The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) is providing to be a veritable intervention agency is providing the needed funding to bridge the budgetary allocations to public tertiary institutions across the country
By Tunde Niyi-Akinmade
History and Background
Following widespread decay of educational facilities across the country and the agitation for more spending in the sector, the Education Tax Decree No7 of 1993 was promulgated basically to help in the funding gaps of educational institutions in the country.
The Decree, which imposed a 2 per cent tax on the assessable profits of all companies in Nigeria, intended to provide a workable solution to the problems of funding and rehabilitation of decaying infrastructure in the education sector.
The Fund so created by the Decree was to operate as an Intervention Fund to all levels of public education (Federal, State and Local).
However, due some lapses and challenges noted in the operations of the Act, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment, Etc) Act, 2011, was enacted and passed to law to repeal the Education Tax Act Cap. E4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Education Tax Fund Act No. 17, 2003.
Signed into law by the then President Goodluck Jonathan on June 3, 2011, the Fund was charged with the responsibility for imposing, managing, and disbursing the Education Tax to public tertiary institutions in Nigeria as well as monitoring its usage.
The Fund derives its main funding from the 2 percent Education Tax on the assessable profit of all registered companies in Nigeria. The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) assesses and collects the tax while TETFund administers the tax imposed by the Act.
As an intervention agency, TETFund provides supplementary support to all level of public tertiary institutions with the main objective of using funding alongside project management for the rehabilitation, restoration and consolidation of Tertiary Education in Nigeria.
The Fund, under Section 7(1)(a) to (e) of the TETFund Act, 2011 disburses the funds specifically for the provision and maintenance of the following: Essential physical infrastructure for teaching and learning, Instructional material and equipment, Research and publication, Academic staff training and development, and any other need which, in the opinion of the Board of Trustees, is critical and essential for the improvement of quality and maintenance of standards in the higher educational institutions.
Structure: Administratively, TETFund is structured into two main segments: The Board of Trustees, and The Secretariat.
- Board of Trustees: The Fund is managed by an 11-member Board of Trustees with
members drawn from the six geo-political zones of the country as well as representative of the Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Finance and the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS). The Board’s responsibilities include monitoring and ensure collection of Tax by FIRS and ensure transfer to the Fund; manage and disburse the Tax; receive requests and approve projects after due consideration; ensure disbursement to various public tertiary education institutions in Nigeria; monitor and evaluate execution of projects; and invest funds in appropriate and safe securities.
The Board also has the responsibilities of update the Federal Government on its activities and progress through annual audited reports among the states of the Federation in case of regular intervention; review progress and suggest improvement within the provisions of the Act; and make and issue guidelines, from time to time, to all beneficiaries on disbursement of monies from the Fund on the use of monies received from the Fund.
In discharging its responsibilities, the Board is mandated to ensure that the funding is to all public tertiary educational institutions; equality among the six-geo political zones in case of special intervention; equality among the states in case of regular intervention; and the distribution shall be on the ratio of 2:1:1 as between Universities, Polytechnics and College of Education.
The BOT shall have power to give due consideration to the peculiarities of each geo-political zones in the disbursement and management of the fund between the various levels of tertiary education.
- The Secretariat: is headed by the Executive Secretary, who is the Chief Executive of
the Fund. It has various directorates and units to help in its operations.
TETFund’s main departments/ directorates are: Academic Staff Training & Development; Directorate (Executive Secretary’s Office); Education Support Services; Executive Secretary’s Office; Finance & Investment; Human Resource and General Administration; Information & Communications Technology; Monitoring & Evaluation; Physical Infrastructure Department; Research Support Services; and Strategic Planning & Development
Other major units are: Internal Audit; Legal & Board Secretariat Services; Public Affairs; and Servicom.
TETFund is presently led by Professor Suleiman Bogoro, the Executive Secretary. Other top management staff and heads of directorates/ departments include Idris Saidu, Director, Finance and Investment; Dr Aminu Anas, Director, Human Resources and General Administration; Barrister Ifiok Ukim, Director, Strategic Planning and Development; and Benn Ebikwo, Director, Executive Secretary Office.
Others are Umar Bukar, Director, Research Support Services; Architect Babatunde Olajide, Acting Director, Academic Staff Training and Development; Dr Salihu Girei Bakari, Acting Director, Physical Infrastructure; Engineer Mustapha Gotala, Acting director, Monitoring and Evaluation; and Joseph Odo, Acting Director, Information and Communication Technology.
The Fund’s Interventions are of various types: Library, Book Development, National Research Grant,
The Fund’s interventions which are Annual, Special and High Impact are in various areas. These include Physical Infrastructure/Programme Upgrade, Project maintenance, TETFund Scholarship, Book Development, Teaching Practice for Colleges of Education, Equipment Fabrication for Polytechnics, Entrepreneurship for Universities , Training & Development, Journal Publication, Manuscript Development, Conference Attendance, ICT Support, Advocacy , Institution Based Research, National Research Fund and Library Development, and Curriculum & Programme Contents Development
In June 2019, the sum of N208 billion was approved by the Federal Government as part of the 2019 intervention through TETFund for infrastructural and teacher development in public tertiary institutions. Each university received N826.6m, polytechnic-N566.7m and college of education-N542.2m as annual direct disbursement to the beneficiary institutions.
One university, polytechnic and college of education from each of the six geo-political zone also benefit from another special high impact intervention of about N30bn. Each beneficiary university under the special high impact project got N3bn while beneficiary polytechnics and colleges of education received N1b each
Between January and June 2019, TETFund also disbursed N19.9bn for physical infrastructures and library interventions while the sum of N19, 977, 522, 916.59 was disbursed between January and June 2019 for physical infrastructure and library interventions.
