By Rita Esegine
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), has revealed that N185 billion has so far been spent for about 35,000 scholars in public tertiary institutions, under the TETFund Scholarship for Academic Staff programme which commenced in 2008.
Acting director of Academic Staff Training and Development, Abdullahi Imam who stated this when the representatives of the TETFund scholars paid a courtesy visit to the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono in Abuja, said the project was established with the sole aim of training and upscaling the educational capacity of the academic staff of beneficiary institutions, adding that the project was the second in expenditure after infrastructural projects of the Fund.
Imam also sought the Executive Secretary’s approval to have a TETFund Scholars Alumni which he said would help identify areas of specialization and pool them into a critical mass of knowledgeable workforce and change agents for the development of the nation.
He added that the Alumni through its planned journals on issues like innovation and entrepreneurship, science, engineering and technology, art, humanities and social science would help to prevent or curtail intellectual flight.
He said: “Next is the compilation of soft copies of their thesis in order to have a repository for the National Library/State. We are not only thinking of the database, we want to have a repository of their thesis so that it will pass it to the libraries for reference purposes.”
While speaking also on the plans to showcase the capacities, competence and the scholars by developing a database for the Alumni, Imam noted that the scholars would serve as a voluntary advisory house on national research needs, institutional collaboration and industry partnership.
One of the scholars, Prof. Kinsley Nwozor noted that even though some of them were tempted to stay back after their education, they have decided to come back to the nation to prove their mettle and showcase to the world that the dream of TETFund was a well-thought intention.
“There is no national agency that has done what TETfund is doing in Nigeria. An investment of N185 billion is not a chicken change. It is time for us to look at innovative ways of making TETfund stand out. You have done so much with gigantic infrastructures in universities. We also believe that gigantic structures don’t make gigantic universities but gigantic minds.
“We are TETfund ambassadors whenever we are and with you by our side, there is nothing we cannot achieve,” he said.
In his response the executive secretary, Arc. Echono promised to support the scholars wherever they needed help adding the first point will be to develop a database that will have all the names of the beneficiaries and their areas of specialization.
“We want to count our blessings even beyond the scholars. You are only a vessel. You are a vehicle through which we achieve our primary aim of improving the quality of teaching and learning in the higher institutions and also promoting research and making the findings of those research touch the lives of our people; translating those research and innovations so that people can consume them, improve their lives and generate income from them,” he said.