Over the years, the federal government through the TETFund has ensured that funds are disbursed towards revitalising the public tertiary institutions in the country.
TETFund was originally established as Education Trust Fund (ETF) by the Act No 7 of 1993 as amended by Act No 40 of 1998 which has been repealed and replaced with Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act, 2011.
Indeed, the Fund is an intervention agency set up to provide supplementary support to public tertiary institutions with the main objective of using funding alongside project management for the rehabilitation, restoration and consolidation of tertiary education in Nigeria.
The main source of income available to the Fund is the two per cent education tax paid from the profit of companies registered in Nigeria.
Only recently, the Federal Government announced that it has approved N208 billion as part of the 2019 intervention through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) for infrastructural and teacher development in public tertiary institutions.
President Muhammadu Buhari who disclosed this at the 23rd convocation of the University of Abuja, said the intervention was part of his administration’s effort to address the deficiencies in all the segments of the nation’s educational system.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, the president said his administration would continue to provide funding that would address some of the challenges in the nation’s public institutions.
The Fund was established as a result of the deteriorating infrastructure and structure of the country’s education sector, evidenced by poor training, staffing and resources, rapid personnel turnover, unrest in the form of student riots and universities staff strike action combined with falling standards of education, the increase in illiteracy and low-level numeracy which paved the way for negotiations on educational crises in Nigeria in the 1980s.
While presenting a paper at the Institute for Security Studies Bwari, FCT on the topic, TETFund and the Development of Tertiary Education in Nigeria: Strategies, Performance and Challenges, TETFund executive secretary, Prof Elias Bogoro said that for an institution to be a beneficiary of the Fund it has to meet the standard guidelines established by the Board of Trustees of the Fund for enlistment and must be a public tertiary institution owned by either the federal or state government as specified in the Fund’s enabling law.
Bogoro revealed that 215 institutions are beneficiaries of the Fund with 81 Universities, 64 Polytechnics and 70 Colleges of Education (COEs).
The Fund’s intervention areas among others include Physical Infrastructure/Programme Upgrade, Project maintenance, TETFund Scholarship, Teaching Practice for COEs, Equipment Fabrication for Polytechnics, Entrepreneurship for Universities , Journal Publication, Manuscript Development, Conference Attendance, ICT Support, Advocacy , Institution Based Research, National Research Fund and Library Development.
Speaking on the number of interventions that have been carried out by the Fund based on needs of beneficiary institutions, the executive secretary revealed that a total of 24,385 Academic Staff have been trained under the Academic Staff Training and Development (TETFund Scholarship) as at March, 2019.
“Prior to the introduction of this intervention only 40 per cent of academic staff in Nigeria’s Tertiary Institutions had PhD which is the minimum requirement to be a lecturer in a tertiary institution. But today this percentage has risen to nearly 70 per cent due to this intervention,” he said.
Bogoro said that the Conference Attendance intervention program which started in 2010, gave the academic and non academic staff of public tertiary institutions in the country, the opportunity to have first-hand international and local experiences and exposures in their various areas of endeavor as well as interact with their peers across the globe.
He revealed that as at March 2019, 57,564 staff have attended the conferences; 18,721 for Foreign conferences and 38,843 for Local conferences.
He added that TETFund Library Development Intervention was intended to ensure availability of books, periodicals, equipment and other reading resources in the libraries of public tertiary educational institutions with emphasis being placed on e-resources in line.
According to him, as at January 2019, about N16,101,705,355.311 was disbursed to Universities while N10,783,805,000 was disbursed to Polytechnics and N10,268,585,100 to Colleges of Education.
For National Research Fund (NRF), Bogoro revealed that a seed money of N3billion was set aside by the federal government through TETFund to encourage academics undertake cutting edge research for national development in the areas of power and energy, employment and wealth creation.
“Since inception in 2011, 44 Research that was adjudged fundable by a committee of experts had enjoyed funding from TETFund. As at January 2019, a total of N2,170,598,839 has been spent on this intervention. It is important to also note that an additional N1billion had been allocated to the Research Fund making it a total of N4billion for more meaningful impact,” he said.
