When, Why TETfund Said No To Private Universities

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TETFund proposes N8.5 bn research fund for 2021

By Emmanuel Aziken

A good product has no hiding place and it was no surprise that the achievements of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETfund came into perspective recently in Lagos.

The stage for the exhibition of the achievements of the interventionist agency was the TETfund/ FIRS 2020 Joint Interactive Forum on Tuesday, December 9, 2020.

While it was an opportunity to appraise the operations of the fund among key stakeholders, it also was a forum to address recent quests and agitations from stakeholders towards expansion of the coverage of the scheme.

The forum remarkably came just after the nationwide assessment tour of the projects of the fund in the country’s tertiary public institutions.

With over 10,000 projects estimated at N250 billion, the interactive forum was indeed an opportunity for the stakeholders to also make their contributions towards the activities of the agency.

One major issue that had lately agitated the hearts of stakeholders in the education sector is the agitation for the inclusion of privately owned tertiary institutions into the TETfund scheme.

The issue was directly addressed by the chairman of the board, Alhaji Kasshim Ibrahim-Imam and the executive secretary of the fund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro.

Addressing the issue frontally, Ibrahim-Imam said:

“We are not competing with the private institutions, we are competing against them. Our mandate is to get our public universities to surpass the level of the private institutions. So, the answer to that is capital No. We cannot fund the private institutions,” he said.

Continuing, he said:“Private institutions are for profit making. If we start giving them funds, it means we would start excluding the children of the less privileged from accessing quality education.”

The Executive Secretary of the fund, Prof. Bogoro in backing the stance of the chairman said that it was out of the question for the fund to direct its limited resources to private universities arguing further that the private universities contribute only about 6% of the total population of tertiary students.

As he said: “Those also canvassing supporting private universities are not conversant with the data of students in public and private universities. Over 96 percent of the students in our universities are in public ones,” he said.

It was a point that really sank home to the stakeholders on the improbability of TETfund channeling public money to the privately owned universities.

Another important issue that was resolved during the interactive session was the question about funding of Colleges of Education.

“The Colleges of Agriculture were delisted in 2011 because the law that set up the Fund does not incorporate mono-technics that they are.”

Given the strides of the fund it was not surprising that the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Muhammad Nami, vowed to sustain the collaboration between the two federal agencies.

“We are pleased with what TETfund has done with the money given to it and we are ready to also support it the more. We are partners on progress and we will continue to be,” he said.

Similar words of commendation were thrown towards the TETfund management by representatives of vice-chancellors of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and the vice-chancellor of the Lagos State University, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, SAN.

Also present that day was the rector, Yaba College of Technology, Yabatech, Engineer Obafemi Omokungbe.

If anything, they were there to appreciate the gains of their institutions from the TETfund and they also went away with the news that the Federal Government had approved an increase in the National Research Fund.

The fund which was only recently raised to N5 billon has now been increased to N7.5 billion.

Given the increased focus on research by the Prof. Bogoro led management of TETfund, the increase would undoubtedly in no small way positively impact on the knowledge and skill of those involved in various researches in the universities.

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