The Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, has approved the setting up of a secretariat to operationalise the partnership between government, the private sector and academic institutions to enhance the country’s drive towards a knowledge-based economy.
Arc Sonny Echono, Executive Secretary of TETFund, who approved the setting up of the secretariat at a meeting with a delegation of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), led by its Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Laoye Jaiyeola, said the secretariat would be domiciled in NESG.
Echono noted that the move is part of the synergy-building efforts by the National Universities Commission, NUC, and TETFund under its policy of the triple helix approach to research which is anchored on government, the academia and industry partnership.
He stated that the partnership is “to ensure that our institutions become more relevant to our society, to our national development aspiration, to the needs of industry, to solving our problems, and improving the lifestyles and standard of living of our people generally.”
According to him, NESG is the policy arm or coordinating group for the Nigerian private sector and represents the industry, stressing that partnership with NESG is imperative to drive the concept of employability for graduates, improving curriculum delivery in institutions, making graduates of institutions more relevant to the workplace and the work opportunities of tomorrow.
“I am giving a go ahead today, that a secretariat should be operationalized because we need a structure to ensure that this happens; we cannot keep wishing it. We have to have a group. The secretariat will be domiciled with you,” he said.
“Let’s try and find a way of ensuring that we operationalize that and let’s start the work because all that remains, really, is the will to commence. A lot has been going on; about four different committees were set up under the auspices of NUC.”
“A couple of days ago, we met with the private sector arm of the World Bank and they are already also collaborating with us to assist us in an assessment and evaluation of the preparedness, the readiness of our institutions to imbibe the spirit of entrepreneurship, and employability of graduates.”
“They have a template they have built in a number of countries. And we said Okay this type of baseline is good for us, let us even know where we are starting from. But the real coordination of that policy will rely on NESG.”
The TETFund boss urged NESG to provide, a work plan with specific timeline as well as the requirements, the deliverables and targets to commence implementation of the policy direction and objectives.
“I will be briefing my other members and I know the ministry is very interested. I was involved in it from the point of view of the ministry and NUC was helping us to also try very hard; so, we will also ensure that they come on board.
Earlier, the CEO of NESG, Jaiyeola, recalled that talks about the partnership began way back in 2018, stressing that all the issues that necessitated the partnership were still germane, still relevant.
While calling for the setting up of the secretariat, he said it would not only be a platform for NESG but also for private, public sectors and civil society as well as for everybody to sit down together and look at issues as it relates to Nigeria.
“Before you settle down and your pen begins to get sticky, let me remind you that we have a work that has been left undone. That work we both started 3, 4 years ago is still relevant today. It’s relevant tomorrow.
“For us at NESG, we were very ready and available. At that point was the point of saying so how do we have the coordinating Secretariat, which we were graciously willing to provide so that we can see how we can fund it and bring the issues to fore?
“The reason why we believe this approach is important is situated in the fact that it’s beyond just education. It is multifaceted industry involvement that will solve it,” he said.