Joseph Ari, the director-general of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), says President Bola Tinubu has shown a willingness to revamp the tertiary education system in Nigeria.
Mr Ari said the signing into law of the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023, known as the Student Loan Act, by the president was a clear indication that he had begun fulfilling his campaign promises.
The ITF boss said this at a meeting organised by Forum for Innovation in African Universities (FIAU) in collaboration with Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Rohde and Schwarz, and National Universities Commission.
The forum’s theme was “Strengthening Africa’s Higher Education in a Post-Covid-19 World.”
The ITF boss said there was no doubt that the student loan would open access to loans enabling students to fund their higher education.
“By signing this act as his first executive action in office, President Tinubu has indicated that he is committed to breathing life into our failing tertiary education system.
“We pray that he continues on this path as he seeks to rebuild all facets of our dear country, Nigeria,” Mr Ari said.
Mr Ari said regulators, government agencies, employers of labour and multilateral institutions ought to continue generating implementable ideas for the success of Mr Tinubu’s visions.
On the forum’s theme, Mr Ari said African higher education institutions faced some challenges after the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said some challenges were high dropout rates, increased student debt, extended graduation time and shattered academic dreams.
According to him, other challenges are poor power supply, energy crisis, rising insecurity, teacher reluctance, and school administrators to embrace new technology.
Mr Ari said ITF, in its over 50 years of existence, had ensured Human Resources Development (HRD).
As part of the effort to ensure innovation, the ITF boss said the fund commenced efforts to convert its existing Skills Training Centres (STC) to vocational centres.
He said plans have commenced to convert the training centres in Lagos, Kano, Kogi, Abuja, and Plateau into vocational centres.
Paschal Anosike, FIAU founder, said he was motivated to establish the forum to bridge the African higher education gap.
Sarah Agbor, former African Union Commissioner for Education, said the forum was timely because f the rate of unemployment in Africa.
She said, “The demography of Africa is such that 70 per cent are youths, but they study courses that do not give them jobs.”