The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) says it will waive its planned sanction for polytechnic lecturers who collected money from the Fund for conference attendance but failed to embark on the exercise.
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono, who made this known in Abuja on Thursday, during a courtesy visit by association of heads of polytechnics and colleges of technology in Nigeria, however, said such affected lecturers have to attend a conference requested by the association.
“Many institutions have not been able to access our provision for conference attendance, those that are able to access, some have not attended.
“Indeed, for those who have not been able to attend their conferences that we are trying to punish or introduce sanction for, we will offer this (Association of Technical Universities and Polytechnics in Africa, ATUPA, conference ) opportunity, this window for them, for anybody who wants to attend this conference, who has outstanding, who has collected money that have not used it, we will approve, so that they utilize it and go and attend the conference and take them off the hook of those that will be asked to refund the money they collected without attending the conference”, Echono said.
While commending the association for ensuring stability in the polytechnic sector, the TETFund boss harped on the need to mass-create innovation hubs and skills development centres in polytechnics to boost the employability of graduates, adding that the Fund would ensure the desired support in that regard.
His words: “Everyone agrees that the work of tomorrow is not so much about certificates as in the skills set that you have. The things you can do and the soft skills; about critical thinking, skills on creativity, the ideas that you have and that is why we must cautiously and progressively create innovation hubs in our polytechnics, that level of manpower is what is required in today’s workforce.
“When I was in the ministry, we received a briefing about an earlier intervention by TETFund in polytechnics and universities in supplying equipment intended to facilitate this and the feedback we had was that most of them were not being utilized, and were not even sure whether they were actually supplied.
“So we have to undertake an audit and to our surprise, we discovered these equipment were supplied and were there. In some, unfortunately, they were lying idle, in others, those that were trained at the time had moved on.
“We at TETFund have developed a follow up programme, in two tranches, first based on the new need of the workplace – what are the additional equipment and facilities that these institutions will need with greater emphasis on the polytechnics first, because that is where the need is very urgent, the middle level manpower in our country.
“And secondly, the need for capacity building, training, so we will be approaching you to identify the officers that are directly involved in operating these equipment, in teaching students these relevant subjects so that we can train them.
“We don’t want those equipment supplied to be lying idle and if there are complementary infrastructure or facilities the schools need to optimally utilize them, we will create an intervention that will make that possible, then train the workforce first here so that they can now go and begin to train on a continual basis our students because we want your graduates to leave school ready with relevant skills and business ideas to go and practise, not to try to get admission into university for academic programme or looking for employment in government offices”.
On the request by the association for the review of the sharing formula of TETFund intervention funds in favour of polytechnics, Echono said: ” The issue of the sharing formula is entrenched in the law establishing TETFund, so it will require an amendment of the law to effect any change.
“But however, in terms of special intervention, we do have some elements of input the Board can exercise and I share your desire. Globally the trend now is towards skills, towards innovation and towards entrepreneurship”.
Earlier, the chairman of heads of polytechnics and colleges of technology in Nigeria, Engr. (Mrs) Olufunke Akinkurolere, had called for more favourable TETFund’s allocations to polytechnics among other requests.
Akinkurolere, who doubles as Rector of Institute of Technology, Igbesa, Ogun State, said: “Polytechnics are more capital intensive than other institutions. We, therefore, appeal that the TETFund reconsider the sharing formula for the normal intervention to tertiary institutions in favour of polytechnics.
“The new NSQF is an additional mandate given to polytechnics There is the need for TETfund to assist in the development of skills acquisition centres in the polytechnics through special íntervention.
“The polytechnics are institutional members of ATUPA- a body that serves as an avenue for peer review and networking among polytechnics in Africa.
“Polytechnic staff are expected to attend their biennial conference to present papers and discuss other issues relating to TVET. We appeal for TETFund to allow polytechnics to utilize the funds allocated for training to sponsor our academic staff to attend the 2022 ATUPA Conference.”