TETFund Bill: Matters arising over CoAs, others agitations
In 2011, the National Assembly repealed the Education Trust Fund, ETF Act No7 of 1993 to establish the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, limiting the scope of its interventions to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. Five years after, immense pressure is being mounted on the agency by colleges of agriculture, research institutes, law schools and others for their inclusion. Godfrey AKON reports:
In June, 2016, when the House Committee on Education held a public hearing for the Consideration of a Bill to amend the Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act 2011, one issue that dominated debate was the proposed inclusion of Colleges of Agriculture and research institutes.
The National Assembly had repealed the Education Trust Fund, ETF Act No7 of 1993 in 2011 to establish TETFund and limited the scope of the agency’s intervention to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, shedding off a pool of beneficiaries who are currently alarmed by the tremendous interventions on infrastructures, research output and academic staff training in tertiary institutions across the country.
One of the reasons for limiting the interventions is that primary and secondary schools had multiple sources of funding including state governments, local governments, MDGs, UBEC, UNDP and other donor agencies, but universities, after what they get from the government, the only other source was ETF.
The ETF Act ensured that 57 Universities now 77, 3 Inter-University Centres, 49 Polytechnics now 58, 61 Colleges of Education now 67 and 61 Monotechnics were statutory beneficiaries of ETF interventions.
ETF also intervened in all public secondary schools established in the 36 States of the federation as well as all 104 Federal Unity Colleges and all states Universal Basic Education Boards for all the public primary and junior secondary schools in the country.
During the public hearing, stakeholders such as the National Universities Commission, NUC, National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, National Commission for Colleges of Education, NCCE, Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, among others were invited.
Representatives from the agitating colleges, research institutes and House Committee members on Agriculture, were also present at the public hearing.
In its submission, NUC categorically opposed the move to include Colleges of Agriculture and research institutions as beneficiaries of TETFund interventions, while Civil Society organisations toed the same line.
Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights, CCIDSR, argued that TETFund Act 2011 was enacted to focus strictly on interventions in tertiary institutions as clearly defined to mean public universities, polytechnic of colleges of education.
It said “we are worried that attempts to amend TETFund Act, which has been a subject of intense lobby from Council of Legal Education through the House Committee on Justice and House Committee on Agriculture to include Law Schools and colleges of Agriculture as beneficiaries, will make the intervention fund ineffective to all the original desires to transform tertiary education in Nigeria as the funds will be like normal fund allocation that meets only little needs of the institutions.
Also speaking, the Acting Executive Secretary of TETFund, Malam Aliyu Na’Iya, recalled that ETF interventions were overstretched as it covered all public primary, secondary and tertiary institutions throughout Nigeria, thereby making it less effective.
“An overburdened and overstretched ETF was only able to render palliative support, and the available resources were grossly inadequate to address the real and tangible problems experienced at all levels of public education institutions especially of the tertiary education level in Nigeria.
“To ensure a more effective deployment of resources, TETFund was mandated to operate as an intervention Agency for the administration and disbursement of education tax to public tertiary educational institutions expressly defined under Section 20 (i) of the Act as public “Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
“These designated tertiary education institutions are owned by the Federal and State Governments which are also increasing as more Federal and State tertiary institutions are been established,” he said.
According to Na’Iya, the new mandate has ensured a more meaningful support in the provision of physical infrastructure, learning resources and training of the manpower in the concerned institutions.
Currently, 100 per cent of tax accruable to the Fund is disbursed to tertiary institutions within the mandate of the Fund at the ratio of 2:1:1 in line with the provisions of the enabling Act. This sharing ratio translates into 50 per cent to Universities, 25 per cent to Polytechnics, and 25 per cent to Colleges of Education.
From 2011, when the new TETFund Act took effect, the allocations to tertiary institutions for interventions has risen considerably from N303 million for each University in 2010 to N912 million in 2014, thereby making available more funds for transformation of the tertiary education sector.
“Prior to TETFund, no Nigerian University was on the list of 1000 ranked Universities in the world for several principal reasons including dearth of resources for research, decay of infrastructure, low quality of academic staff among others.
“The ranking of Nigerian universities has improved significantly as a Nigerian university is now ranked among the 1000 in the world. If this funding level is sustained and continued to be substantial, our tertiary institutions will ultimately compete favorably among the top 100 in the world in no distance future to come,” he said.
More funds would be made available for research, library development, academic staff training and development, publications of journals, book development, infrastructural development including rehabilitation and renovation, entrepreneurship developmental, etc. in public tertiary institutions within the mandate of TETFund.
“Based on the focused and structured intervention to tertiary institutions, academic staff trained in local and foreign institutions from 2010 - 2015 for M.sc and PhD stood at 13,400. This included 4,456 for Universities, 3,761 for Polytechnics and 5,183 for Colleges of Education, among which 6,325 are PhD holders.
“The number of academic staff that attended local and foreign conferences from 2010 - 2015 stood at 39,190. This includes 15,920 for Universities, 10,549 for Polytechnics and 12,721 for Colleges of Education. Lecturers in Nigerian Colleges of Education are fully sponsored to undertake teaching practice supervision and Conference Attendance,” Na’Iya said.
Similarly, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, also opposed the move, stating that any amendment of the bill that would return the fund’s intervention to producing assistance so diverse and NOT targeted at breakthrough transformation of higher education should be rejected.
According to the President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, “any return to loose intervention will defeat the goal of the new TETFund, adding that this position is very critical to the success of the TETFund.
“In the debate and public hearings that led to the enactment of the 2011 Bill into law, it was envisaged that all kinds of post-secondary institutions would claim to be tertiary institutions and consequently seek to be beneficiaries of the TETFund intervention.
“To avoid defeating the chief goal of the TETFund Act, the Act, with all eyes open, defined a tertiary institution to mean a public “University, Polytechnic or college of Education” The substance of the TETFund intervention is not just giving money to any institution, that is by definitional fiat now baptized “tertiary institution,” Ogunyemi submitted.
Although the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, pleaded for understanding on the need to help Colleges of Agriculture and include them as beneficiaries, the agency failed to address the issue of legality of such intervention.
ASUU has stated the obvious that if the TETFund Act is amended to include other beneficiaries like the Colleges of Agriculture, “there will also be a burgeoning of requests from all kinds of sources which TETFUND will not be able to address and TETFUND may get suffocated by too many demands and this will make it unable to act in a transformational manner.”