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Five writing rules that are really guidelines

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If you go in search of rules about writing, you’ll find plenty. Some rules you come across will be quite specific, like whether or not to use a comma with a conjunction, and others will be broad, like Strunk and White’s brief but vague directive to “omit needless words.” But when it comes to great writing, not all rules are created equal. In fact, some rules are really more like guidelines. Here are five pieces of good writing advice that you can and should ignore once in a while.

Use the active voice

If you’ve done even a moment’s research on how to write well, you’ve learned that you should use the active voice instead of the passive voice. It’s solid advice, if you treat it as a guideline. In general, the active voice is more direct and concise. It’s the best choice for most sentences. But there are some things that the passive voice can do better.

For example, sometimes it just isn’t important or helpful to specify who performed the action you’re talking about. Here’s an example where the passive voice is the better choice: This house was built in 1960. Rewriting the sentence in the active voice would not only require you to dig up information you may not have, it would also bog down the sentence with an unnecessary detail. A development company built this house in 1960. Does it really matter who built the house? Probably not, unless someone has specifically asked for that information.

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Avoid adverbs

Adverbs get a bad rap because it’s so easy for writers to rely on them to pad out a sentence full of bland verbs. “Don’t write ran quickly,” goes the classic advice. “Write sprinted instead.” It’s true that sprinted is more precise and interesting than ran quickly.

But in some cases, a well-chosen adverb is the clearest, most concise way to add detail and dimension to a description. Visualize this scene: I started to ask a question, but she motioned for silence. Now picture this one: I started to ask a question, but she frantically motioned for silence. Different, right? A blanket ban on adverbs removes an important tool from a writer’s toolkit.

Avoid exclamation points

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that using an exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke. Maybe that’s true in some situations. After all, when you need to make an important point in an essay or you’re trying to add excitement to your novel, you can’t just rely on punctuation marks.

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But now that most of our remote communication takes the form of texts, emails, and instant messages, exclamation points have emerged as an important tool for conveying tone. If you want to risk sounding sarcastic, go ahead and write Congratulations on your new job. How wonderful.

Don’t write in sentence fragments

If you were taught that a sentence fragment is a grammatical error, you’re not alone. But the truth is, sentence fragments are an important technique for creating voice and tone in your writing.

Not convinced? There are a few of them sprinkled throughout this article. There’s one in this very paragraph, in fact! They help lend a casual, friendly tone to a piece of writing. The trick is to avoid going overboard. Too many fragments will make your writing choppy and confusing. And of course, sentence fragments that show up in the wrong context—say, a term paper or a formal business document—can come across as sloppy or too informal.

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A paragraph needs at least three sentences

There are a lot of variations of this “rule” floating around out there. In school, many of us learned that a paragraph requires a topic sentence, several supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence. When you’re first learning to organize your thoughts on paper, this formal structure gives you a tried-and-true template to follow. But as your writing skills grow, staying chained to this rule will limit your ability to write effectively.

Particularly when you’re writing online, short paragraphs of just one or two sentences are often the best way to help your reader absorb your point quickly.

Remember, to be a good writer, you need to learn the rules of writing. But to be a great writer, you also need to learn when to break those rules. The most important thing to remember is that writing is about communicating. When a rule gets in the way of what you need to say, sometimes the best decision is to toss that rule out the window—temporarily, at least!

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Lagos to recruit 2,000 teachers

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The Lagos State Government has concluded plans to employ no fewer than 2,000 more teachers in its public primary schools.

Speaking on behalf of the state government, the state Commissioner for Education, Folashade Adefisayo during an online show, Covinspiration show, moderated by a United Nations (UN) Youth Ambassador, Dayo Isreal, while giving scorecard of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration within the 360 days, said the move to employ more teachers was aimed at the standard of public primary school education in the state.

She lamented that the pandemic has held the ministry of education back in the completion of its plans for the sector.

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According to Adefisayo:

“The administration after assumption of office decided to address the challenges in education aggressively in 2020 but the pandemic which country’s index case happened in Lagos has halted various plans for education in the state.”

She stressed that administration went back to the drawing as soon as President Muhammadu Buhari lifted the lockdown earlier imposed on Lagos and other states so as to fast track completion of 2020 plans which includes recruitment of teachers.

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Adefisayo said,

‘The most important aspect of learning is the quality of teachers and we did not have enough teachers to actualize the set plan for learning in our public schools.

“And one of the earliest things we requested for and was granted by the governor was the recruitment of teachers.

“We have concluded the recruitment of 1,000 secondary school teachers. And we are currently working on the recruitment of 2,000 teachers for public primary schools.

“And we are looking at employing teachers every quarter because the rate of retirement of teachers is very high in Lagos.

“The administration has granted the ministry permission to replace retired teachers.

“Aside from recruitment, we have sent a lot on the training of current teachers to improve their teaching skills in classrooms. And this COVID-19 period was the time when we were able to do a lot of things in the education sector of Lagos state,” she added.

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Kaduna govt. will jail parents who enroll children into Almajiri system – El-Rufai

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Gov. Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State has warned that parents who enroll their children in the Almajiri education system stand the risk of prosecution and up to two years jail.

