Tertiary Education Trust Fund, abbreviated TETFund, is a familiar name in most tertiary institutions, especially for its numerous projects in tertiary institutions. TETFUND has achieved near global fame among education sectors’ stakeholders, as the most pushful advocate for research in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions. The Agency has become a lifeline for the schools in Nigeria.
TETFUND, is a scheme established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2011 to disburse, manage, and monitor education tax to government-owned tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The TETFUND scheme was formed as a product of the Education Tax Act of 1993.
Prior to its establishment, Public tertiary institutions in Nigeria have been affected by the problem of poor funding. This awkward situation necessitated the emergence of TETFund.
So far, 152, 838 infrastructural projects have been executed across the country. 30, 000 lecturers have also been sponsored for Masters and PhD programmes. 68, 000 academic and non-academic staff of tertiary institutions have also been sponsored to attend local and international conferences. Tetfund has also supported 71, 263 lecturers, under the Teacher’s Supervision Programme. Over 2 million books and 152, 000 E-resources have been procured by Tetfund.
Tetfund played a significant role in Covid 19 research. Information has it that Tetfund approved four mega research clusters for Covid 19 vaccines and drug research, as well as for security and dairy research.
The clusters had within the range of 250 million, to 450 million to fund their research activities.
Different studies have examined the impact of TETFund in funding public higher education in the country, adopting different research designs. Primary data obtained from lecturers and students from tertiary institutions, using the TETFund questionnaire, showed positive response in terms of access to funds, training of lecturers and students’ perception of TETFund in public tertiary institutions.
Last year, the Agency celebrated a decade of service, having gone through a lot of changes in its functions, duties, coverage and composition. It had existed under different names before now, but the amendments to the act establishing it, have turned it into a Tetfund, with more coverage of tertiary education in the country.
The Executive Secretary, Tetfund, Sunny Echono, has been described as the apostle of research and development in different quarters. He is an advocate for improved research and development.
Though an Architect, he has successfully put plans in place to reinforce huge investments in 13 new universities to fast track their rate of progress, with a view to achieving the purpose of establishing them.
Building on the lasting legacies of his predecessors, Echono has continued to turn the tides of the impact of Tetfund from infrastructure to research.
Coming from an Education background, Echono was the immediate past Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education. An appointment coming swiftly after his predecessor, Prof. Sulaiman Elias Bogoro whose 5-year tenure ended on 18th March 2022.
He was described as an accomplished technocrat, who brought to the job a diverse wealth of experience spanning Infrastructure, business administration, procurement management, ICT, and the education sectors.
This is a glaring testimony of the quality of stewardship he brings to the running of Tetfund.
Prior to his appointment, he had served as Permanent Secretary Fed. Min of Education and Member, Board of Trustees of TETfund among other important National assignments.
Echono seems to understand that Nigeria’s economy cannot be competitive if it does not institutionalise Research and Development. As a matter of fact, most competitive nations are those that have placed innovation and creativity as the lead elements that drive society. He has apparently hit the ground running, by putting in place a premium vision for the Research and Development Foundation, knowing fully well that the country stands to reap bountifully when the bill is passed.
On assuming office, Echono has been calling on tertiary institutions in Nigeria to produce entrepreneurs and not just graduates.
Echono said investments in creating entrepreneurs would go a long way in curbing the menace of unemployment and consequently tackle the socio-economic problems prevalent in the country.
He restated the present administration’s full support to education, adding that this is evident in the recent presidential approval of upward review of education tax from 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent, which he said would enable TETFund to cope with increasing demands.
He said the education tax would likely increase to three per cent as the government brings in educational investment, adding that it would go into expanding the frontiers of education in the country.
“The increased tax would facilitate the implementation of more developmental projects in the education sector,” he said.
However, to make Echono’s tenure more impactful, there have been recommendations that TETfund’s funding base should be further strengthened on the one hand, and, on the other hand, TETFund needs to put in more efforts towards solving the number of problems in the public tertiary level in the country.
Olamide Adeniji is a member of the editorial team of TheScript Newspaper