The National Research Fund (NRF), domiciled with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), has been reviewed to N7.5billion from the initial N5billion.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the fund, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, who made this known in Abuja during the 2020 Board of Trustees Retreat held in Abuja, said President Muhammadu Buhari approved the increase of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, NRF.
Reeling out the agenda of the fund, the Board chairman, stated that the fund has re-declared its position on deployment of high level technologies across all beneficiary institutions to enhance teaching and learning.
Kashim emphasised that the board will provide fund for the construction of over 200,000 hostel accommodation in public universities, polytechnics and colleges of education to tackle the deficit of accommodation in the institutions.
According to him, “current applications of ICT in most of our tertiary institutions for teaching and research are inadequate compared to best practices across educational institutions worldwide. For instance, many of our public tertiary institutions are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but sadly students are unable to continue their education through online lectures unlike their counterparts in private universities”
“It is therefore essential that we improve on the deployment of technologies across all beneficiary tertiary institutions.
“In the area of accommodation, it is a known fact that the number of bed spaces in our tertiary institutions is only 10-15% of the student population, the University of Abuja has a thousand bed spaces for thirty thousand students. University of Calabar has two thousand bed spaces for fifty five thousand students. These amount to 3.3% and 3.7% respectively.
“We will scale up the provision of fit-for-purpose infrastructure, result-oriented research, and cutting-edge technology to our tertiary institutions,” he added.
The BOT Chairman made known that Tetfund between 2016& 2019, constructed 80 auditoriums and lecture theatres in the 223 beneficiary institutions.
He noted that the fund also constructed 500 classrooms, 2,383 administrative and staff offices, 40 fully equipped libraries, 250 science laboratories, 38 ICT centers, 8 medical centers and sick bays, 100 vehicles and major infrastructures in the 12 newly established federal universities.
He said to consolidate on the achievements, the TETFund has made provision in the 2020 budget for emergency special intervention to the University of Abuja and Special high impact projects to six universities, one from each geopolitical zone.
The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, said the upscale of the National Research Fund makes TETFUND the largest holder of research grants in Nigeria.
Bogoro also disclosed that President Buhari also approved the establishment of six medical simulation research and clinical training facilities in six colleges of medicine in each geopolitical zone within the year.
He noted that the approval provided an opportunity for TETFund to provide twelve Covid-19 and related infectious disease molecular laboratories, two in each geopolitical zone, making the fund the highest single provider of COVID-19 test centres in Nigeria.
Prof. Bogoro disclosed that the BoT of TETFund approved over N200 million, to sponsor some COVID-19 research proposals mainly from universities and NAFDAC.
According to him, “in addition, the BOT also endorsed and was subsequently approved by the President, that six Medical Simulation Research and Clinical Training facilities in six Colleges of Medicine (one in each geopolitical zone) are to be established this year.
“Individually, this provided an opportunity for twelve COVID-19 and related infectious disease Molecular Laboratories to be provided (two in each geopolitical zone), hence making TETFund the highest single provider of COVID-19 test Centres in Nigeria.
“The BOT also approved that TETFund sponsors some COVID-19 Research proposals to the tune of over N200 million, mainly from Universities and NAFDAC, this being one of the reasons TETFund has recently been made the Secretariat for the Nigeria Covid-19 Research Consortium R&D,” he said.
Bogoro further revealed that the BoT has directed the Management of the agency to make recommendations towards migration of e-learning consistent with global best practice.