Lecturers on TETFund foreign scholarship absconding – Exec. Secretary

The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Sonny Echono, has described as alarming the number of Nigerian university lecturers studying abroad under TETFund sponsorship and have absconded.

Echono said TETFund would make the absconded lecturers refund money expended on them or be repatriated.

He spoke on Monday on the sidelines of the TETFund Management Retreat held in Makurdi,

He said TETFund devised the two ways, which he described as soft and hard measures, to ensure that the university lecturers who absconded were sanctioned.

He said, “I don’t want to give a figure because it’s alarming; it’s very sad that this opportunity that is being given is being abused.

“The figure is comprehensive, that is why it’s a bit large because there are others who have come back home but did not complete the minimum of their bond before deciding to relocate or what is called ‘japa syndrome’.

“We have a database now, which we are refining each time because the institutions are the ones submitting the report. Although it is a difficult thing to get accurate reports, for some, it’s not that they absconded but they exceeded their course period.

“But some have extensions in their programme; we have a very good idea and the number is not encouraging and I can tell you that even the security agencies are also becoming interested and they are looking at that.”

Speaking on the sanctions, he said, “What we are doing, first as a soft landing, we are requiring anybody who has benefitted in our programme and does not come back, to make the full refund of the money expended in training them.

“The other option, which is the harder one, is that we are collaborating with our embassies, the embassies of the country where they are, and the institutions.

“You will have recalled recently when I met with foreign institutions that will sponsor our candidate, I made it a condition for further patronage that those of our scholars who went to such institutions and did not return, must provide that information to the relevant authorities to their own equivalent of their internal affairs because they’re staying on visas that have not expired or does not permit them to seek employment.

“This means that they have abused their visa and they are subject to migration that is the next step we are going to take and we believe they will do the honorable thing and take the first option.

He further said that TETFund had disbursed over N400bn to tertiary institutions in the country.

(Punch)

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Disbursement to institutions will increase in 2024 – TETFund

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund says it has budgeted a significant increase in annual direct disbursements in response to improvement in tax collections.

The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono, made this known in Abuja on Tuesday at an interactive session with heads of beneficiary institutions on the disbursement guidelines for the 2024 intervention cycle.

Echono, who appreciated the Federal Inland Revenue Service for its diligent efforts in collecting the education taxes, said that the 2023 collection was being allocated by the fund for the 2024 intervention projects.

Echono also said that its 2023 collection of education tax was the highest in a single year since inception.

The TETFund boss also attributed the high revenue to increases approved by the former and present administrations to 3 per cent of accessible profit and other factors diligently implemented by the FIRS in collaboration with the TETFund.

Speaking on the proposed areas of focus under the 2024 intervention programme, he said TETFund had budgeted a significant increase in annual direct disbursements in response to the improvement in tax collections.

According to him, 90.54 per cent of taxes generated is budgeted for direct disbursement and designated 6.5 per cent for some projects and 2.94 for stabilisation to enable the fund to respond to emerging issues, all of which are subject to final distribution/approvals.

“The proposed new interventions in the annual direct disbursement include the establishment of Career Centre/Unit in all categories of beneficiary institutions, as well as institution-based skills development for polytechnics to improve the employability and career prospects of students.

“For the Special Direct Disbursement, we have increased the allocation and number of beneficiary institutions for the Special High Impact Programme,” he said.

He added that SHIP would also focus on “provision of hostels using the Public Private Partnership arrangement for selected beneficiary institutions.

“We have also sustained allocations for Research including the National Research Fund Research and Innovation Fund, uptake of research findings to commercialisation, and supervision of scholars’ PhD research.

“We have made provision for four central multipurpose laboratories and an additional provision for the three agricultural laboratories and farms initiated in 2023.

“We have sustained the implementation of the ICT roadmap with provision for converged services, subscription services for fixed cable /internet access and the Tertiary Education Research Application Services initiative.

“There will be an upgrade of laboratories, workshops and equipment to Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education (Technical) for the 2024 Intervention Year. There will also be the early grade resource centres phase II to Colleges of Education,” he said.

He described the year 2023 as “an impactful year that had witnessed a series of programmes such as the development of the TETFund ICT roadmap culminating in the deployment of the BIMS and launching of the TERAS platforms.

He added that there had also been the commencement of the designs and strategy for the innovation hubs to selected beneficiary institutions, and the constitution of the committee for the establishment of two central research laboratories.

Echono expressed the fund’s determination to deepen research, promote innovation and honing of skills, and encourage the discovery and development of creative talents amongst scholars and especially the students as a major pillar of the renewed hope agenda of the present administration.

(Punch)

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