TETFund Harps on Innovation as NBTE Sets Deadline on Skills Devt Centre

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Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has called on polytechnics and colleges of education in the country to up their games in academic programmes and innovation to reposition the country on the path of rapid development.

The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Professor Suleiman Bogoro, made the call at a capacity building workshop for heads of selected institutions and staff of TETFund Centres of Excellence yesterday in Abuja.

Bogoro, who said there were indices that are globally associated with Centres of Excellence, especially in bringing about innovation and development, said the two-day event was organised to ensure proper understanding of the concept of the centres by those that will be in charge of them.

Bogoro called on the Centres of Excellence in the polytechnics to focus on skills development, entrepreneurship and start-ups; even as he lamented that most of the low and medium skilled jobs in the country are being handled by people from Francophone countries.

According to him, “For the polytechnics, the centres of excellence are to focus on skills development and support entrepreneurship and startups.

“In the areas of competitive advantage- and you know that skills development is central-it is fundamental. If you miss that area, if your polytechnics does not have the capacity to develop skills or the entrepreneurial ability of its students and researchers, then it has failed the country.

“That is the area that has been very worrisome for us each time we reflect on it. It is very embarrassing that in Nigeria, if you go to construction sites, although it has improved recently, believe me, some 10 years back, you would have likely to see Francophone personnel that are at construction site more than Nigerians; that shows something is missing, but the polytechnics are trying to address it.”

While saying the Centres of Excellence in the colleges of education will focus on relevant pedagogical development, the TETFund boss said beneficiary centre would get about $2 million.

Also speaking at the event, which also had in attendance experts from the World Bank-sponsored African Centres of Excellence in universities, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Prof. Idris Muhammad Bugaje, commended Bogoro for his passion for the institutionalisation of research and development.

Bugaje, who said Bogoro’s name would be written in gold if the history of the country’s academic community would being written, added that polytechnics must wake up to their responsibility of producing skilled manpower in the country.

The NBTE boss expressed serious concerns that most major infrastructure projects in the country are being dominated by skilled personnel from other countries.

“There is need for our polytechnics to be focused on skills training, that is why we say from 2023, NBTE shall never go for any accreditation to any polytechnic where there is no skill training centre,” Bugaje said.

TETFund had recently established Centres of Excellence in six polytechnics and six colleges of education.

The beneficiary institutions selected equally from each of the six geo-political zones in the country are: Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, Nasarawa State; Federal College of Education, Pankshin, Plateau State (North Central); Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, Bauchi State; Federal College Education, Yola, Adamawa State (Northeast); Federal Polytechnic, Kaduna, Kaduna State; Federal College of Education, Zaria, Kaduna State (Northwest).

The South-east has Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Imo State, and the Alvan Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State. The South-south beneficiaries are Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, and Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku, Rivers State, while Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, and Adeyemi College fo Education, Ondo State, were chosen from the Southwest.