Minister of Education, Prof. Ruquayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, said Thursday that the federal government had so far disbursed about N109.4 billion to Universities, Polytechnics and State Colleges of Education under the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to boost manpower development and enhance quality of education.
She also disclosed that the sum of N15 billion had been spent on all 51 Federal and State Polytechnics for the development and rehabilitation of their laboratories while 58 federal and state colleges of education had benefited from the construction of Micro-Teaching Laboratories valued at N11.6 billion.
Meanwhile, the minister has expressed optimism that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which is currently on strike may call off the industrial action at the end of a meeting between the Union and the federal government today.
However, the monetary initiatives are aimed at bringing the facilities to match the 21st Century standard as well as enhance the application of modern technology in the teaching process.
Speaking in Abuja at the Dissemination of the World Bank Report on Education and Skills Policy Note in Nigeria, Rufai also said a total of N4.7 billion had been provided to each of the 12 newly established federal universities, adding that while nine of them had commenced academic activities, four are expected to begin in 2014.
She said the interventions were parts of the efforts by government towards addressing the challenges in the education sector, noting that it would require partnership with non-government agencies to achieve greater success.
The minister also noted that the current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan reco-gnised the invaluable role which education plays in national development and poverty reduction.
“Central attention is given to education and human capital development as a key component towards ensuring the future progress of Nigeria. As Nigeria grows in all spheres of endeavour, we require the skilled manpower to drive diverse sectors of the economy. This will enhance our global competitiveness, ensuring mobility of labour and ultimately safeguarding the economic, social and political well-being of our citizens,” she said.
Speaking on the ASUU crisis, Rufai said: “Government has no option but to make efforts to resolve ASUU crisis. The President is concerned and everybody is concerned.
Definitely, efforts would have to be made to have students back in classes. So we are still pleading with ASUU to call off the strike.”