Nigeria’s education tax custodian for public institutions of higher learning, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), has charged polytechnics in the country to focus on producing skilled and innovative graduates that are employable in the labour market.

The Executive Secretary of the Fund, Arc. Sunday Echono, gave the charge Thursday when members of the Council of Heads of Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology (COHEADS), led by the Chairman and Rector of Ogun State Institute of Technology, Olufunke Akinkurolere, paid him a courtesy visit at the headquarters of TETFund in Abuja.

The ES of TETFund, Arc Echono with EXCO/Zonal Coordinators of COHEADS, during the Council’s recent visit to the ES

Echono told his guests following their request that review of the sharing formula used to disburse funds to polytechnics and other institutions of higher learning cannot be automatic because it is established in the law setting up TETFund, and would require an amendment of the law to effect the any change.

He however assured that all special intervention windows available to the Fund would be explored to support the polytechnics towards increasing capacity for requisite skills acquisition and innovation that would make their products fill the manpower gap in the economy.

He said, “However, in terms of special interventions, we do have some elements of inputs that the board has can exercise.

“And I share your view that globally the trend now is towards skills, towards innovation, towards entrepreneurship because at the centre of every discussion we have today on education is the issue of employability.

“The fact that our polytechnics are at the front lines of providing the manpower needs of our National economy places tremendous responsibly on them to ensure that our graduates are employable and able to fill the identified skills gap in the economy.

“But we must ensure that we provide the enabling environment in terms of the facilities, in terms of the right faculty, and also put in place professional continuous You know as professional development programme that would keep them on the cutting edge with their various specialisations so that we can enhance the quality of education and their products in the system.

“We will support some form of interventions that would enhance the capacity of our polytechnics to deliver on this mandate.”

On appeal that TETFund approves the fund meant for training of academic staff of Polytechnics for them to attend a forthcoming training conference of the Association of Technical Universities and Polytechnics in Africa (ATUPA), the ES assured of the funds support, but urged the leadership of COHEADS to ensure that members who will be sponsored utilised the funds judiciously.

The request to assist the Council in completing the project of building its headquarters in Abuja, the ES said that is not within the scope of TETFund’s mandate, since the body is not a polytechnic itself.

He however advised them on what to do and assured that the Fund would support their project on its own in any way possible as the need arises.

The ES of TETFund, Arc Echono, with the Rector of Ogun State Institute of Technology/COHEADS Chairperson, Dr Olufunke Akinkurolere

Presenting the Council’s request earlier, the Chairman, Olufunke Akinkulere, who tabled the three demands of the Council to which the ES responded, congratulated the ES on his appointment, saying his appointment was a round peg in a round hole given his years of experience in the education sector where he preciously served as the Permanent Secretary in the ministry.

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