The Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Sonny Echono, has identified quality education and research outputs as panacea for the sustainable development of any country.
Echono while calling on the academia to embark on research geared towards solving indigeneous problems, said that good and effective researches generated in tertiary institutions would solve societal problems and attract industries which would translate the product of the researches to goods and services.
He made the call on Thursday in Enugu State as the 18th convocation Lecturer of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) while discussing the topic ‘Education, Research and Human Capital Development in Nigeria: The Challenges and Missing Link.’
While saying that the link between education and research are mutually symbiotic and reinforcing, he bemoaned poor contributions of African Continent in global research index.
“Africa is the world’s second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. It occupies 20 percent of the earth’s surface, with 60 percent of the world’s arable lands and 30 percent of the world’s reserve of minerals. It is estimated that more than half of global population growth between now and 2050 will recur in Africa.
“Sadly, Africa currently accounts for only 3 percent of global GDP, less than 3 percent of international trade (mainly primary commodities and mineral resources) and shoulders 25 percent of the global disease burden (Katampe, 2022). The continent contributes only 2 percent of world research output, accounts for only 1.3 percent research spending and produces 0.1 percent of all patents. Nigeria is the most populous and consequential country in Africa (215million) with one of the largest youth populations in the world,” he said.
He explained that the bane of research in Nigerian tertiary institutions is lack of clear-cut philosophy and goal for sustainable development of the Nigerian state.
He equally identified lack of research infrastructure, credible and timely data, inaccessibility of research grants and poor governments investment in research as some of the factors contributing to the decline in research activities in Nigeria.
While proffering solution to the above issues, he said that “Concrete steps will have to be taken to address these problems if the nation is to achieve and build the needed human capital to develop the country.
“One of the most important steps is creating the needed atmosphere or environment for research activities in the country by government. The provision of basic infrastructure and facilities, which goes hand in hand with increased budgetary allocation to the education sector and to research specifically, has become imperative. Understanding the specific context and diversity of individual research systems and how it relates to partnerships and international cooperation remains key to effective research and capacity building among the nation’s academics.
“Developing national systems for research to identify needs is also necessary. It is through such systems that research results and local impacts are known and measured,” he said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Simon Ortuanya, lauded the administrative strides of Echono in TETFund.
He said the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, (UNN), got a grant of N5 billion while the Federal Polytechnic, Ohodo, Enugu State, got its approval under his reign.
Also, the chairman of the occasion, Prof. Osita Ogbu, called for the overhaul of the nation’s curriculum, which he said has not fast-tracked development.
In his address, the Vice Chancellor of ESUT, Prof. Aloysius-Michaels Okolie, while thanking Echono for his thought-provoking lecture, said his administration is driving ESUT to be an emperically-based University.
He said that Echono demystified his office as the Executive Secretary of TETFund, adding that he approved the completion of Pharmacy Building in ESUT which would be adjudged the biggest in Africa upon completion.
Okolie equally appreciated Governor Ugwuanyi, for always supporting ESUT to achieve its lofty dreams.