El-Rufa’i stated this in Kaduna on Monday when he visited some 200 Almajiri children repatriated from Nasarawa State and undergoing rehabilitation and optical screening at Government College, Kurmin Mashi, Kaduna.

Almajiri are children enrolled to be taught Islamic knowledge under Islamic Clerics, but who loiter on the streets with bowls begging for alms and food.

The governor also said that any Islamic cleric who enrolls any child into the Almajiri system would also be prosecuted and jailed as well as fined N100,000 or N200,000 per child.

He said that all the Almajiri pupils repatriated from other states of the country were indigenes of the state adding that the government would give them all the opportunity they deserved to grow and develop.

El-Rufai expressed satisfaction with the ongoing transformation of the Almajiri pupils from hopelessness to hope and confidence.

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According to him, the state has a responsibility to do whatever it can to give them hope and a better future.

“We will, therefore, continue to take delivery of every Almajiri pupil indigenous to Kaduna state for rehabilitation, treatment and enrollment into formal school nearest to where their parents live.

“We will continue to do this until we clear Kaduna state of the menace of Almajiri system, which is not education but the abuse of the privilege and future of a child.

“Our ultimate goal is for them to acquire formal education without depriving them of the opportunity to acquire Quranic education.

“They will continue their Quranic education but under the care of their parents and not under someone who does not know them or paid to look after them.”

He explained that the Ministry of Human Services and Social Development (MHSSD), along with UNICEF would closely monitor them and ensure that no child would leave his locality until he finished primary and junior secondary school.

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The governor stressed that every child in Kaduna state must get 12-year free and compulsory primary and secondary school education.

“Those that cannot proceed to senior secondary school will have the opportunity to go to vocational school, also free.

“As such, no parent has any excuse for his child not to go to school,” El-Rufa’i said.

He thanked MHSSD and other state agencies for the commitment and passion for the welfare of the children.

He equally thanked AMA foundation and other NGOs and civil societies for supporting the government to provide the Almajiri pupils with the needed medical care, food, and clothing, among others.

The governor particularly appreciated UNICEF for supporting the state government in ensuring that all the repatriated children were well documented.

El-Rufa’i said that the care and support provided had restored the sense of dignity of the children.

Also speaking, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, Commissioner, MHSSD, said that the state had so far received more than 900 Almajiri pupils from Kano, Bauchi, Plateau and Nasarawa states.

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Baba said that no fewer than 500 of them were rehabilitated, treated (those who tested positive to COVID-19), and reunited with their families.

She added some 400 others were still undergoing rehabilitation and would soon be reunited with their families.

On his part, Dr. Zakari Adam, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna, commended Kaduna state government for the efforts to ensure that all children go to school as against begging in the streets.

Adam reiterated UNICEF’s continued support to the state in all children-related issues such as child protection, education, and health among other areas, for uninterrupted growth and development of every child.

He stressed the need for all stakeholders, the government, civil society, parents, communities, religious and traditional leaders and the media to work together in ensuring that children acquired quality education.

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Nigerian, 24, bags PhD in Law from George Washington University

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A Nigerian, Dr Damilola Arowolaju, has bagged a PhD in Law from The George Washington University, Washington DC, United States of America.

Damilola, who hails from Omuo Ekiti, in Ekiti East Local Government area of Ekiti State is the son of a former Special Adviser to Governor Segun Oni on Due Process, Dr Bayo Arowolaju

He was decorated with the honour at the university’s virtual convocation ceremonies held on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

Damilola was also the President of the 2020 PhD graduating students, which further made his honour more grandiose.

The former Special Adviser who confirmed this to journalists in Ado Ekiti on Saturday was elated that his son could be decorated with such a high academic honour at the age he secured admission to the University of Lagos, where he studied Sociology.

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He said:

“My baby, Dr. Damilola Arowolaju, with the grace of God just graduated with a PhD in Law from The George Washington University School of Law, Washington DC, USA.

“He gave an address to the fellow graduands as the President of the GW Bar Association. Graciously, he did this at 24 years of age, when I was just entering the University in Nigeria for my first degree. May our children be higher and be more successful than us all. Amen

“I am overwhelmed, speechless and flabbergasted by this outstanding feat. I am excited and more motivated to do more to uplift humanity”.

Arowolaju appealed to the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to rejig and expand the scope of the State’s scholarship board to be able to benefit the children of the poor, who are outstanding in their academics.

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In a video clip containing his speech to the graduand, Damilola said he shall continue to promote justice for all manners of men, irrespective of creed, race and class.

The young academic added that no sacrifice is too much to make to protect human rights and promote self-respect among humanity, describing these as the best way to entrench equality in the system.

“Justice means making huge sacrifices that would guarantee all constitutional freedoms for all and sundry.

“When I say justice, I mean for both innocent and guilts. The one that brings equality, stability and raise the hope for a better society. That is what we should all pursue using morality and the instrumentality of Law.

“My graduation today was a result of the sacrifices made by my parents to ensure that I excel in my academic pursuit”, he said.

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