Also total of 55 Colleges of Education have benefited from micro teaching laboratory, construction and furnishing.
At a recent event, Prof Bogoro said a beneficiary institution of the Fund must meet the standard guidelines established by the Board of Trustees of the Fund for enlistment and must be a public tertiary institution owned by either the federal or state government as specified in the Fund’s enabling law.
Bogoro revealed that 215 institutions have benefitted from the Fund’s interventions. These are 81 universities, 64 polytechnics and 70 colleges of Education (COEs).
Bogoro said a total of 24,385 Academic Staff have been trained under the Academic Staff Training and Development (TETFund Scholarship) as at March, 2019.
“Prior to the introduction of this intervention only 40 per cent of academic staff in Nigeria’s Tertiary Institutions had PhD which is the minimum requirement to be a lecturer in a tertiary institution. But today this percentage has risen to nearly 70 per cent due to this intervention,” he said.
As at March 2019, the Conference Attendance Intervention program of TETFund, which started in 2010, has afforded 57,564 academic and non academic staff of public tertiary institutions the opportunities to attend various conferences (18,721 for foreign conferences and 38,843 for local conferences) and have the chance to have first-hand international and local experiences and exposures in their various areas of specialisation while interacting with their peers across the globe.
Under the TETFund Library Development Intervention, which was intended to ensure availability of books, periodicals, equipment and other reading resources in the libraries of public tertiary educational institutions with special emphasis on e-resources, about N16,101,705,355.311 was disbursed to Universities while N10,783,805,000 was disbursed to Polytechnics and N10,268,585,100 to Colleges of Education.
With the National Research Fund (NRF), a total of N2,170,598,839 has been spent on this intervention as at January 2019 with about N4billion allocated since its inception in 2011 by the Federal Government to encourage academics undertake cutting edge research for national development in the areas of power and energy, employment and wealth creation.
Under the Institution Based Research (IBR) intervention, which was aimed at supporting and enhancing basic academic research activities in the institutions with TETFund disbursing funds to institutions annually, the sums of N4,634,454,957 have been disbursed to Universities, N2,426,446,788 to Polytechnics and N2,202,307,811 for Colleges of Education as at January 2019.
These interventions in the area of research have largely helped solve the problem of funding for researches in the tertiary institutions.
TETFund is also constructing seven Academic Publishing Centers (APCs) through its intervention programmes to boost book and manuscript production. The centre projects are being undertaken with one per university in each of the six geo-political zones of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) so as to enable all tertiary institutions within a zone to have access to the centre within their zone for all their publishing needs. Four of APCs have been completed and commissioned for take-off.
The Fund’s Academic Manuscript Development (AMB) Intervention was to enable lecturers develop and produce their academic manuscripts into textbooks through funds made available to the institutions on an annual basis. This is expected to lead to more production and availability of relevant academic textbooks for teaching and learning in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.
As at January 2019, a total of N423,029,252 has been disbursed to Universities, N505,501,591 to Polytechnics and N372,961,184 to Colleges of Education.
On the under hand, TETFund has published 31,200 copies of 20 Academic Manuscripts under the National Book Development Fund (BDF) as specialized Academic Textbooks through the University of Ibadan Press. This intervention, which aimed at encouraging the resuscitation and sustenance of scholarly books and journals production, already has seed money of N2billion grant already dedicated for it to encourage the production of local books.
TETFund also have the Academic Research Journals Fund, which is aimed at reviving and encouraging the publication of quality academic journals based on research findings conducted by lecturers in public tertiary educational institutions. As at January 2019, TETFund has provided N713,363,593 funding for Universities; N647,300,517 for Polytechnics and N633,565,985 for Colleges of Education under this intervention.
The Professional Association Journals (PAJ) Intervention, an aspect of TETFund Higher Education Book Development Intervention, supports Nigerian-based professional associations to produce their journals. A one-off grant of N5million is given to each professional association as TETFund support for the development, production and distribution of professional Journals under this intervention.
In 2012, the Teaching Practice Intervention was also introduced by TETFund as a tactical approach to enhance Teaching Practice Supervision and provide funding for procurement of micro teaching equipment for all public Colleges of Education in Nigeria. By 2018, a total of N566,956,500 had been allocated in the intervention.
This year, TETFund and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to deploy emerging technologies and ensure digital inclusion in tertiary institutions across the country.
The MoU process, which started four years ago between the two institutions, covers areas such as information technology infrastructure deployment, deployment of emerging technologies and digitisation of services in tertiary schools, human capacity and project management.
Others are IT academy deployment; ICT policy development and emerging technologies; deepening of research and development with ICT in tertiary institutions.
This project will help many institutions to digitise their activities and academics records, including examinations, certificates and awards; and help towards the integration of all former thesis and projects in about 220 tertiary institutions in the country in a server so that they could be harvested through subscription.
However, the TETFund is facing some challenges. These include constraints of its enabling law which limits it from exploring other possibilities of expanding sources of revenue to education tax collections and investments in safe securities.
Also, the low payment rate of the Education Tax is a major challenge as just a few per cent of the over 2 million registered companies in Nigeria are paying the tax.
Likewise, some state governments have been interfering in the deployment of funds for projects approved for their institutions just as many of them establish such institutions based on political consideration and such frequency that sometimes do not make sense.
Another challenge is the low capacity utilization of disbursements by some of the beneficiary institutions.
The lack of harmonisation of modalities for granting tax holidays to companies by relevant arms of government is also posing a challenge for the Fund.
But Bagoro is optimistic that the Fund poised for the challenges and task ahead.
“The Fund had undergone some internal restructuring and realignment for better and efficient service delivery,” he said.