TETFund as Incredible Support System to Nigeria’s Tertiary Education, by Rahma Oladosu
We must give it to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund. The federal government agency’s establishment appears to be one of the best things that have happened to our tertiary education sector, in recent years.
Established on May 20, 2011, the foremost intervention agency for Nigeria’s tertiary education sub-sector, has consistently, and assiduously come to the aid of ‘ailing’ universities, polytechnics and Colleges of Education, CoEs.
TETFund has provided and is still providing funds for infrastructural development across Nigerian higher institutions, since it was birthed over a decade ago. The agency, through its disbursement of annual research grants to Nigerian academics, boosted research activities in our universities, and polytechnics in particular.
In virtually all the public higher institutions in our land, projects such as hostels, lecture theatres, laboratories, and even Senate Buildings, among others, executed by TETFund are impressive sights to behold.
However, let it be known that the efforts of TETFund towards enhancing infrastructural growth and human capital development in Nigeria higher institutions are tremendously being catalyzed by the Education Tax Fund – whose percentage has remained paltry for years now. A debate has therefore ensued on the need to adjust it upwards.
But amid the limitation of funds, it is heartwarming to know that TETFund, within the first 10 months of this year, has already inaugurated numerous capital projects across federal and state-owned universities, polytechnics and CoEs.
Just recently, the yield of TETFund’s intervention at the JS Tarka University of Agriculture in Makurdi, Benue State, were harvested as President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated some infrastructural projects bankrolled by the fund. The projects, worth N8 billion, include a one laboratory/workshop block for entrepreneurship development centre; a one female hostel; one male hostel, and academic office building for College of Agronomy.
The President, represented by the Chairman, House Committee on Tertiary Education, Hon. Aminu Suleiman Goro, said the event was not only significant in the history of the university, but also provided more opportunities for the reengineering of the state in the areas of vocational and entrepreneurship skills.
He said: “Education, as we all know, plays a pivotal role in the socioeconomic development of any nation; there is no doubt therefore, that the inauguration of these TETFund-sponsored projects in this institution would not only enhance teaching and learning, but also contribute to improvement of academic standards.
“Let me reiterate that this administration sees education as a key aspect of growth and development, and that is why it forms an integral part of the administration’s agenda, with the federal government investing heavily over the past years in education at all levels.
“We believe that education should liberate society, help to fight poverty, defeat unemployment and engender industry. I am glad to note that Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University in Makurdi is being propelled along this line.”
He added that TETFUND has performed exceedingly well in the provision of infrastructure, academic staff development, book publication, research and development among others.
“The Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi in Benue State has not been exempted from these intervention efforts of TETFund as over 40 impactful projects worth over N8 billion have been executed in the university since 1999.
“In addition, the Fund has sponsored 197 lecturers from this university for doctoral degrees; 85 for master degrees and 13 scholars on bench work to the tune of over N1.7 billion, while 430 staff have been sponsored for conferences at the cost of over N200 million,” he said.
Inaugurating the projects located on the main campus of the university, the Benue State Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom, commended TETFUND for the projects as well as all the interventions done in the states owned institutions.
Ortom, who was represented by the state Commissioner of Education, Dr. Sarwuan Ternongu, said: “The framers of the TETFUND laws should be commended because they have brought so much development to public tertiary institutions in the country. We commend TETFUND for these projects and all the ones executed in all our state-owned institutions. We encourage them to continue to do more.”
The Executive Secretary of TETFUND, Sonny Echono, on his part, said the projects were executed through the 2015/2018 merged normal intervention funds.
Echono added that TETFUND has many other projects lined up for inauguration in about 12 different locations across the country. Indeed, by the time these projects Echono is making reference to are all inaugurated, teaching and research activities would be adequately enhanced in the recipient institutions.
TETFund has over years shown an abiding commitment towards addressing the issue of infrastructural deficit in our higher institutions. If the agency is empowered with more resources by a way of percentage increase in the education tax, they will definitely add more value to the capacity of our higher institutions to churn out world class graduates.
Rahma Olamide Oladosu is a Staff Writer with the Economic Confidential