NIGERIA’S TERTIARY EDUCATION STILL IN SHAMBLES DESPITE YEARS OF TETFUND,

lBy Kowiat Adepoju & Arowoogun Abiola

In Nigeria, it is very disheartening that education which serves as the bedrock for the growth of human and material resources has really deteriorated and has taken the back seat in the country.  This among other factors is due to dearth of funding. 

The situation is worst with the tertiary education which is the finishing point for the acquisition of formal education process that is faced with the problems of dilapidated facilities, improper and short staffing, lack of teaching aids, and especially, shortage of funding for research which can birth real discoveries and inventions which will bring real development, growth and advancement the masses yearn for.

Azubuike Ezenwoke, a Science Scholar while commenting in an academic journal, “Factors Affecting Science Research Productivity and Impact In Nigeria: A Bibliometric Evidence opines  that “ Fundamentally, both Federal and State government owned universities' complained of inadequate funding and the effects are obvious in the deterioration of physical facilities; internal and external brain drain among the faculty, dearth of quality scientific research and managerial capacities of Nigerian public university system

Meanwhile, historically, there was a time when education was on the top priority list of governments at all levels in this country.  The record of educational exploits by Late Pa Obafemi Awolowo’s Western Region which brought about high educational revolution in the region is still a record to beat even till today. This was a time when free education afforded less privileged children easy access to get education.  Educational facilities sprang up almost every day. The period saw the establishment of University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University. It was the period when governments at all levels provided scholarship for young Nigerians to get tertiary education but within the country and especially, to go study abroad.

But unfortunately, the advent of military junta brought about a backward jolt to the educational sector in Nigeria in the 1970s.  Things became worst between 1990 and 1997 when government allocation for higher education became 27% as against enrolment rate which grew by 79% in that period.

This dearth of fund brought about inadequate funding which has been described as the bane of tertiary education in Nigeria which has led to various strikes with adverse effect on the standard of education in Nigeria.

The importance and indispensability of education to the growth and development of a nation cannot be overemphasized and for a nation to attain any meaningful development, its educational sector needs to be properly funded and catered for  It should be noted that even the little fund allocated year in year out by the government cannot be really accounted for, even if it is small.  This is as a result of general mismanagement and lack of accountability which has been riding on the wing of corruption.  The incessant strike embarked upon by Tertiary institutions when their demands could not be met is one of the resultant factor.

Given this background, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund came into existence in 2011 as an intervention organization under the Education Tax Act no 7 of 1993 to address the challenges facing the Tertiary education system, especially, funding.  But unfortunately despite its establishment, there still exist poor educational facilities.

The acts that established TETFUND had imposed 2.5% education tax on corporate organizations and companies in Nigeria.  TETFUND is also charged with the responsibility of administering the fund to execute projects in federal and state tertiary institutions.   This was expected to mark a turning point in addressing the myriads of problems facing the Tertiary education system in Nigeria, but reverse seems to be the case as the quality of education keeps on declining.

TETFUND: Bringing a Ray of Hope, a Nightmare

The establishment of TETFUND was to bring a glimmer of hope into the Tertiary education system through the provision and maintenance of essential physical infrastructure for teaching and learning, instructional material and equipment, research and publication, and academic staff training and development. 

These mandate of TETFUND is further enumerated below as provided in section 7 (1) (a) to (e) of the TETFUND Act, 2011 which is to administer and disburse the amount in the fund to Federal and State Tertiary Educational Institutions, specifically for the provision and maintenance of the following:

i) Essential physical infrastructure for teaching and learning

ii) Instructional material and equipment

iii) Research and publication

iv) Academic Staff Training and Development

v) Any other need which, in the opinion of the Board of Trustees, is critical and essential for the improvement of quality and maintenance of standards in higher educational Institutions.

But despite TETFUND intervention, Tertiary institutions in Nigeria still lack funds necessary to upgrade to international standard through regular and successive researches, adequate funding, proper and purposeful physical facilities et cetera.  This is unconnected to the fact that despite tertiary institution being cost-intensive, the funds approved by TETFUND are not always fully accessed by beneficiary institutions.

From the above, it is clear that TETFUND’s cardinal objective was to generate additional income to support Tertiary education, provide scholarship and grants for the needy but promising students, attempting not only to strengthen and diversify the economic base of higher Institutions in Nigeria but also redirect their resources towards improving the productivity and quality of higher education.

Despite the above, it is saddening that Nigeria is currently witnessing an increase in the enrolment of University students due to an increase in population without corresponding increases in funding.

It is also disheartening to observe that TETFUND’s management and disbursement of the educational tax from Nigerian companies which translates to trillions of naira over the last decade is only evident in the sparingly distributed physical facilities in our tertiary institutions.  Other evidence, especially, in the area of research funding which seems to be the highest form of problem facing tertiary institutions in Nigeria is not visible.

Then, it is important to ask.  Why has TETFUND’s performance fall below expectation? What machinery is put in place by Federal government to supervise and make TETFUND accountable for every kobo collected through the education tax?  Until the government make attempt to work towards providing answers to the above question, TETFUND will never be a source of hope and succor to Nigeria tertiary institutions as it should be, but a phantom  of what it should be.

Kudos should then be given to a motion moved recently in the Federal House of Assembly.  The motion which brought about the resolution to probe the education tax up to the tune of N2.3tr collected so far by TETFUND from 2011 to 2o23 was passed during the plenary session of the House on Tuesday 5th July, 2023 with a motion co-sponsored by Olusola Fatoba, David Fouh and Zakari Nyanpa. The resolution to probe the fund is a hope out of the present ugly situation

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