By Charles Kumolu
THe Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund ,TETFUND, Professor Sulaiman Bogoro in this interview explains why TETFUND must be supported to addresses the fundamental challenges affecting the education sector and why private universities cant benefit from the Fund. Excerpts
THE nations that make up the first world are said to lay great emphasis on science and technology. Is it not advisable that TETFUND tows the line in funding science, vocational and technical institutions?(
I think you heard what I said earlier today at the presentation of research grants funded by TETFUND. Most of the grants approved were for the sciences. Even in conventional universities 60:40 ratio is the standard while in the universities of technology it is 70:30.
In these modern times, the economy must be driven by knowledge-based infrastructure largely dominated by science and technology. This should not be otherwise. If you look at the most advanced nations you will see that they have made more breakthroughs in science and technology than anywhere else. And that’s precisely what we’re trying to do at TETFUND through the public tertiary institutions.
How do you see the call for the extension of TETFUND to private institutions?
I have never believed that’s the right way to go. Very clearly, it would be the wrong way to proceed. The reason is simple. Government creates the enabling environment for the private institutions. Government should not be subscribing their operations. It’s a wrong way to think and do things. I can tell you it couldn’t be otherwise. Our law is very clear in terms of their funding intervention; the private sector is privately owned.
In reality that is in terms of demographic reality in Nigeria. In the education sector, the public tertiary institutions constitute a glaring majority. It constitutes the majority in terms of student population. If you take it out there you will discover that put together in terms of members the private tertiary institutions especially universities, have caught up, they’re the same numbers now with public tertiary universities.
But by population I can tell you that the public tertiary institutions constitute more than three quarters of the population. So that tells you that the majority is there. And it has to do with the funding review and government intervention is aimed at doing the best for the largest segment of the population.
Taking the demographic realities of Nigeria into consideration, we are in the right direction in funding public tertiary institutions. I don’t see it as funding the private sector in the real sense of it. Not funding the private sector but subsidizing it. We should use the word subsidizing the private sector. For example, the children of the less privileged are almost exclusively in the public tertiary institutions and this is a statement of fact. Nobody can contradict it.