He also stated that the Institution Based Research (IBR) intervention was aimed at supporting and enhancing basic academic research activities in our public tertiary educational institutions which had been abandoned due to paucity of funds.
He added that under the intervention, TETFund disbursed funds to institutions annually, for funding basic research by lecturers adding that as at January 2019 N4,634,454,957 was disbursed to Universities, N2,426,446,788 to Polytechnics and N2,202,307,811 for Colleges of Education.
“Before the IBR was introduced by the Fund, Academic staff of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions could hardly undertake any research for lack of funding. The case has now been reversed by this intervention,” he said.
He revealed that seven Academic Publishing Centers (APC) were being constructed under through the intervention by the Fund, one per university in each of the six geo-political zones of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to boost book and manuscript production.
“All the Tertiary Educational Institutions within a zone are to have access to the center within their zone for all their publishing needs. Four of APCs have been completed and commissioned for take-off,” he added.
The ES explained that the Academic Manuscript Development (AMB) Intervention was created to enable lecturers develop and produce their academic manuscripts into textbooks through funds made available to the institutions on an annual basis.
According to him, the intervention is aimed at ensuring the production and availability of relevant academic textbooks for teaching and learning in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.
He added that as at January 2019, N423,029,252 have been disbursed to Universities, N505,501,591 to Polytechnics and N372,961,184 to Colleges of Education.
On the National Book Development Fund (BDF) aimed at encouraging the resuscitation and sustenance of scholarly books and journals production, Bogoro revealed that the Fund has dedicated seed money of N2billion grant, which also aimed at encouraging production of local books.
“TETFund has published 31,200 copies of 20 Academic Manuscripts under this program as specialized Academic Textbooks through the University of Ibadan Press,” he added.
Furthermore, he examined that the Professional Association Journals (PAJ) Intervention was an aspect of TETFund Higher Education Book Development Intervention that supports Nigerian based Professional Associations to produce Journals that where abandoned due to fund constraints.
“Under this intervention, a one-off grant of N5million is given to each Professional Association as TETFund support for the development, production and distribution of professional Journals,” he explained.
Bogoro revealed that in 2012, the Teaching Practice Intervention was also introduced by TETFund as a tactical approach to enhance Teaching Practice Supervision and provide funding for procurement of micro teaching equipment for all public Colleges of Education in Nigeria. He added that in 2018, a total of N566,956,500 had been allocated in the intervention.
Bogoro further revealed that another intervention by the Fund was the Academic Research Journals which is aimed at reviving and encouraging the publication of quality academic journals based on research findings conducted by lecturers in public tertiary educational institutions.
“As at January 2019, TETFund has provided funding for Universities, N713,363,593; Polytechnics, N647,300,517 and Colleges of Education, N633,565,985,” he said.
He however added that despite the successes achieved by the Fund, it was confronted with some challenges one of which was constraints of the Fund’s enabling law which limits it from exploring other possibilities of expanding sources of revenue to education tax collections and investments in safe securities.
He added that inconsistencies in Education Tax payments by companies has translated to low tax collections which was also one of the Fund’s major challenge.
“Available data in 2018 confirms that about 2,286,812 companies are registered in Nigeria but only 104,624 Companies have been paying EDT since inception of the Fund,” he said.
He also lamented that the interference by some state governments in the deployment of funds for projects has been a major problem.
Another challenge, Bogoro stated is the low capacity utilization of disbursements by some of the beneficiary institutions.
Among other things, he added that Nigeria’s dependence on oil and gas as its main source of revenue was a great challenge to the Fund; as any drop in price impacts negatively on the EducationTax collections.
He added that the frequency of establishing tertiary public institutions by government at all levels has put enormous pressure on the Fund in the face of dwindling and competitive available resources.
Bogoro also revealed that there was a preponderance for the political establishment of many universities by state governments only to abandon them to their fate or make them rely most exclusively on TETFund and added that the interference of state governments in the procurement processes of TETFund allocations to state tertiary institutions was worrisome and have slowed down project projection.
The TETFund boss also stated that the lack of harmonisation of modalities for granting tax holidays to companies by relevant arms of government has been a major cause for concern and has also posed a challenge for the Fund.
Culled From Leadership Newspaper