N208bn intervention fund is  inadequate for public tertiary institutions

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The Federal Government recently approved N208 billion as the 2019 intervention funds for public institutions across the country.

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund ( TETFUND) Executive Secretary, Suleiman Bogoro, disclosed this at the annual meeting with officials of TETFund and beneficiary institutions in Abuja on Thursday last week.

According to  Bogoro, the annual direct disbursement of N826.7 million was allocated to each university, N566.7 million was allocated to each polytechnic and N542.2 million was allocated to each College of Education in Nigeria.

In 2018,  TETfund disbursed N134 billion to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education as intervention funds, which is  nearly doubled from the N69 billion it disbursed in 2017.

For a fact, there has been a geometric progression in the amount of funds allocated to public tertiary institutions in the last three years, but we still consider this as grossly inadequate.

Looking at the number of beneficiaries, the Federal Government needs to expand the number, so as to accommodate more schools. According to Bogoro,”Eighteen institutions across the six geopolitical zones are beneficiaries of the Special High Impact Intervention. Six universities, six polytechnics and six colleges of education received N1 billion each.”

Statistics from the National Universities Commission (NUC), which is the regulatory body for universities in the country, shows that there are  43 federal universities and 48 state universities. For colleges of education,  there are  21 federal and 49 state colleges of education, not excluding  public polytechnics. Considering the high level of decadence in these institutions,there is a need to make surplus funds available to them to address the issue of decadence urgently, so as to prevent total collapse of both the physical infrastructure and the soft capacity of these institutions. Each of these institutions needs at least N2 billion yearly to function effectively.

Education is expensive and quality education is even more expensive. So, the Federal Government should brace up to this reality and increase funding for these institutions in order to address the gale of deficiencies they are having.

In some of the public tertiary institutions in the country, the only difference between them and secondary schools is that those who teach there are called lecturers while those who teach in secondary Schools are called teachers. With a derelicted hall of residence, hostile lecture rooms because of absence of air-conditioners, pews, fans,  boards and projectors; moribund libraries, othordox laboratories and lack of funds for research, all make our public tertiary institutions mere glorify secondary schools.

The government at all levels must work together to  address these issues, so that we can have public tertiary institutions that can competitive favourably at the global stage. Putting these institutions in shape will afford the country the opportunity to build manpower for the development of the country and export skills for financial rewards. It will stop the issue of brain-drain which has become a recurrent decimal.

For instance, the summarized financial  information of Harvard University for the year ended June 30, 2018, shows that the University’s operating surplus for the year was $196 million or 4 per cent of revenue, higher than 2017 operating surplus of $114 million, or 2 per cent of revenue. The balance sheet was strengthened in the year under review as net assets increased by $2.9 billion, or 7 per cent, to $47.0 billion. The increase in net assets was driven by investment returns on the endowment, generous campaign contributions, and a disciplined focus on expenses. This is why Harvard is among the top universities in world.

Unfortunately for the tertiary institutions in the country, they do not have the privilege of generating much revenue through endowment and generous contributions; which is why there is much reliance on government funding.

For the fact that education is a powerful tool in national development, we call on the government at all levels to make investment in education a priority for the overall interest of the nation.

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