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By Ngozi Nwankwo
Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, has approved N130,000,000.00 as zonal intervention for each polytechnics in its 2023 intervention line, geared towards reinvigorating skills acquisition in polytechnics across the country.
This was disclosed by the Director of Infrastructure of the Fund, Malam Buhari Mika’Ilu at the TETFund/NBTE Sensitisation Workshop on the 2023 Zonal Intervention on Skills for Rectors and Directors of Skills in Beneficiary Polytechnics in Abuja on Tuesday.
Mika’Ilu said that the intervention was to consolidate the efforts of the National Board for Technical Education,NBTE,in increasing the capacities of polytechnics to deliver on their mandate.
He said the intervention was mostly used to support institutions to meet basic requirements for accreditation.
The director said the intervention focused purely on projects with academic relevance, thereby addressing deficiencies in core areas of acquisition of essential instructional materials and equipment for teaching and learning and building capacities for the use of the equipment procured.
”Funds are allocated in line with the provision of the Establishment Act and guided towards addressing critical and essential needs of the beneficiary institutions for the improvement of quality and maintenance of standards in the tertiary educational institutions.
”NBTE have been at the fore front in championing the need to have skills in the educational system in Nigeria.
”It is in response to this, that the Fund has prioritised the 2023 Zonal Allocation to polytechnics to be geared towards reinvigorating skills acquisition in the polytechnics across the country.
”This is to further consolidate on the efforts of NBTE of increasing the capacities of Polytechnics to deliver on their mandate.
”Therefore, the sum of N130,000,000.00 only allocated to each polytechnic has the main focus of procurement, Installation, Testing, Training and commissioning of relevant training materials,” he said.
He also revealed that since inception of the Zonal Intervention in 2016, the Fund had allocated a total sum of N52,046,079,584.7 as zonal Intervention to enlisted polytechnics.
”In the year 2017, the Fund focused the Zonal intervention on “Student Dignity Project”. Hence, the intervention was used to upgrade and standardise all lavatory facilities or provision of new ones where necessary in academic areas of institutions, also shuttle buses (coaches) were also procured for students use among other projects.
”Most recently, the 2022 intervention was used for deployment of ICT facilities within the institutions in line with the guidelines developed by the Fund. This is essentially to increase the capacities of institutions to function effectively and deliver their programmes online.
”The Fund has allocated a total of N60,290,000,000.00 for Zonal Intervention for the year 2023 to all the two hundred and nineteen beneficiary institutions of which, the sum of N9,230,000,000.00 is allocated to polytechnics,” he added
He said the intervention, a post-research activity, had created an opportunity for academic staff in Science and Technology Programmes to fabricate equipment, thus promoting skills development in the Polytechnics.
Mika’Ilu expressed optimism that the intervention would in the long run, support the institution to resuscitate skills and improve graduate employability.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono charged rectors of polytechnics to explore the innovative approaches to skills development and as well device effective solutions that would enhance the quality and relevance of technical education in the institutions.
Echono said that skills development and entrepreneurship represented a holistic process in which individuals in society pursue opportunities and address needs through innovation.
He, however, said that acquiring skills prepares individuals for employment across all sectors of the economy and helps overcome numerous challenges as well fostering a brighter future for both the nation and individuals for global competition.
”Today, we recognise the significant strides made by TETFund and NBTE in promoting skills development in our beneficiary polytechnics.
”Our unwavering commitment to advancing technical and vocational education has paved the way for countless success stories, empowering individuals and transforming communities across our great nation.
”The purpose of this sensitisation workshop is to discuss and enlighten participants on two key areas: One is the skills agenda and occupational areas as a panacea for gainful employment of graduates and the second is the formalisation of the informal skills sector.
”By focusing on these aspects, we aim to address the critical needs for aligning our educational system with the demands of the labor market,” he said.
The TETFund executive secretary acknowledged that graduates equipped with relevant skills and competencies were more likely to secure gainful employment and contribute meaningfully to the development of our nation, hence the need for the intervention.
He added that the 2023 Zonal Intervention on Skills was a significant step towards transforming our education system and empowering students and citizens for the challenges and opportunities of the future.
In the same vein, the Executive Secretary, NBTE, Prof. Idris Bugaje, said that TETFund had been a very active promoter, supporter and financier of skills development in the country.
Bugaje, however, called on polytechnic rectors to key into the formalisation of the informal sector using technology to drive the sector.
He said that the N130 million given to polytechnics in the 2023 intervention line would not be used for building projects but rather to upgrade facilities for skills training, especially as about 10 skills had been identified.
Bugaje called on the government to stop the conversation of polytechnics to universities, saying that henceforth, polytechnics without skills development centres would not be given accreditation for National Diploma programmes.