Tertiary Education Fund (TETfund), formerly Education Trust Fund (ETF) remains a brainchild of the Academic Staff Union of Union (ASUU). The Fund basically generates its finances from taxes on the profits of certain companies in Nigeria.
The Fund has evidently and significantly enhanced the infrastructural developments of the tertiary institutions in Nigeria over the years and one can hardly not behold Tetfund edifies in tertiary institutions across the country.
The need to strengthen certain areas of knowledge in terms of capacity and competencies led to the idea of sending certain categories of academic staff to some institutions in developed economies with the aim of bringing such knowledge to our institutions on the return of these intellectuals. The program basically focused on Masters, Ph.D (Doctor of Philosophy), benchwork and Post-doctoral fellowships. These programs are completely funded by TETfund at a very heavy cost especially the M.Sc and Ph.Dsprogrammes. The programmehas been ongoing for over a decade now until the recent hiatus announced by Tetfund indicating a stoppage of the programme for the next 2 years because of the rising dollar exchange rate, attrition of the intellectuals and some other inherent issues.
However, this programme has gradually moved from its noble intents to a deadly denouement, defeating all noble purposes and heading into the way of “Golgotha”. It is now a programme that has now necessitated a generational lamentation from the high mountains, calling on all stakeholders to arise because a deadly cancer has eaten up this noble intervention. Alas, gloom and darkness have overshadowed this golden idea.
The malady that has strangulated this intervention is that over 80% of beneficiaries of this intervention, after their programmes, find their way back to these developed countries instead of coming back to our institutions. They do this in the following ways:
(1) Running away for better fortunes after the programmes abroad without serving bonds with their institutions in Nigeria.
(2) Coming back to put in the number of years stated in the bond and resigning to move abroad haven established certain contacts over abroad.
3) Paying back the money given to them for the programme and resigning from the jobs in Nigeria without paying for “time value of money”.
In all, the truth is that virtually all the beneficiaries slip away to overseas after a time thereby annulling whatever aim this intervention anticipates for our tertiary institutions and the nation at large. These intellectuals trained with the collective patrimony of the country silently leave our systemto foreign lands where they expend their useful life, only to be brought back to the country to be buried at the end of their lives. The ultimate loser is tertiary education system in our country and the nation at large.
Therefore, the intervention, the way is currently structured is only busy training people who will not be useful in developing our educational system and country. This, to say the least is a “neo-classical “madness”. For a country like Nigeria still struggling to find its rhythm in many sectors of the economy, spending its meagre resources so blindly on this intervention is stunning and mind-rendering.
The Asian tigers (China, Japan, Korea etc) who employed this model of intervention, meticulously and clinically structured it in a manner that ensured that beneficiaries returned and put such knowledge into use for the betterment of their economies. Beneficiaries can hardly abscond via any guise without hefty penalties. Sadly, the reverse is the case for the Nigerian version. Now, what are the reasons why beneficiaries abandon the system for better fortunes abroad?
(1) Poor remuneration of intellectuals in the Nigerian Tertiary Institutions. These intellectuals after being meaningfully paid while in the programme abroad, find it unthinkable to return to Nigeria and be paid peanuts. This is the basic and most important factorin this matter. Academics have to be decently paid taking a look at what obtains in developed climes otherwise the brain drain will continue. For discerning minds, academics are a special breed of mortals and should be so treated.
(2) Poor/no facilities to replicate the knowledge garnered. Most tertiary institutions in Nigeria are lacking in facilities and equipments for cutting-edge researches such that most of these beneficiaries after returning to the country, find themselves floating and redundant with nothing on ground to put the competencies into use. This is a case of putting the cart before the horse.
The way to go:
(1) Beneficiaries of the interventionmust be made to endorse well-structured bonds with hefty penalties (including withdrawal of the acquired certificates, prosecution etc) inorder to ensure that they return to our institutions after their training and be useful to the system. This was part of the strategies the Asian tigers employed and succeeded.
(2) The Universities working with Tetfund must ensure that arrangements for facilities/equipments are made for certain trainings to be funded in the first place such that beneficiaries on their return will not be frustrated.
(3) Governments’ treatment of the academic staff in the tertiary institutions must be improved upon. Dehumanization of intellectuals by any government especially when they protest is akin to throwing your best brains in the mud. Working conditions must be made better. It is not realistic to just believe that beneficiaries will willingly accept to return to the system if poorly paid with bad working conditions after they have been exposed to more “academic friendly environments”.
I think a country must rise at some points in its journey to tell itself the truth. Nigeria, it is time to do the needful. Tetfund, it is time to wake up. The masquerade should not be allowed to continue in utter misery.

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•Dr. Obasi, Deputy Director, MOUAU Tetfund Centre of Excellence on Root Crop Research and Development