COVID-19: Nigeria increases higher education research funding by N4.5 bn

Professor Elias Bogoro, TETFUND Executive Secretary

As a result of the challenges posed by the novel Coronavirus in the country, the Nigerian government said it has increased funding for tertiary education research by N4.5 billion for the year 2020.

It reportedly did so based on the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari through the National Research Fund (NRF) domiciled in the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

The funds available for research based activities was increased from N3 billion to 7.5 billion.

TETFund Executive Secretary of the Fund, Suleiman Bogoro, disclosed this at the 2020 TETFund Board of Trustees, BoT, Retreat in Abuja, on Wednesday, noting that the latest approval makes the agency the largest holder of research grants in Nigeria.

TETFund is the federal agency in Nigeria established to particularly support teaching, infrastructure and research in public tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

It draws funding from two percent of all federal taxes annually. recalls that in 2019, N5 billion was approved for the NRF.

Bogoro also disclosed the earlier approval of the establishment of six medical simulation research and clinical training facilities in six colleges of medicine in each geopolitical zone within the year.

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This provides an opportunity for TETFund to see to the establishment of twelve COVID-19 and related infectious disease molecular laboratories, two in each geopolitical zone, making the fund the highest single provider of COVID-19 test centres in Nigeria.

He disclosed that the BoT of TETFund approved over N200 million, to sponsor some COVID-19 research proposals mainly from universities and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

“In addition, the BOT endorsed and was subsequently approved by the President, that six Medical Simulation Research and Clinical Training facilities in six Colleges of Medicine (one in each geopolitical zone) are to be established this year.

“Individually, this provides an opportunity for twelve COVID-19 and related infectious disease Molecular Laboratories to be provided (two in each geopolitical zone), thus making TETFund the highest single provider of COVID-19 test Centres in Nigeria.

“The BOT also approved that TETFund sponsors some COVID-19 Research proposals to the tune of over N200 million, mainly from Universities and NAFDAC, this being one of the reasons TETFund has recently been made the Secretariat for the Nigeria Covid-19 Research Consortium R&D,” he said.

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While laying out the agenda of the fund, the TETFund boss noted that approval has been made from the 2020 budget for TETFund to aggressively commit funds to reverse the embarrassing situation of hostel accommodation in tertiary institutions and make learning environment more attractive for local and foreign students.

According to him, only 15 per cent of Nigerian students were living in hostel accommodation in their institutions.

He said the BoT has directed Management of the agency to make recommendations towards migration of e-learning consistent with global best practice.

Speaking on the achievements of TETFund between 2011 and 2019, the BoT Chairman, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, said the fund constructed 80 auditoriums and lecture theatres in the 223 beneficiary institutions.

Ibrahim-Imam noted that the fund also constructed 500 classrooms, 2,383 administrative and staff offices, 40 fully equipped libraries, 250 science laboratories, 38 ICT centers, 8 medical centers and sick bays, 100 vehicles and major infrastructures in the 12 newly established federal universities.

He said to consolidate on the achievements, the TETFund has made provision in the 2020 budget for emergency special intervention to the University of Abuja and Special high impact projects to six universities, one from each geopolitical zone.

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He further noted that the agency will provide take-off grants to the six newly created Federal polytechnics, one to each geo-political zone, and construction of over 200,000 hostel accommodation in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education to tackle the deficit of accommodation in the institutions.

“We will scale up the provision of fit-for-purpose infrastructure, result-oriented research, and cutting-edge technology to our tertiary institutions. And we will do all these with utmost integrity,” he said.

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