N686 million British Council, EU research grant yet to be accessed
RESEARCH Institutions are yet to access over N686million worth of grants from the European Union and the United Kingdom to support research findings in soil science to boost food production in the country.
The Project Director Research Link, British Council, Mr. Anthony Chukwuma who disclosed this during a research links workshops in Abuja on Thursday hinted that the United Kingdom proposed a research grant of 150,000 pound and EU has a grant of 3million Euros for universities, which is yet to be assessed.
He disclosed that the council has being providing grants to interested researchers and universities to go to United Kingdom to advance their knowledge with a view to equipping them with technical know how to impact on local Universities, but many Nigerian Universities are yet to utilize the opportunity.
Lamenting that there is a missing link in connecting the research finding with the real sector of the economy, he said the British council has commenced plans to connect researches of both local and international Universities to drive knowledge based economy.
Notably, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, (TETFUND) has complained that 70 percent of its fund remains unaccessed by nation’s Universities.
Chukwuma stated that what the Council seek to advance was networking of both local and international Universities together on driving a knowledge based economy through research and Development”
He maintained that soil science which is the study of soil as a natural resources on the surface of the Earth including soil formation, classification and mapping; physical, chemical, biological, and fertility properties of soil, is an area experts believe could fast track Nigeria’s food sufficiency target of as the whole world faces climate change threat.
The project coordinator mentioned that British Council has commenced the process of networking local and international Universities since 2013, with the view of advancing both countries to on the spot visit to respective Universities to understudy one another with the aim of ensuring knowledge based economy.
A member of Envirofly consulting Group Akanino Odon noted that the missing link between the nation’s Universities and the industries persists on lack of effective communication between both parties.
He said: “There must be communications between both parties. This must begin by Industries even citing some of their feeder factories inside the schools so that students could leverage on it for their practicals.”
“For instance, in Lancaster University, there are about 23 Environmental Health Companies inside the University, once there is request for a project, they request for some of our students, from there, the students also get their experience and grow their knowledge holistically. Industries and schools need to talk to each other to advance global knowledge and competitiveness.”
“Closing the gap requires holistic understanding of the problem. The reason why the Federal Government develops cold feet on researches is that there is a very little conversion between research findings and practical experience. The reason why the Federal Government would vote more money for researches is where they have seen it has impacted practically on the economy and even growth GDP,” Akanimo added.
He suggested further for an intermediary department that could be called, ‘department of Research Planning’ that would constantly discuss with industries on the possible areas of exploring to link research findings with growth.