For a greater understanding between the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and benefitting institutions in Nigeria, the Executive Secretary of the Fund, Arc Sonny Echono on Tuesday, held a one-day meeting with heads of institutions.
The meeting had in attendance, Vice-Chancellors, Provosts and Rectors of public institutions across the country that benefit from TETFund’s intervention.
The meeting focused on a number of concerns by the Fund in delivering its mandate as enshrined in the Act establishing it. It was also to look into the issue of research, which Echono felt has not received significant attention.
Consequently, the forum served to discuss and consider new strategies towards achieving greater impact on various Research and Development interventions. Other areas of deliberations also included promotion of innovations, entrepreneurship and employability of graduates of the nation’s tertiary institutions.
Welcoming his quests to the meeting, Echono applauded their support and commitment to on-going reforms in tertiary education system. He stated that the encouraging response to his invitation despite their busy schedules underscored their zeal towards a more responsive TETFund to the needs and aspirations of the nation’s tertiary education system.
His speech read in part: “As earlier communicated, our agenda for today will focus on a number of concerns by the Fund in delivering its mandate as enshrined in the Act. We are also for the first time, adopting the bottom-up approach to the budgeting process for the Year 2023 intervention cycle.
“As beneficiaries and institutions that execute the intervention lines, we will appreciate your inputs and suggestions for better delivery of the intervention budget. We shall at this meeting, also receive feedback from you on the Fund’s project implementation in your institutions.
“Another area of concern to the TETFund is the Research intervention line. From available data, the nation is yet to benefit significantly from the desired impact of this intervention line. We shall therefore be considering new pathways to achieving greater impact on our various Research and Development interventions.
“Other areas of deliberations will be promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and employability of graduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions, feedback on the TETFund Skill G intervention project from inception till date, and a brief presentation by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) on the procurement processes to facilitate speedy and seamless implementation of projects as chief accounting officers, amongst others.
“Each topic will be anchored by identified players in those specific area of discussion, which we believe will spur robust interaction and actionable ideas for greater results.”
As an intervention agency, Echono maintained that TETFund has remained consistent in its drive and strive for excellence through the employment of practical means and solutions towards repositioning and revitalizing the nation’s tertiary education system for the future generations of Nigerians.
“We are improving global competitiveness and visibility through our capacity building programmes at various levels and different areas of national interest. We are forging partnerships both locally and internationally for better access to quality resources and services. These partnerships have yielded some levels of benefits for our TETFund Scholarship for Academic Staff intervention (TSAS).
We have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with some foreign institutions that offer free tuitions and other incentives to our scholars who qualify for such benefits. We are making efforts to expand these partnerships and MOU’s to other critical areas such as research and innovation, agriculture, engineering and ICT.
“The focus of the Year 2022 zonal intervention on improving and expanding our ICT capabilities is in recognition of the fact that the world has gone digital in practically all areas of human endeavors. We must therefore take deliberate steps to catch up with the rest of the world in the ICT space for needed national development.
At the Fund, we are reviewing our processes for enhanced and better services delivery to our beneficiary institution. We are currently re-working our 2007 edition of Guidelines for Disbursement and will make it available to you when competed.”
Echono informed his guests that the Fund has equally done some internal auditing of its staff to achieve better efficiency in the deployment to its various departments. He therefore urged heads of benefiting institutions to do the same with respect to TETFund Desk Officers, noting that such measures will place the Fund in a better position to efficiently discharge its mandate.
On their part, the Vice-Chancellors, Provosts and Rectors appealed to TETFund to work with relevant government agencies in addressing some of the challenges confronting lecturer.
They particularly decried loss of eight months’ salaries by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as a result of the prolonged industrial action, stating that the development was unhealthy for the system.
They also tasked TETFund to intervene in resolving the Foreign Exchange challenge faced by Nigerian students abroad, by engaging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).