatic corps, President Tinubu highlighted the critical role of education in fostering gender equity and providing equal opportunities for all.

He told the African First Ladies to feel free to ask him of anything that would make it possible for every child to access education, saying, “If there’s anything you want me to contribute, I’m ready and available.” He commended the efforts of African first ladies in advancing gender equality and lauded the initiatives undertaken in various African nations to empower women and girls.

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“I salute the commitment and dedication of the African First Ladies, as members of OAFLAD, to advance gender equality and narrow the gender gap in opportunities and appointments across the African continent.

“This campaign, spearheaded by your excellencies, holds significant importance for us in Africa. I, therefore, congratulate you all. I particularly congratulate my dear wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the First Lady of Nigeria, who has chosen education as a primary tool to champion this campaign nationwide.

“I remember it all started in Lagos. I am aware that this campaign has been successfully launched in 15 other African countries, focusing on health, education, economic empowerment and gender based violence. I am also delighted to learn of all the various initiatives that you have embarked upon in your respective countries. I celebrate you all.”

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The President underscored the importance of creating inclusive educational opportunities for all children, particularly emphasising the significance of supporting the girl child.

He praised the reintroduction of the alternative high school for girls in Nigeria by the First Lady, a programme aimed at offering a second chance for young girls to pursue their education and contribute meaningfully to national development.

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Tinubu emphasised the transformative power of education, citing it as a cornerstone for national progress and prosperity. He called for concerted efforts to eliminate structural inequalities that hinder women’s advancement and stressed the need for policies that promote women’s rights, education, and economic empowerment.

He said: “It is noteworthy that the launch of this laudable campaign in Nigeria came with the reintroduction of the alternative high school for girls by the First Lady. This initiative offers a second chance to young girls who have dropped out of school to further their education and fulfil their dreams and aspirations and become a very important contributor to the development of our nation.

“I am happy to note that the foundation stone of one of the schools was recently laid in Osun State, western Nigeria, by the First Lady. More schools are underway across the country, supported by state governments, and the Federal Government through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), and other development partners. Nigeria’s First Lady, in her remarks, explained that the #WeAreEqual campaign is a year-long, continent-wide initiative, led by OAFLAD. She added that the campaign, which she describes as significant, unites African First Ladies, partners, and allies in their collective effort to advance gender equity and bridge the gender gap throughout the continent.

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Mrs. Tinubu added that the campaign was focused on four main pillars, namely health, gender-based violence, education and economic empowerment, to rally stakeholders and call for action around each of these key issues.

“To promote the “#WeAreEqual” campaign in Nigeria, I have decided to use education as a tool, while also not neglecting other pillars of the campaign, many of which are also being championed under the scope of the Renewed Hope Initiative (RHI), which is led by my office to complement the efforts of the administration of Mr. President.”

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