Mr. Sonny Echono, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, addressed stakeholders during a One-Day Engagement on Emerging Issues in Abuja, highlighting that the fund allocation dedicated to servicing programs within its Tertiary Scholarship for Academic Staff (TSAS) is currently stretched thin. This has led the fund to contemplate the suspension of foreign scholarships and explore the possibility of revising the allocation for local scholarships. He expressed the fund's discouragement of beneficiary institutions initiating new Benchwork programs due to the current financial climate.
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has recently experienced difficulties arising from the implementation of a new policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This policy shift has resulted in complications in the payment of foreign scholarship tuition fees and stipends. Shedding light on this issue,
Reviewing Scholarship Allocations Amidst Financial Constraints
Echono pointed out significant challenges within the scholarship landscape, including scholars failing to return to their home institutions upon completing their programs abroad. He also mentioned the problem of scholars absconding, which has brought the TSAS program under scrutiny. Recognizing these challenges, the engagement was organized to facilitate discussions on finding solutions to ensure the effective implementation of scholarship programs.
The fund has recently entered into partnerships with esteemed overseas institutions such as universities in Malaysia, India, Brazil, France, and the United States. These partnerships aim to bolster and enhance the TSAS program in the future, demonstrating the fund's commitment to quality education.
Calls for Strategic Funding Approaches and Quality Assurance
•Chris Maiyaki, Acting Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), stressed the importance of developing new funding strategies that align with the dynamic landscape of education. He emphasized the need for sensitivity to evolving challenges and advocated for robust monitoring mechanisms to ensure the quality of projects and a better return on investment.
•Mrs. Miriam Onuoha, Chair of the House Committee on TETFund, emphasized the importance of inclusivity in tertiary institutions, especially for persons living with disabilities (PLWD). She called for accessible infrastructure to accommodate the needs of PLWD in physical planning.
•Prof. Peter Okebukola, former Executive Secretary of NUC, proposed innovative solutions to address the challenges. He advocated for a reduction in TETFund overseas scholarships and a focus on in-country training in TETFund-strengthened postgraduate programs. Prof. Okebukola suggested the allocation of resources to equip local universities with cutting-edge facilities and the accreditation of postgraduate programs.
He also recommended providing TETFund support to experienced foreign lecturers to collaborate with Nigerian professors in postgraduate training. Prof. Okebukola underscored the value of sending professors for capacity building to top-tier overseas universities, enriching doctoral education and supervision within the country.