The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, said on Monday that an urgent solution must be found to the “over N1.5tn” spent by Nigerians in search of education overseas yearly.
The speaker admitted that this was an indication that the country’s education sector required immediate overhaul by the Federal
Government, the National Assembly and other stakeholders.
Dogara spoke in Abuja at the opening of a public hearing on three bills and three motions by the House Committee on Tertiary Education.
One of the bills, which generated interest at the session, was a ‘Bill for an Act to Amend the TETFund ACT 2011’.
The Speaker was represented by the Chief Whip of the House, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, while the committee was chaired by Mr. Aminu Suleiman.
Dogara said, “The alarming report that Nigerians spend over N500m annually on their children studying in the United States of America and the United Kingdom calls for concern from every Nigerian.
“The House of Represen-tatives is equally worried that over N1.5tn, which is nearly half of the total Federal Government Appropriations in 2015, is spent on Nigerians studying abroad.
“There is no better time for all hands to work together to overhaul our education sector than now so that this sector can be turned into a source of foreign exchange as is the case with other countries.
“The House is determined to pursue this goal to fruition in fulfilment of its prescriptions in the Legislative Agenda to make concerted efforts in bringing about the desired change in the sector.”
At the hearing, the management of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund kicked against any plans to include federal colleges of education as beneficiaries of the fund.
The Acting Executive Secretary of TETFund, Mr. Aliyu Na’Iya, told lawmakers that including agricultural colleges as beneficiaries would defeat the aim of the fund.
He explained that TETFund was for universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, excluding agricultural colleges.
Na’Iya stated, “The existing Act should be allowed to exist as it is.
“If amended, it will result in eroding the intervention function and impact of the fund.”
But, many stakeholders, who thronged the venue of the hearing at the National Assembly, Abuja, disagreed with the TETFund boss.
The majority of them, who were provosts of colleges of agriculture from across the country, argued that non-funding of the colleges by TETFund had denied them of development.
According to the stakeholders, the name “monotechnic”, was coined for the colleges just to allow them to suffer neglect over the years.
They told the committee that the name was strange as it could not be found in any English Dictionary.
Meanwhile, academic researchers in Nigeria, under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Research Institutes, on Monday, stormed the National Assembly protesting against their exclusion from the TETFund.
While demanding a review of the TETFund Act, they said the scope of distribution of funds should be extended to all research institutes in the country.
At about 9am, the protesters, numbering over 200 and led by the Secretary-General of ASURI, Dr. Theophilus Ndubuaku, besieged the National Assembly, chanting solidarity songs.
Some of the protesters displayed placards with various inscriptions.
According to the group, despite campaigns for diversification of the economy, government has not deemed it necessary to adequately fund the research institutes sector.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: [email protected]