By Felix Khanoba
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) says the draft bill for the establishment of the National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) has been submitted to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu.
The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Professor Suleiman Bogoro, said the move is to get the required inputs from the minister before its transmission to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval and onward submission to the National Assembly.
Bogoro disclosed this at the 13th thematic meeting of TETFund Research and Development Standing Committee (RDSC) on Education, which was held virtually on Tuesday.
Bogoro commended the federal government for its promise to progressively increase the education budget to fund research and drive global competitiveness in the country.
He further lauded the federal government for recent steps on the professionalization of teaching and announcement of special allowances for teachers, among other incentives.
Bogoro noted that government’s recent pronouncement is one way that recognises basic education as the foundation.
“The retirement age of our teachers has been moved from 60 to 65. I think this is very encouraging for teachers. Of course I mentioned earlier that those in the sciences will have better emoluments attached to their allowances.
“Government has announced its intention from the budget year of 2022 to raise education budget by 50 per cent and scale it up and gradually double it to 100 per cent by the year 2025.
“To me that was something that was not immediately expected or anticipated but government has made the pronouncement. So I imagine that the 2022 budget will reflect that 50 per cent increase,” he said.
Speaking further, the TETFund boss said he looks forward to a situation where some of the areas that have suffered from inadequate funding from the appropriation window will be taken care of, with the added increase, including the funds that will be made available to institutions.
He said the funds will help in increasing the funding made available through appropriation for even personnel and that the capital allocation made to public universities, polytechnics and colleges of Education will also increase.
“The most vibrant economies are so because they have allowed education to dictate the way forward through qualitative research, to make a difference. In Nigeria it cannot be different.
“In Nigeria for instance, there is no doubt, the facts are there that the south west zone have a comparative advantage over the other five geopolitical zones because of their consistent and massive investment in education starting from the time of late Obafemi Awolowo, with free education from the foundation upwards,” he said.
In his presentation, immediate Past President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, stressed that education remains the bedrock for every knowledge based economy and sustainable national development.
Ogunyemi who was the lead presenter, insists that education must inter-phase with other sectors of the economy and national life, adding that an integrated policy framework was needed to bind all the various sectors together for sustainable development to occur.
According to him, education, research and development were cross cutting issues for national development, even as he added that there was need for the government to transform tertiary education in the country to allow for an inbuilt research and development eco system.
He said: “Setting Nigeria’s research agenda under the context of R&D involves transitioning from research for publication to enabling problem solving research, increasing thought-out of human power, strengthening of IP regulations, technology transfer and commercialization in that sequence before industrialization.
Ogunyemi further recommended a service learning approach to teaching and learning, revamping leadership and governance in tertiary institutions to enable the buy in of key management on order to enhance their attitudes, behaviours and commitment to engage R&D, as well ad establish a formal management system, structures and processes required to deliver and sustain change and improvement in quality.
He also harped the need to ensure a connected curriculum framework that would help students connect with researchers, across disciplines, vertical and horizontal integration, learn how to produce outputs and hands-on experience, as well as connect academic learning with workplace learning.