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COVID-19: How NCC mitigates pandemic impact on telecoms operators, subscribers

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NCC VTCP

Nasiru Yusuf

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it has taken actions to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the quality of service delivery by telecommunications networks.

Kano Focus reports that the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Umar Garba Danbatta disclosed this at the 1st Virtual Telecom Consumer Parliament hosted by the commission in Abuja.

Mr Danbatta said the pandemic has caused as much as 800% demand hike in data usage and volume of calls for some operators.

He said that underlines the importance of ensuring quality of service delivery and quality of experience for telecoms consumers.

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He said the NCC in conjunction with the supervising Ministry developed e-platforms to handle all requests from the licensees to ensure that regulatory services are provided to sustain service delivery to subscribers.

He said the NCC also approved and encouraged resource sharing among network operators and secured Right of Passage for all telecommunications companies and suppliers for easy movement during the lockdown.

These measures according to him enabled the operators to service their base stations and ensured seamless services for telecom consumers who increasingly relied on the networks during the pandemic.

The EVC added that the NCC, working with the ministry is resolving the problem of high cost of Right of Way (RoW) with the Nigerian Governors Forum.

“The Commission is hopeful that with the reduction in RoW, which will automatically result in reduction in capital expenditure by the network operators, telecom companies will sooner than later reciprocate the gesture by making their services more affordable to Nigerians,” he said.

Mr Danbatta said regulatory efforts have also resulted in Presidential approval directing security agencies to protect ICT and telecom facilities as critical national assets.

He said this has helped to safeguard telecom infrastructure for the greater role telecom has to play with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Danbatta has strongly charged the service providers to constantly upgrade and expand their network capacity in order to deliver high quality of service to their consumers.

Panel highlights challenges

In his presentation, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu showed the various Quality of Service indicators for the second quarter of the year across the networks and how the consumer Quality of Experience compared with the parameters based on the voice of the consumer survey conducted by the Commission.

Mr Adewolu highlighted the challenges facing operators, which impact negatively on quality of service to include fibre cuts, vandalism and theft of telecommunications site equipment.

A panel session of telecoms operators, who participated virtually in the TCP, was held and moderated by the Director, Consumer Affairs, NCC, Efosa Idehen.

The panel session addressed issues of network capacity upgrade, change in consumer data consumption behavior, implementation of agreed Consumer Complaints and Service Level Agreement (CC/SLA), consumer education as well as general issues around   quality of service and quality of experience by the over 192 million telecom consumers in the country.

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How KaLMA boost learning outcomes in Kano state

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Students in classroom

Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

The Kano Maths and Literacy Accelerator (KaLMA) has boosted learning outcomes in 181 schools across Wudil and Dawakin Tofa local government areas.

KANO FOCUS reports that between January and August 2021, when in-person teaching resumed, the number of primary school children with foundational skills in Hausa and maths grew by 18 per cent, and in English by 11 per cent.

The programme’s impact on lower-level skills was even more significant, rising by 37 per cent in Hausa, 36 per cent in maths, and 39 per cent in English.

Students in classroom

The programme has already reached over 37,000 children and 1,200 teachers. Plans are now in place to extend its impact to 450 schools and 3,000 more teachers in five other government areas of Kano.

Some of the parents said they are impressed with the way they see children from KaLMA implementation schools doing KaLMA activities at home and in the communities.’

They revealed that “Children were not reading in our schools, but they are doing so now in schools with the coming of KaLMA.”

Teacher in classroom

KaLMA is supporting children in Kano state, to build the foundational and language skills they need to succeed.

Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, KaLMA is a partnership between the British Council, Kano State Universal Basic Education Board, the Ministry of Education, Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education, and Teaching at the Right Level Africa.

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Education: Stakeholders begin review of SBMC policy in Kano

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SBMC leaders

Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

Stakeholders in the education sector have commenced the review of Kano State School Based Management Policy (KNSBMP).

KANO FOCUS reports that the review was jointly facilitated by Professors Aisha Abdul Ismail and Suwaiba Ahmad.

The event which was conducted between 16th – 17th May, at Tahir Guest Palace was supported by Partnership for Learning for All in Nigeria (PLANE).

The stakeholders were selected from State ministry of education and its parastatals; state and local government leadership of SBMCs and representatives of Kano State Accountability Forum on Education (K-SAFE).

The two day event was also attended by a one time Permanent Secretary in the state ministry of education Alhaji Danlami Garba.

The workshop reviewed the existing policy to ensure that it is still relevant, effective and aligned with the educational goals and values of Kano state.

The stakeholders have proposed three layer leadership structure for SBMC in Kano consist of school, local government and state executives.

They also proposed the expansion of executives committee to include marginalised groups and security personnel to reflect emerging issues such as safeguarding and gender in schools.

The stakeholders would reconvene to adopt the reviewed SBMC policy after harmonisation of proposed amendments.

