The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has allocated the sum of N1billion each for the establishment of 12 additional Centres of Excellence (CoEs) in tertiary institutions.
Recall that under the 2020 intervention, 12 TETFund Centers of Excellence were established in universities. This year, 12 more centers will be established evenly in six polytechnics and Colleges of Education respectively.
The executive secretary of TETFund, Professor Suleiman Bogoro, who disclosed this at the inauguration of the 12 maiden centres in Abuja on Wednesday, said two were selected in each geopolitical zone of the country and are to be funded for a period of five years.
The centres are; Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa and Federal College of Education, Pankshin (North-Central); Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi and Federal College Education, Yola (North-East); Federal Polytechnic, Kaduna and Federal College of Education, Zaria (North-west); Federal Polytechnic, Nekede and Alvan Ikoku Federal of Education, Owerri (South-East); Federal Polytechnic, Auchi and Federal College of Education (Technical) Omoku (South-South); Yaba College of Technology, Lagos and Adeyemi College Education, Ondo (South-West).
Inaugurating the centres, Bogoro charged them to hit the ground running by ensuring to strengthen their sustainability beyond the year 2026.
“I’m delighted to welcome you all to this historic occasion, one that I hope will lay the foundation as well as define the trajectory for the transformation of our beleaguered Tertiary Education Institutions (TEIs) from mere ‘citadels of learning’ where inputs and outputs have left much to be desired for far too long, to the springboard of Nigeria’s leap into the knowledge economy paradigm, in keeping with the established tradition that Higher Education Institutions are the bastion of intellectualism and the breeding ground for creativity, original thinking and innovation that shape and define civilizations and also drive economies and development.
“Having been painstakingly selected to host the second batch of TEffund Centres of Excellence (ICots), Whist it is appropriate for each of you here to feel justifiably proud for being deemed worthy of selection from among dozens of eligible candidate institutions.
“I hasten to draw your attention to the huge burden of expectation that comes with your choice as the pioneer Beneficiary Institutions of this initiative with immense national significance.
“There is but one true path to socio-economic and technological advancement – R&D- and the new 12 TCoEs (2 in each geopolitical zone of Nigeria, which we are to fund for 5 years with a grant of one billion Naira (N1billion) each, will be at the heart of the mechanism for the attainment of our national aspirations,” he said.
The executive secretary noted that each selected institution is expected to implement its own approved TCOE, with the objective to address a specific national development challenge through preparation of professionals, applied research and associated outreach activities to partners, especially community services.
He said one of the basic strategic aims for establishment of Centres of Excellence is to support strategic and applications-oriented research and expertise with potential industrial applications.
“This means supporting national and global competitive research and development in strategic and applied sciences (including medicine and Engineering) with the aim of generating innovations. This is usually done with a focus on government-defined priority areas, needed for technical development and industrial.
“Bringing together the complementary resources application. This includes concentrating multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and translational research competence in order to further the development of products, processes and services, typically by focusing on problems that demand larger efforts than can be provided by smaller projects.
“Bridging the gap between researchers and users, and stimulating and strengthening triple-helix relationships.
“This is in order to enhance scientific research being patronized by industry, and in order to make the Tertiary Educational Institutions (TEIS) generally more responsive to industry needs. In addition is expertise development and training at doctorate level in areas of industry interest. and the development of knowledge management platforms and innovation hubs,” he added.
For the six selected Polytechnics, Bogoro said the focus will be on technical skills development and entrepreneurship education.
“The establishment of TCoEs in Polytechnics underscores the exigency and urgency of course correction from the colonial era strategy that established educational institutions solely for churning out a “labour force” for “white collar jobs”, to TEls that equip graduates with the technical and entrepreneurial skills necessary for catalysing the explosion of MSMEs that would mitigate the parlous state of unemployment in the country.
“The lofty vision of lifting 100 million people out of poverty and addressing the challenge of graduate unemployment in the country are more pertinent today than ever.
“We therefore, expect our TCEs in the six Polytechnics to imbibe some of the tried and tested approaches to enhancing entrepreneurship among students, such as their engagement in extracurricular or co curricula activities, ranging from training programs, business plan competitions to entrepreneurship clubs that play an indispensable role in fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and expanding students’ involvement,” he said.
Similarly, he said the task before the six Colleges of Education selected to host TCOES is to specialise in pedagogy and periodic curriculum review and development.