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Ex- TETFund Executive Sec. Advocates for priority funding of public varsities

Former Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has emphasised the necessity for prioritising government intervention in public universities over private ones.

He spoke at a book launch held on the campus of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State. The book is titled: ‘The Psychology of Growing Old: A Personal Experience for Both Young and Old,’ written by Bashorun Sehinde Arogbofa, Prof. Sulaiman Bogoro.

Expressing his views at the launch, Bogoro who served as the Executive Secretary of TETFUND from April 2014 to February 2016, addressed the ongoing debate regarding the inclusion of private universities in the TETFund scheme for infrastructure development.

Despite calls from private universities for government support, Bogoro argued that public universities enroll a larger number of students, warranting greater attention from government funds.

His remarks shed light on the disparity in student enrollment between public and private universities, underscoring the importance of directing resources towards institutions serving a larger population of students.

According to him, the primary purpose of establishing the intervention agency was to address the deficiencies in public institutions.

He stated that this is not lacking in private universities.

He said, “There was wisdom from 1988 to 1992 when the ETF (Education Trust Fund) then negotiated. The wisdom is simple. Today, the private universities outnumber the public ones by about 20. The public universities are about 120, while the private ones are about 160.

“Invariably, we say we have more private universities, but in terms of student’ populations, the private universities are holding only less than 10 percent of the population. What does that say? The majority of the students are in public institutions. That was the wisdom of ASUU at the time, and it is still valid.

“If you look at the private institutions, children of the poorest of the poor are unable to pay. Some of them charge in dollars. These are some of the considerations that the government will review. Some of us were able to complete our studies because of the intervention of the government.

“But then, TETfund, which has admitted private universities as partners in research through the National Research Fund, has now started admitting private universities as co-partners in research. They may not be principal investigators but they are second partners, and you can fund them up to 50 percent of the total research grant cost for any particular intervention in terms of priorities for Nigeria’s knowledge economy.”

In his remarks, the author and former Secretary General of Afenifere, Bashorun Sehinde Arogbofa, lamented the decline in the standard of education in the country, particularly, reading culture, saying urgent intervention of the government and other stakeholders was needed to save the sector from total collapse.

He said, “The book industry is dying. There are no longer any libraries. I discovered that only two of the renowned publishing houses still have my books: University Press and Longman. All the others, where are they? Heineman has folded up, and MacMillan has gone into oblivion.

“Education is dying. I know we have modern technology like this and that, but we can’t begin all this without writing, without producing the books, and we are not producing. Where do we go?

“This is a challenge for us in education. And of course, without books, we can’t move ahead. I’m aware that some will write in their bedroom or publish in the kitchen, and nobody, no editor, will know what they have written, and they will go in front of their house to start selling the books. The next thing is that we find them in the hands of our students. And that is where education is going.”

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