COEASU Together With ASUP Applauds Echono-led TETFund On Intervention

By Clement Alphonsus

Provosts of Colleges of Education in Nigeria have expressed appreciation to Arc. Sonny Echono-led Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) for its tremendous improvement in the quality of teaching and learning through the provision of infrastructure.

The impact of TETFund’s interventions in public tertiary institutions is huge.

It was therefore not a surprise when academic unions and heads of public Colleges of Education under the aegis of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) and Committee of Provosts of Colleges of Education commended Echono at a recent conference.

The three-day conference with the theme, ‘Digital Pedagogy and Fundable Research Proposal Writing’ was held at the Muhammed Gambo Multipurpose Hall, FCT College of Education, Zuba, Abuja. It had participants from colleges of education across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

According to the President COEASU, Dr. Smart Olugbeko, the event is the largest gathering of academics in colleges of education in history and applauded the Echono-led TETFund for its uncommon and unprecedented support.

Olugbeko stated that a visit to any public college of education in the country would leave one thinking that the institutions belong to TETFund given the number of projects by the Fund on ground.

He said, “TETFund under Arc. Sonny Echono has gotten a new face; a new face that is progressive, inclusive and collaborative. And he has vigorously and continuously engaged and involved the unions in many activities of the Fund. And for a chief executive to be so comfortable and allow unions to interrogate their activities, it shows that such a chief executive is not hypertensive to criticisms.

“It is a sign of transparency, a sign of an individual who wants to develop the system, no matter whose ox is gored. We want to commend the gallant efforts of the Executive Secretary and members of the management of TETFund for repositioning the Fund and making the impact obvious in our various institutions. Without TETFund, only God knows what could have happened to our institutions.

“In the last two years, things have changed for the better for us. Our system has not been able to benefit over the years as a result of the precarious situation we found ourselves in; but we are gradually moving out of that as a result of Echono’s intervention. And to us, we will not take this for granted."

Olugbeko further applauded the TETFund’s helmsman for not only operating an open door policy but also involving the union in monitoring of projects.

He said, “We want to appreciate you because in the past, only universities were included but you deliberately included technical colleges to be part of those that will benefit from equipment upgrade. We also want to appreciate you for the special intervention you have given to special education; this means a lot to us."

While speaking, the Chairman, Committee of Provosts, Prof. Faruk Rashid Haruna, applauded the agency for impacting so much on the nation’s education sector.

Haruna, who doubles as the Provost, Federal College of Education, Kontagora, Niger State, expressed that the challenges facing the sector would soon be drastically addressed.

Responding, Echono explained the place of colleges of education in the nation’s education sector, even as he called for greater support of the public and the private sectors.

He said, “It is in our enlightened self-interest to make sure we make serious provisions for the education of our children because they represent the next generation."

Also, he advised the government to leverage technology to expand access to education to enable students to get learning resources at all times rather than rely only on conventional mode of learning.

According to him, “Digital pedagogy is absolutely important; the mode of delivery of curriculum is changing because you are currently becoming facilitators rather than the harbinger of knowledge that we used to be. Today, Google knows more than many people and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken it to another level. It can even think for you.

“Focus on education is now on the students and it is participatory rather than instruction. So, we must be prepared to make that transition and in that process, we also need to provide the tools, make our campuses friendly to digital learning by providing not just the infrastructure but also the access, data and ambience. There is also a need to train the teachers who are going to make this transition possible. This is because in today’s world, we are not going to be preparing our students to work only in the country; our students and graduates should be globally competitive."

Similarly, he called on the scholars to onboard the Tertiary Education Research, Applications and Services (TERAS) Digital platform, the TETFund boss urged Nigerian students to take advantage of the platform for easier learning in tertiary institutions.

He said the TERAS initiative was developed by the Fund to address critical challenges faced by students, researchers and institutions in accessing educational resources and research materials.