NBTE Urges Synergy Between Varsities, Polytechnics to Enhance Research

Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) has called for synergy between polytechnics and universities on the conduct of research which would bring about development in the country.

The Executive Secretary of NBTE, Prof. Idris Bugaje, made the call in Abuja, yesterday, during an interactive meeting with Rectors and Directors of Research of Polytechnics on National Research Fund, (NRF), grants organised by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, (TETFund).

Bugaje lamented that the roles of polytechnics in the country were being neglected, adding that it was part of the reason research in Nigeria was not yielding desired results.

“Research and development is a topical issue. TETFund has created NRF to drive high level of research that could led innovation. Today, in Nigeria, almost 99.9 percent of these researches do not yield innovation. They end up as journal papers published in papers and cited.

“Therefore, there must be synergy between universities and polytechnics if our research and development is to lead to innovation.

“I’m calling for a very close collaboration, if necessary, I would like the NRF to give a section of its grants for these activities by the polytechnics, even continue to fund fundamental

“NRF must have a rethink and we must allocate certain amounts for this level of moving our research to commercialisation,” he said.

Also speaking, the executive Secretary of TETFund, Mr. Sonny Echono, tasked polytechnics across the country to embark on quality research proposals that would translate into commercial and innovative use.

Echono noted that, “No research would be of benefit to a country like Nigeria If we are not translating that and applying the products of such research to affect our daily lives; if we are not transferring that knowledge, that creative spark, into the production of goods and services that could create employment for our people, that would improve our standard of living and that would grow our economy, and activate all segments of our economy.”

The TETFund boss stressed the compelling need for skilled manpower in the country, stating that, “we are producing graduates in an economy that is underdeveloped yet they are unable to find employment.”

He also lamented the huge shortage of skills in critical sectors of the nation’s economy, stating that, “it means we are not producing graduates that are fit for purpose, that meet the needs of the industry, that are ready to take up responsibility and contribute their quota upon engagement.

“We are having situations where foreign concerns, foreign companies, foreign businesses are relocating to our country under the guise of not having the right manpower to carry out their operations.

“We are having a situation where side-by-side there is very high graduate unemployment. It’s a huge shortage of skills in critical sectors of our national economy.

“It means we are not producing graduates that are fit for purpose, that meet the needs of the industry,  that are ready to take up responsibility and contribute their quota upon engagement.

“The other aspect is that we continue to produce manpower that the current structure of our economy can no longer absorb,” he said.

According to him, the fund wants to see polytechnics taking more active parts in solving society’s problems; in solving the country’s developmental challenges and proffering solutions that would ease the various operations of the country.

Earlier, the Director, Executive Secretary’s Office, Mr. Uchendu Wogu, said the Fund recognises the fact that research was not a one-man show but needs collaborative effort and must be multi- disciplinary.

While stressing the fund’s commitment towards ensuring the adoption of international best practices in delivering research mandate, he urged the polytechnics to rise up to the challenge of producing quality research proposals.

“Indeed, the polytechnic sector has not shown too much of a good performance, not to say that they are not doing well in NRF angle particularly.

“In achieving the mandate of the Fund the NRF was established so that we address the paucity of funds for research, especially in Nigerian tertiary education Institutions and this is geared towards contributing to national development efforts.

“The committee has been working and the intervention is open to universities, colleges of education and polytechnics but having spent the amount of money that has been available for that intervention over the years, performance reports from 2012-2021, having spent N24 billion on NRF and having sponsored 727 research grants, only 28 of this 727 is domiciled in our polytechnics, representing about four per cent,” he said.

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