Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has lamented growing cases of academic staff of universities, polytechnics and Colleges of Educations (CoE) absconding once they were sent abroad on scholarships by the agency.
Its Executive Secretary, Sonny Echono, said the cases are embarrassing and that they have decided to review the foreign scholarship programmes to strengthen the criteria of selection and ensure no beneficiary absconds going forward.
Echono, who addressed heads of benefitting institutions in Abuja, yesterday, at a one-day stakeholders’ engagement on emerging issues that affect TETFund intervention, challenged participants to take responsibility and assist TETFund ensure that credible scholars are recommended for foreign scholarships.
“We are entrusted with the responsibility of rehabilitating the physical infrastructure and other content aspects of the nation’s entire public tertiary institutions. We have successfully sponsored over 37,000 scholars for both foreign and local PhDs, Masters, Bench Work, and Postdoctoral programmes in various institutions within and outside Nigeria.
“Sadly, we are having growing cases of scholar’s abscondment, scholars not returning to serve their bonds at their home institutions upon completion of their programmes. In fact, the challenge of scholars absconding has undermined and complicated TETFund’s scholarship for Academic Staff (TSAS) programme thus bringing 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 programmes.
“We recently signed several Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with some prestigious institutions overseas that included universities in Malaysia, India, Brazil, France and the United States with a view to boosting and enhancing the TSAS programme in the future.”
Echono said the purpose of the engagement was to foster open dialogue and collaboration among the Fund’s key stakeholders because they understood the significance of their collective insights, ideas, and feedback in enhancing the effectiveness of TETFund’s intervention programmes.
He said it was through shared efforts that stakeholders could drive positive changes and accelerate the development of education sector.
“As an agency of the government tasked with rebuilding and supporting the nation’s tertiary institutions, we are fully aware of the enormous responsibility and task before us, especially considering the importance of tertiary education in nation-building.”
The TETFund boss also lamented the negative impact of rising inflations on the interventions of the Fund in benefitting institutions.
The growing inflation rate has made it necessary that we reconsider the fixed cost regime for physical infrastructure intervention depending on the project lifecycle. Projects with more than one year lifecycle are likely to be affected by inflation and rise in cost of materials, as such variation in such cases may be justifiable.
“The Fund is, thus, considering either converting the fabrication interventions line to skills acquisition or introducing skill acquisition as an annual direct disbursement intervention line.
“There is also the need to undertake a comprehensive audit of all equipment, particularly the skill G equipment, procured and delivered to institutions to establish their status and identify those that require upgrade. It will also enable us avoid duplication in subsequent interventions.”