The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has called on Polytechnics and colleges of education in the country to up their games in academic programmes’ innovation so as  to position the country on the path of rapid development.

Executive Secretary of TETFund, Professor Suleiman Bogoro, made the call at a capacity building workshop for heads of selected institutions and staff of TETFund Centres of Excellence on Tuesday in Abuja.

Bogoro, who said there are indices that are globally associated with Centres of Excellence, especially in bringing about innovation and development, said the two-day event was organised to ensure proper understanding of the concept of the centres by those that will be in charge of them.

Bogoro called on the Centres of Excellence in the polytechnics to focus on skills development, entrepreneurship and starts-up even as he lamented that most of the low and medium skilled jobs in the country are being handled by people from Francophone countries.

“For the polytechnics, the centres of excellence are to focus on skills development and support entrepreneurship, start ups.

“In areas of competitive advantage and you know that skills development is central, it is fundamental. If you miss that area, if your polytechnics does not have the capacity to develop skills or the entrepreneural ability of its students and researchers,  then it has failed the nation.
“That is the area that has been very worrisome for us each time we reflect. It is very embarrassing that in Nigeria, if you go to construction sites, it has improved recently, believe me, Some ten years back,  you will likely  see Francophone personnel that are at construction site more than Nigerians, that shows something is missing, but the polytechnics are trying to address it,” Bogoro said.

While saying the Centres of Excellence in the colleges of education will focus on relevant pedagogical development, the TETFund boss said  beneficiary centre will get about two million dollars.

Also speaking at the event, which also  had in attendance experts from the World Bank-sponsored African Centres of Excellence in universities, Executive Secretary of National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Prof. Idris Muhammad Bugaje, commended Bogoro for his passion for institutionalisation of Research and Development.

Bugaje, who said Bogoro’s name would be written in gold if the history of the country’s academic community will be written, said polytechnics must wake up to their responsibility of producing skilled manpower in the country.

The NBTE boss expressed serious concerns that most major infrastructure projects in the country are being dominated by skilled personnel from other countries.

“There is need for our polytechnics to be focused on skills training, that is why we say from 2023, NBTE shall never go for any accreditation to any polytechnic where there is not a single skills training centre,” Bugaje said.

Recall that TETFund  had recently established Centres of Excellence in six polytechnics and six colleges of education.

The beneficiary institutions  selected equally from each of the six geo-political zones in the country are; Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, Nasarawa State; Federal College of Education, Pankshin, Plateau State (North Central), Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, Bauchi State, Federal College Education, Yola, Adamawa State, (North East), Federal Polytechnic, Kaduna, Kaduna State, Federal College of Education, Zaria, Kaduna State (North-West).

The South-East has Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Imo State and the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State. The South-South’s beneficiaries include Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State and Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku, Rivers State while Yaba College of Technology, Lagos and Adeyemi College Education, Ondo State made it from the South-West.