This move would go a long way in supporting cutting-edge research in our universities and providing solutions to various problems bedeviling the society, as well as positioning Nigeria as a major player in the knowledge economy.
For any initiative launched or any work being carried out, a record of how effective, how useful, how beneficial and how much fund has been expended needs to be properly monitored to attain success.
I am impressed when I learnt that the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund ) has developed a project impact tracking system to evaluate the correlation of its spending on research and results so far achieved.
This initiative is a welcome development, considering the billions of naira being expended by the agency in various research projects across higher institutions in the country. It is no longer news that the activities of the Research and Development Standing Committee (RDSC) of the Fund are gradually and firmly transforming perceptions about research in the country, as the committee is constantly changing a lot of opinions about the appropriate direction that Nigeria must take with regard to research and development in the country.
A while back, I participated in a virtual thematic group meeting on ‘Democratisation of Higher Education in Nigeria through Open Access,’ co-hosted by TETFund and the Training Centre in Communication, Nairobi, as part of activities to mark International Open Access Week, where the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Professor Suleiman Bogoro, confirmed this development.
He further said: “We realised that we need to know the impact of our research and so we have worked on and concluded a process that will help us to evaluate the impact of research grants administered, so that we are not just throwing money at research exercises without evaluating their benefits.”
The National Research Fund is one of the major platforms put in place by the government through TETFund to support the academic community to achieve specific research objectives, particularly in the areas of science, technology and innovation. The Fund recently established 12 Centres of Excellence across the country, while it plans to mainstream open access/science through massive support for research and development.
I believe that with the recent approval of N8.5 billion as 2021 allocation for the National Research Fund (NRF) by the agency’s Board of Trustees, the tracking process should start in earnest because over the last two-and-a-half years now, the agency has raised funds available for research in various fields. The fund raised for this purpose started with about N4 billion for eight years and was later increased to N5 billion in 2019. It is interesting to note that it was further increased to to N7.5 billion in 2020 before being currently raised to N8.5 billion.
This move would go a long way in supporting cutting-edge research in our universities and providing solutions to various problems bedeviling the society, as well as positioning Nigeria as a major player in the knowledge economy. It is however necessary that TETFund continues to lay emphasis on science, technology and innovation to solve societal problems, such as the democratisation of higher education in Nigeria. This would improve more access to research and its supportive platforms to institutions.
While TETFund’s intervention lines on open science include the establishment of Centres of Excellence in universities, it should also consider the establishment of similar centres in polytechnics and colleges of education.
We all know that it is an undeniable fact that the problem of access in the Nigerian university system is both in terms of materials and the admission of students. With more than 200 universities in the country, only about 30 per cent of over a million candidates who apply for admission every year scale through the hurdles.
In this light, I want to urge the National University Commission (NUC) to take appropriate measures that will usher in easy access to materials and open learning to boost research output in the country which will, in turn, enrich our young minds.
Rahma Olamide Oladosu writes from Abuja and can be reached through: email@example.com.
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