World Bank boosts STEM projects in universities with $70million
As part of its contribution to the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), in the nation’s universities, the World Bank has committed $70m to projects in 10 institutions across the country.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day workshop in Lagos for the 22 African Centres of Excellence (ACE) member- universities in Africa, World Bank Lead Economist, Global Practice Education, Andreas Blom said of the $165 million earmarked by the body for projects in ACE Africa, 10 Nigeria universities will gulp $70m.
Blom listed the benefiting ACE universities to include: Redeemers University (RUN) Mowe; Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria; University of Jos (UNIJOS) Jos; University of Benin (UNIBEN) Benin; and African University of Science and Technology, Abuja.
Others are, University of Port-Harcourt (UNIPORT) Port Harcourt; Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife; Bayero University (BUK) Kano; Benue State University, Makurdi and Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB), Abeokuta.
He explained that the World Bank took particular interest in funding several areas of RUN sciences for its exemplary role in the heat of the Ebola crisis in 2014.
‘’They were able to test and turn around the results within six hours. Very critical scientific information that confirmed there was Ebola that allowed the government to quickly respond and contain the virus.”
Blom appealed to the federal government to raise the quality of its universities to save the country from the brain drain syndrome.
He lamented that a lot of Nigerians spent huge sums of money outside the country to obtain qualitative education.
‘’All these talents can remain in the country to educate Nigerians. But for that to happen, we need better universities. We need very good teachers, better curriculum and laboratories, so that Nigeria talents stay and work to lead the nation to solve its developmental problems. ‘
In his address at the event, which took place at Intercontinental hotel, Victoria Island, the minister of state for education, Anthony Anwukar said government, through the ACE experience is revolutionizing higher education in terms of research and postgraduate training.
Subsequently, Anwukah said the programme is being improved upon to accommodate more institutions as well as more Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs).
He said,”I would also like to inform you of the government’s intention to adopt the Disbursement Linked Indicator (DLI) method of the ACE Project in order to reward excellence in the Nigerian University System (NUS).
The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Education will continue to work hard to ensure the sustainability of the project beyond its initial life cycle. Working together, along with the various funding agencies, such as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF).
Executive secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Abubakar Rasheed on his part recalled that the ACE concept started as a dream in 2013, when the World Bank moved to stimulate serious research in STEM, Health and Agriculture, in Africa and raise a critical mass of people who would solve the region’s mounting developmental challenges.
The NUC boss assured that the commission is committed to the actualization of the ACE objectives.
Already, Prof Rasheed said NUC has completed programme, resource verification and national accreditation of the programmes at the centres.
“We are glad to report that almost all the programmes, I think about 96 per cent of them got full accreditation. We would like to see the ACEs and NUS working in close partnership with Research Institutes to address developmental challenges. NUC would be working closely with the Ministry of Science and Technology as well as relevant stakeholders, to ensure the achievement of project goals.”