TETFund task polytechnics on innovative, commerical research

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has challenged Polytechnics in Nigeria to change its approach to research and development and engage in innovative research that would herald a greater transformation in Nigeria and its economy.

Executive Secretary of TETFund Sonny Echono gave the charge in Abuja, on Wednesday, during an interactive meeting with Rectors and Directors of Research of Polytechnics on National Research Fund (NRF) grants.

Echono lamented the huge shortage of skills in critical sectors of the economy, an indication that graduates that are fit and meet the needs of the industry, that are ready to take up responsibility and contribute their quota upon engagement are not being produced by the Polytechnics.

He told Rectors of Polytechnics that TETFund will like to see the Polytechnics taking more active parts in solving society’s problems, solving the country’s developmental challenges and proffering solutions that would ease the various operations of the country.

He maintained that no research would be of benefit to a country like Nigeria if it does not translate and apply the products of such research to affect daily lives. “If we are not transferring that knowledge, that creative spark into the production of goods and services that would create employment for our people, improve the standard of living, grow our economy, and activate all segments of our economy, then we are not meeting the desired expectations.

“There is a compelling need for a shift in focus. We are producing graduates in an economy that is underdeveloped. Yet, they are unable to find employment. We are having situations where foreign concerns, foreign companies, foreign businesses are relocating under the guise of not having the right manpower to carry out their operations.”

The Executive Secretary, National Board For Technical Education (NBTE), Prof Idris Bugaje, in his submissions stressed the need for a synergy between Polytechnics and Universities on innovative research.

He said that research in Nigeria is not yielding the desired results because those who are administering the research have forgotten the role that Polytechnics can play in that regard.

He explained: “Research and development is a topical issue. TETFund has created NRF to drive a high level of research that could lead to innovations. Today, in Nigeria, almost 99.9 per cent of these researches do not yield innovations. They end up as journal papers published in papers and cited.

“Therefore, there must be synergy between Universities and Polytechnics if our research and development are to lead to innovation. We need a very close collaboration. NRF must have a rethink and we must allocate certain amounts for this level of moving our research to commercialisation,” he said.

Earlier, the Director, Executive Secretary’s Office, Uchendu Wogu, said that TETFund recognises the fact that research is not a one-man show but needs to be collaborative and multidisciplinary.

He insisted that TETFund was committed to ensuring the adoption of international best practices, in delivering research mandate, hence he urged Polytechnics to rise to the challenge of producing quality research proposals.

“Indeed, the Polytechnics has not shown too much of a good performance, not to say that they are not doing well in NRF angle. In achieving the mandate of TETFund, the NRF was established to address the paucity of funds for research, especially in Nigerian tertiary education institutions and this is geared towards contributing to national development efforts.”

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