The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has raised concerns about the obstacles posed by the recent policy changes from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which have impacted the payment of foreign scholarship tuition fees and stipends. Sonny Echono, the executive secretary of TETFund, addressed this issue during a One-Day Stakeholders’ Engagement on Emerging Issues with the TETFund Intervention in Abuja on Wednesday.
Echono highlighted the struggles caused by limited funding allocations, noting that the funds allocated were barely sufficient to cover programs under its Tertiary Scholarship for Academic Staff (TSAS). As a result, TETFund is considering the suspension of foreign scholarships and evaluating the possibility of increasing support for local scholarships.
He stated, “The challenge of scholars absconding has undermined and complicated the TSAS program and brought it under intense scrutiny. It is for these and other reasons that this engagement was organized. We need to address these challenges and find solutions to ensure the effective and smooth implementation of our scholarship programs.”
In response to these challenges, TETFund has taken steps to strengthen its scholarship program. Echono mentioned that the organization has recently signed multiple Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with prestigious institutions overseas, including universities in Malaysia, India, Brazil, France, and the United States. These collaborations aim to enhance and bolster the TSAS program in the future.
During the engagement, Chris Maiyaki, the acting executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), stressed the importance of developing new funding strategies while being responsive to evolving dynamics through qualitative funding. Maiyaki also advised TETFund to improve its monitoring mechanisms to ensure quality assurance, leading to better returns on investments in its projects.
Miriam Onuoha, the chairman of the House Committee on TETFund, emphasized the significance of inclusive infrastructure in tertiary institutions, particularly for Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWD). Onuoha highlighted the need for buildings and facilities that are accessible and accommodating to the needs of PLWD.
Peter Okebukola, the former executive secretary of NUC, weighed in on the issue by suggesting an effective monitoring and implementation system to ensure adherence to universities’ academic calendars. Okebukola proposed reducing TETFund overseas scholarships while promoting in-country training in TETFund-supported postgraduate programs.
Okebukola emphasized the importance of investing in local universities and professors. He suggested that TETFund should support top-rate lecturers from overseas universities to collaborate with local professors in Nigeria. He further recommended sending experienced professors abroad for capacity building and bringing their expertise back to bolster doctoral education and supervision.
The engagement underscored the challenges faced by TETFund in the changing landscape of education funding and the importance of adaptability and collaboration to ensure the quality and effectiveness of scholarship programs.