Tertiary Education, Tetfund & The Challenge Of Creative Funding
On January 1, 2018, the Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof Is-haq Oloyede said that the exam body expects more than 2 million candidates to sit for 2018 UTME. Much as the number of candidates for the exam will boost the revenue profile of government; the worrying aspect of this information is that in the end, less than two hundred thousand (200,000) of the number that sat for the examination will be admitted into tertiary institutions in the country. The main reason for perennial low intake of candidates by tertiary institutions, has always been, lack of carrying infrastructure in the institutions; that is, the infrastructure the schools have in terms of absorbing large students, are simply below capacity.
Although, Tertiary Education Trust fund (TETfund) is through its intervention activities in tertiary institutions, trying to bridge this infrastructural gap, but its effort can be massively beneficial if creative deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) done. While TETfund has been funding tertiary institutions in the area of ICT; it has become imperative that emphasis is shifted to creative aspect of its deployment to solve the problem of Low Infrastructural Carrying Capacity (LICC) in the tertiary institutions across Nigeria.
The urgent task before Dr Bichi Baffa, the executive secretary of TETfund, therefore, is to develop a template to creatively deploy ICT to solve the perennial problem of low infrastructural carrying capacity in Nigerian’s tertiary institutions. This writer feels that the way to go is smart ICT deployment. Through careful resetting to be ICT compliant, for instance, a university that admitted about five thousand (5000) students last year can admit more than hundred thousand (100,000) this year.
The problem of LICC in our tertiary institutions can be solved in two angles. Firstly, building of smart auditoriums in form of indoor long tennis court, with high carrying capacity, will go a long way in checking perennial poor students’ intake in the higher institutions. By this method, the students can sit comfortably and listen to lecturer as if they are watching tennis match Secondly, Wi-Fi internet connectivity facility could be provided in the tertiary institutions so that students can access internet within their school environments this is perhaps the cheapest and easiest way to get as many students as possible into our tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria. All what a student needs is a fully charged laptop for his lectures in a day. When it is time for a particular course, the student goes into the campus, opens his or her laptop, and hook on to the lecturer in class. There is no doubt this rout will eliminate the problem of “many students failing JAMB”, an excuses developed to hide the main issue of institutions inability to absorb candidates because of factor earlier explained.
Good enough, the current executive secretary of TETfund, Dr Abdulahi Bichi Baffa, has shown leadership in the agency, what he needs to do now is to dust-up the August 8, 2015 memorandum of understanding (MoU) between The National Information Technology Development Agency NITDA and TETFUND on collaboration to improve on the level of ICT intervention in tertiary institutions across the country. He may also need to expand the scope of the memorandum to include other critical stakeholders in telecommunication industry to ensure smooth implementation of this important programme.
Subject to availability of funds for this all important ICT progamme towards getting more candidates that sit for JAMB into tertiary institutions in Nigeria; six federal universities in the six geo political zones can be linked to Wi-Fi internet connectivity with a mandate to admit sizeable number of JAMB candidates into their institutions. The six universities will serve as pilot scheme for this ICT for more JAMB intake programme.
The report in Daily Nigerian of February 21, 2017, that TETfund disbursed N213 billon to universities and polytechnics in Nigeria, is commendable. Equally worthy of praise is that, for academic staff training and development, allocation of N300 million was made for universities and N200 million each for polytechnics and colleges of education respectively. What is important now is for the institutions to be mandated to focus on ICT training for staff so that they can be equipped for mass internet lecturing.
Undoubtedly, there are massive benefits to be derived from this programme. It is not only comfortable to students, it encourages learning and research. It is almost self financing. Imagine a situation where hundred thousand students, in just a single school, pay five thousand naira each for internet connectivity in a semester. The revenue from this progamme will offer opportunity to the schools to provide complimentary power service for the purpose of at least, twenty hours power service. So, Executive Secretary, the ball is in the court of TETfund to solve this solvable problem.
NB: According to Wikipedia, Wi-Fi is a way of connecting to a computer network using radio waves instead of wires. The Wi-Fi Alliance says Wi-Fi is any “wireless local area network” (WLAN) that follows the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11 specification. A Wi-Fi device can work with any Wi-Fi network anywhere in the world..The word Wi-Fi is a play on words with hi-fi, and was invented to replace the name “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum”.
Information Management Consultant and Researcher
Wrote in from Garki-Abuja
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