Just as efforts are being made to resolve the protracted strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Federal Government, on Tuesday, disbursed over N90.3 billion to universities, polytechnics and Colleges of Education in the country.
The fund is the 2013 regular intervention allocation to tertiary institutions by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) for programme upgrade, improvement of teaching and learning environment, institutional research among others.
Supervising Minister of Education, Barrister Nyesom Wike, presented the allocation letters to the beneficiary institutions at the 2013 TETFund Strategic Workshop for Chairmen of Governing Councils, Vice Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts of the institutions in Abuja.
Wike said in spite of challenges of competing demands, the Federal Government had continued to prioritise provision for the education sector as indicated in the marked increase in intervention to institutions this year.
He pointed out that in “the 2011, TETFund intervention to universities was N395million each while in 2013 the figure increased to N646million, for polytechnics, it increased from N240million in 2011 to N443million in 2013 while COEs rose from N190million in 2011 to N390million in 2013.”
He said it was also remarkable that the number of universities for which TETFund intervened had grown from 58 in 2011 to 70 in 2013.
He said government also made it a duty to disburse High Impact Fund in which universities, polytechnics and Colleges of Education were benefiting from in phases, stating that each beneficiary university gets N3billion, while polytechnics and Colleges of Education get N1billion. He added that this excluded the normal budgetary provisions from government to each of the institutions.
According to the minister, the Federal Government’s commitment to effective education system is further portrayed by the Professional Learning Programmes targeted at tertiary institutions in Nigeria where over 7,400 beneficiaries are currently in Nigerian and foreign institutions studying up to doctoral level.
He tasked tertiary institutions on research and innovative activities, stressing that the government and people of Nigeria looked up to them for discoveries that would enhance growth and development of the society.
He equally urged the institutions to strengthen their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) as well attract support from private and public organisations, saying it was a clear fact that tertiary education could not be solely funded by government.
Wike, however, said this was dependent on the ability of the institutions to “demonstrate through their work that they are able to support private and public organisations to excel in diverse areas of productivity” and in maintaining competitive advantage.
Chairman Board of Trustees of TETFund, Dr Musa Babayo, in his remark, said the over N90.3 billion disbursed to the institutions would assist them to address some of the infrastructure deficits, carry out programme upgrade, improve on teaching and learning facilities, equip libraries, aid institutional research among others.
He expressed regrets that most tertiary institutions have not developed capacity on procurement processes, saying this has contributed to backlog of un-accessed funds of the agency. He disclosed that about 40 per cent of last year’s intervention has not been properly accessed by some of the institutions.
Babayo, however, said the successes recorded by the fund were as a result of the role of diligent tax-payers who must be commended.
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Education, Aminu Suleiman said the Committee members would embark on monitoring exercise to some of the projects sites, with a view to assessing core needs of each of the institutions where the funds are being channelled.
He said: “I must say that the establishment of TETFund is the only thing that we have gotten right. Therefore we must re-order our priorities as people and ensure that there is judicious use of these resources. The National Assembly would embark on an inspection exercise to some of the benefiting institutions to see if the funds are properly channeled”.
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