The Executive Secretary of the Fund, Arc Sonny Echono, met with heads of universities on Tuesday to try to improve communication between the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and benefiting institutions in Nigeria.
Vice-Chancellors, Provosts, and Rectors from public institutions around the nation that profit from TETFund’s intervention were present at the conference.
The Fund’s worries about carrying out its mandate as set forth in the Act creating it were the main topic of discussion during the conference. It was also to investigate the subject of research, which Echono believed had not gotten enough attention.
As a result, the forum was used to discuss and think through new tactics for improving the effectiveness of various Research and Development programs. Promotion of innovations, entrepreneurship, and the employability of graduates from the country’s higher institutions were some of the other topics discussed.
Echono welcomed his guests to the meeting and commended them for their dedication to and support of the ongoing reforms in the tertiary education system. He claimed that despite their busy schedules, the enthusiastic response to his invitation demonstrated their commitment to making the TETFund more receptive to the needs and aspirations of the country’s tertiary education system.
He said, among other things: “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 organization, Echono said that TETFund has maintained consistency in its pursuit of excellence by using workable methods and solutions to reposition and revitalize the country’s tertiary education system for Nigerians in the coming generations.
“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 revealed to his guests that in order to improve the efficiency of the staff’s deployment to its various departments, the Fund had also conducted some internal audits of its personnel. In order to better position the Fund to effectively carry out its mandate, he advised the leaders of institutions that would benefit to do the same with regard to TETFund Desk Officers.
The Vice-Chancellors, Provosts, and Rectors urged the TETFund to assist the appropriate government agencies in resolving some of the difficulties facing lecturers.
They specifically lamented the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) loss of eight months’ pay due to the protracted industrial action, adding that the trend was unhealthy for the system.
They also gave TETFund the responsibility of working with the Central Bank of Nigeria to help Nigerian students who are studying abroad with their foreign exchange problems (CBN).