The School-Based Management Committee (SBMC) concept emerged in the late 1980s and was subsequently championed by the 1990s-global reform in education which, in turn prompted the institutionalization of the SBMC in Nigeria.

In 2005, the National Council on Education (NCE) at its 52nd session approved that all schools in the country should establish School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) to ensure that communities participate in the school decision-making process.

Kano State in 2010, developed its SBMC policy with the support of the UK-aid/DFID funded-Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) using a participatory approach that involved various stakeholders across the state.

KANO FOCUS reports that PLANE has supported Kano state government in reviewing several education laws and policies including teacher policy, gender policy among others.

 

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How gender stereotyping hampers girl child education in Jemagu town

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

The trauma of not being able to get husbands after higher education has continued to discourage many parents in Jemagu from sending their girls to school, most especially as their boys hardly go beyond secondary school.

KANO FOCUS reports that in Jemagu town Warawa Local Government Area of Kano State, girls hardly go beyond secondary school because they would find it very difficult to marry as their men don’t usually go for those who go beyond that level.

Men in Jemagu believe that girls who go beyond secondary school would have experienced some social life that would make them very difficult to control. Residents said their children’s education, especially the girls, began and ended in Jemagu primary and secondary schools.

Babangida Adamu is among the men in Jemagu who believe that it is not proper to marry a girl who has gone beyond secondary school. He added that girls who acquire higher education would not like to marry men who have no formal education.

Babangida Adamu

“The truth is that any woman who acquired higher education would not like to marry a man with lower education. I will also not marry a girl who has university degree because I do not have a degree. This is why most men will not like to marry girls with higher education,” Adamu said.

A 25-year-old Khadija Muhammad Jemagu, who recently obtained a diploma in Marketing from the Kano State Polytechnic but does not have government job or husband, said she had resorted to helping a non-governmental organisation to promote girl-child education in her community. She believes there is the need to intensify awareness among parents on the importance of girl-child education.

According to Khadija, many people have told her that since she has chosen western education, it would be difficult for any man in her village to come close to her because the men believe that she is wiser than any man that may be willing to marry her since most of them do not have more than secondary education.

“Even before I finished my diploma, many people would go about saying that since my father had chosen to send us to school, they would see who would come and marry us. And for several years I have been living like this because in this our village, no man has ever come to me with marriage proposal, simply because I have a diploma,” she said.

Jemagu primary school

But despite this belief in Jemagu, some girls like Hussaina Muhammad are still trying to obtain a certificate on education, but there is no man within the community willing to marry her at the moment. She, however, insists that her educational ambition is a priority.

But Hussaina believes she can still get a husband within or outside her community provided she becomes well educated. She vowed that insult and discrimination from men within her village would not discourage her ambition.

“After secondary school, I started my National Certificate in Education (NCE) programme here in Warawa, but you know the belief our people. They see us as prostitutes; therefore, no one will come to offer his hand in marriage to us. But I will not be discouraged because I believe that whenever it is time for me to marry, God will definitely bring a husband for me,” she said.

Zainab Makera was able to get married after secondary school. She wants to proceed but is faced with a difficult choice – to further her education or stay with her husband. She said she had been trying to convince her husband to allow her continue but she was told that if she really wanted to continue with her education, she had to get divorced.

Zainab Makera

Meanwhile, few women who were able to convince their husbands to allow them proceed beyond secondary school “are constantly being rejected by community members,” said Hussaina.

According to education authorities in Warawa Local Government, this belief is not the only problem affecting girl-child education in Jemagu.

Lack of commitment by parents, especially mothers, may have worsened the situation over the years.

“There are several reasons why girls don’t go to school frequently; few of them have to do with the attitude of their parents, especially women who often sent their female children for hawking and other domestic works that stop them from attending classes,” said Munnir Muhammad, an education secretary in Warawa.

On the issue of girls not being able to get husbands after attending higher institution at Jemagu, Munnir believes that the problem is not only in Jemagu or Warawa Local Government.

“It is a general societal problem in northern Nigeria, where men, especially those with formal education usually reject women with higher education. Additionally, the government is working with parents-teachers associations, mothers associations and other relevant stakeholders to improve girl-child education in Warawa Local Government.”

Jemagu town, Warawa local government area

Meanwhile, residents said apart from poverty among the local community, lack of awareness by government authorities and poor education infrastructure, the problem of water supply in Jemagu village is forcing many children, especially girls, to skip school because they have to travel long distance to fetch water for the house. But government authorities assured that the problem of water supply in this village would soon be a thing of the past.

While recognising the threat of rejecting girls beyond secondary school as a major problem affecting girl-child education in the area, the caretaker chairman of Warawa Local Government, Lamido Sanusi, acknowledged that the problem of water is another major issue at Jemagu village. He said their ambition was to ensure that every girl-child is educated from primary school to university level without any form of discrimination across all villages and towns of Warawa Local Government.

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