The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) with a clear mission to earmark Nigeria’s public tertiary education through funding and effective project management, has continued to take the lead in its intervention of the most pressing demands and needs of the institutions. In this report, DUSTAN AGHEDO takes a look at the recent impact traversed by the agency across the institutions of learning in Lagos and the whole of Southwest, among others.
Unarguably, TETFund has been the saving grace and best thing to have happened to beneficiary institutions and stakeholders following the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari in ensuring that the education sector is given top priority under his administration. He has been giving untiring support to the Fund with efforts channelled towards restoring, rehabilitating and consolidating on the educational activities in Nigeria’s tertiary educational institutions.
This is as higher institutions heads attest that without TETFund, the tertiary education would have been bedeviled with lack of innovative research, infrastructure inadequacy, poor state of lecture theatres, poor state of staff offices and unequipped laboratories, among others.
A Veritable Source of Interventions
Last week, tertiary school heads, stakeholders, students and other beneficiary institutions during an interactive session in Lagos with TETFund Board of Trustees in collaboration with the members of Technical Advisory Group Committee while applauding TETFund also appealed for more funding to do more so as to be among the leagues of household names in Africa and the globe.
They noted that TETFund has become the country’s veritable source of assured funds for desired interventions at the tertiary level of education. TETFund’s efforts was lauded by the schools’ management during the board’s recent visit to Lagos state as part of an evaluation tour and inspection of sponsored projects across universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in the country, which was monitored by LEADERSHIP.
TETFund Visitation To Higher Institutions
The chairman, TETFund board, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Imam leading the Board of Trustees’ visitation to Lagos was received by management of the institutions including University of Lagos (UNILAG) led by the acting vice chancellor, Prof Folasade Ogunsola; Lagos State University (LASU) led by the VC, Prof Olanrewaju Fagbohun, and Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) welcomed by the rector, Engr. Obafemi Omokungbe represented by the deputy rector (Academics), Dr. Kehinde Osifala.
The board chairman of TETFund prioritised the University of Lagos as next in line to get funds in the area of critical infrastructure after University of Abuja. He acknowledged Lagos State University as his greatest testimony that TETFund was performing among campuses visited over the institution’s judicious utilisation of funds from the agency.
He disclosed that TETFundd has already visited University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) and committed to the infrastructural upgrades of Yaba College of Technology, among others.
Creation of Academic Publishing Centres
In line with the board’s visit and consonance with the mandate of the agency to disburse funds for the general improvement of education in federal and state tertiary educations specifically for the provision/maintenance of institutional material and equipment, research and publications, TETFund intervened in the area of Higher Education Book Development when it introduced the Academic Publishing Centres in seven states institutions, with one for each geopolitical zone and the FCT.
This is an effort to provide improved quality of education through provision of standard publishing facilities within the country, with hope that it will enhance the production of quality books, journals, monographs, and other specialised reading materials as well as facilitating e-publishing of books and journals.
LEADERSHIP learnt that prior to initiative of the Academic Publishing Centre by TETFund in April 2012, the nation’s tertiary education institutions were experiencing scarcity of indigenously produced tertiary level textbooks and related academic publications. To combat this trend, LEADERSHIP gathered that the book development fund intervention was created by the Fund with the aim of restoring the culture of research and high quality academic publishing within the higher education subsector.
Among the primary objectives of the higher education book development project as stated by the Board BoT chairman was to design, construct and equip model Academic Publishing Centres (APCs) in the selected institutions and linking their activities and services to other public tertiary institutions within that geopolitical zone to serve as publishers for academic textbooks. The establishment and sustainability of the Academic Publishing Centres was among agenda for the board’s visitation to the Lagos state tertiary institutions.
Consequently, the University of Lagos was bestowed with the honour of having the Academic Publishing Centre for the Southwest geopolitical zone located in the campus. Other Academic Publishing Centres located in their respective campuses are Modibbo Adama University of Technology in Yola for the Northeast tertiary institutions; Federal University of Technology in Minna for the Northcentral institutions; Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto for Northwest; Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka for Southeast; University of Calabar for the South- south tertiary schools, and the University of Abuja for the Federal Capital Territory.
Funding and Sustaining the Centres
Speaking during the deliberation on the best way of operating, managing and sustaining the academic publishing centre in UNILAG, Ibrahim-Imam craved the cooperation of the management, beneficiary institutions and other stakeholders for the successful take-off of the Academic Publishing Centre in the school.
