TETFund boss laments education sector crisis

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Professor Elias Bogoro, TETFUND Executive Secretary
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The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Professor Suleiman Bogoro, has lamented the unending crisis in the education sector in Nigeria.

He noted that the crisis being witnessed cuts across all levels from primary through secondary and tertiary levels of learning.

He spoke during the 13th thematic meeting of the TETFund Research and Development Standing Committee, RDSC, on Education, which was held virtually on Wednesday.

Bogoro commended the Federal Government for its promise to progressively increase the education budget to fund research and drive global competitiveness in the country.

He further lauded the Federal Government for recent steps on the professionalization of teaching and the announcement of special allowances for teachers, among other incentives.

Bogoro noted that the government’s recent pronouncement is one way that recognises basic education as the foundation.

“The retirement age of our teachers has been moved from 60 to 65. I think this is very encouraging for teachers. Of course, I mentioned earlier that those in the sciences will have better emoluments attached to their allowances.

“Government has announced its intention from the budget year of 2022 to raise education budget by 50 per cent and scale it up and gradually double it to 100 per cent by the year 2025.

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“To me, that was something that was not immediately expected or anticipated but the government has made the pronouncement. So I imagine that the 2022 budget will reflect that 50 per cent increase,” he said.

Speaking further, the TETFund boss said he looks forward to a situation where some of the areas that have suffered from inadequate funding from the appropriation window will be taken care of, with the added increase, including the funds that will be made available to institutions.

He said the funds would help in increasing the funding made available through appropriation for even personnel and that the capital allocation made to public universities, polytechnics and colleges of Education will also increase.

“In Nigeria for instance, there is no doubt, the facts are there that the South-West zone has a comparative advantage over the other five geopolitical zones because of their consistent and massive investment in education starting from the time of late Obafemi Awolowo, with free education from the foundation upwards,” he said.

The TETFund boss also disclosed that the draft law for the establishment of the National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) has been submitted to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, for inputs before transmission to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval and onward submission to the National Assembly.

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In his presentation, immediate Past President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, stressed that education remains the bedrock for every knowledge-based economy and sustainable national development.

Ogunyemi who was the lead presenter insisted that education must inter-phase with other sectors of the economy and national life, adding that an integrated policy framework was needed to bind all the various sectors together for sustainable development to occur.

According to him, education, research and development were cross-cutting issues for national development, even as he added that there was a need for the government to transform tertiary education in the country to allow for an inbuilt research and development ecosystem.

He said, “Setting Nigeria’s research agenda under the context of R&D involves transitioning from research for publication to enabling problem-solving research, increasing thought-out of human power, strengthening of IP regulations, technology transfer and commercialisation in that sequence before industrialisation.

Ogunyemi further recommended a service-learning approach to teaching and learning, revamping leadership and governance in tertiary institutions to enable the buy-in of key management in order to enhance their attitudes, behaviours and commitment to engage R&D, as well ad establish a formal management system, structures and processes required to deliver and sustain change and improvement in quality.

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He also harped on the need to ensure a connected curriculum framework that would help students connect with researchers, across disciplines, vertical and horizontal integration, learn how to produce outputs and hands-on experience, as well as connect academic learning with workplace learning.

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