• Friday, July 19, 2024
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FG approves N25bn to upgrade labs, workshops in tertiary institutions

FG approves N25bn to upgrade labs, workshops in tertiary institutions

The Federal Government has approved N25 billion to upgrade laboratories and workshops in public universities, polytechnics and colleges of education (Technical).

Sonny Echono, the executive secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), made this known in Abuja when the TETFund ad hoc committee on equipment upgrade in workshops and laboratories submitted its report to the minister of education.

Echono said President Bola Tinubu had approved the N25 billion in the Fund’s 2024 budget to be invested in the upgrade of obsolete equipment in laboratories and workshops of tertiary institutions across the country.

He noted that over the years, the focus of the intervention agency had been on infrastructure development and academic staff training, to the neglect of laboratories and workshops that would enhance quality and enable the conduct of cutting-edge research.

“Based on President Tinubu’s charge to the education sector and on the desire to use the sector as the springboard for improving and growing our national economy, we assessed what the requirements are to meet that charge.

“One of the things we discovered was that we have been addressing issues around access and providing infrastructure to facilitate the admission of Nigerians to undertake programmes in our tertiary institutions.

“And over time, due to our poor maintenance culture, we have tended to neglect the issue of quality in terms of the equipment that we have in our laboratories, whether they are functional or the kind of workshops we have to support productive work in terms of hands-on training, things like welding, fabrication, and so on.

“So, in this year’s budget, Mr President approved that we should start with N25 billion to invest in the upgrade of these facilities in our tertiary institutions. We constituted the committee to go around all the schools, not just to focus on this year’s intervention but to give us a kind of roadmap that, starting with this year, outlines what we are going to do and, on a sustainable basis, where we need to put our investment in the next five years, for example.

“In the committee report, you will see what we need to do immediately and how we will sustain it, and in addition, they are even talking about staffing, the quality of staff, and their training, particularly the technical staff that would be able to manage and run the equipment.

“We also observed that we are spending too thinly, so we are trying to promote specialisation; areas where polytechnics have a comparative advantage, we will get them to focus on those areas and produce the type of quality graduates that would be globally competitive and can work anywhere because they have been exposed to the right equipment or instrument that would enable them to even outsource jobs and be able to work remotely on behalf of international business concerns, and so forth.

Hayward Mafuyai, chairman of the TETFund ad hoc committee, while submitting the report, said what the committee found in most of the tertiary institutions visited was very disturbing.

“We saw equipment in some laboratories that were from 1917, some others from 1927. You will always agree with me that such equipment can best be in a museum in the institution to teach them the history of that particular equipment.”