He explained that the federal government through TETFund approved an additional N2.95 billion in 2019 to the initial N2 billion to actualize the project of the higher education book development, where Technical Advisory Group Committee was reinvigorated and inaugurated in August, 2019 to advise the board on all matters relating to book development in Nigeria through the Book Development Committee.
Also, the executive secretary of TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro in his address during the Board of Trustees engagement with the beneficiary institutions of the APC in southwest geopolitical zone held at UNILAG, stressing on the importance of establishing the academic publishing centre, said that an indigenous book industry was needed to provide opportunities for the nation’s writers, thinkers and artists following the scarcity of tertiary level texts in Nigeria that has reached a crisis proportion as evident not only in the quality of books available but also in the quantity of books produced locally.
Bogoro added that the Fund in the last two years, has given more attention to research, publication and acquisition of instructional materials all in a bid to institutionalise research and development for national development and improve the global ranking of Nigeria tertiary institutions.
N277bn Funding for 226 Higher Institutions
Commenting on ways to reposition the tertiary institutions in Lagos state among the other institutions, the TETFund board chairman said that TETFund would be budgeting N277 billion for the 226 institutions in the country for 2021 having exhausted its N250 billion budget for 2020. He disclosed this while speaking with journalists during the board’s interactive session and inspection of the Fund’s sponsored projects at the Lagos State University, LASU.
Ibrahim-Imam said, “Although, the target for next year is about N277 billion, we would be reserving a portion of that for a rainy day considering the fact that we are making provisions for 226 institutions including universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, where N1 billion can just barely go round per institution, not forgetting that there are special areas of concentration in the different institutions.”
The BOT chairman who was received by the vice-chancellor of the Lagos State University, Olanrewaju Fagbohun, expressed the board’s desire to do more for the institution saying that the state university was the best testimony of TETFund’s impact thus far, following the testimony and satisfactory utilisation of the funds/grants and as such, it will intervene in the institution’s focus on e-learning, centre for entrepreneurship, pushing innovative research as the frontier project, among others.
While speaking to newsmen at the University of Lagos on further ways to reposition the federal university and other tertiary levels of the southwest and the country in its infrastructure and research, Ibrahim-Imam noted that N1 billion will be committed to key institutions across the tertiary levels, adding that UNILAG will be next in line come next year to get the N7.5 billion annual grant having been increased by the federal government and approved from N5 billion for critical infrastructure.
“Also, University of Lagos is our priority as it is one of the 12 Centres of Excellence spread across the country where each of these centres will focus on different research areas. For UNILAG, it is biodiversity, conservation and ecosystem management. Therefore, for this purpose also, TETFund will be making available to the institution N1 billion. Then, another N1 billion to the Neurology and the Kidney Centre. And of course, the project I am very passionate about, e-learning, we will disburse funds for these projects,” he said.
Ibrahim-Imam opined that the Fund has consistently been discharging its obligations to its beneficiaries and stakeholders with integrity, transparency and in total compliance with the extant rules and regulations issued from time to time by the federal government.
“It is in recognition of this fact that most of the stakeholders have adjudged TETFund programmes and activities as the most robust and imaginative intervention. It is the first of its kind in the history of our country,” he said.
Completing their visit to Lagos with a final stop to Yabatech, Ibrahim-Imam told LEADERSHIP that, having listened to the management and seen things for itself in the institutions visited, it is indeed a testimony that this government of the President Muhammadu Buhari is working, as TETFund is just one of several government agencies that is achieving desired results very quietly.
Collaborations with Private Sector
He said the testimonies gotten shows that TETFund is doing something right. On that note, it is encouraged to do more and is committed to doing more including commitment to the infrastructure upgrades in Yaba College of Technology. As part of the Fund’s programme intervention for 2021, TETFund will form collaboration with private investors and management of key tertiary institutions across Nigeria to build 2,000 bed space accommodation for students, starting with the first generation universities, amongst which include the University of Lagos.
Ibrahim-Imam however, stressed that TETFund provides intervention funds to beneficiary institutions from universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education based on societal needs, merits and ability to deliver for genuine societal development.
Furthermore to TETFund’s key budget allocation to educational infrastructure and innovative research, Ibrahim-Imam said, the education system of a country is very strategic and germane for overall development of any nation, hence should be given top priority over every other sectors. “I wish to assure you that TETFund will continue to deliver responsive intervention programmes and will be at the forefront of promoting creative and innovative approaches to educational learning and championing new literacy enhancing areas,” he added.