January 06, (THEWILL) – The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called on the Federal Government to increase the nation’s education tax from the current 2.5 percent to 10 percent.
Speaking at the public presentation of 50 new textbooks, published by Nigerian authors under the sponsorship of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) on Thursday, in Abuja, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said there was need to reposition and expand the education tax net to bring about more resources for tertiary education institutions.
Osodeke, who decried the poor attitude of some big companies and wealthy Nigerians on the payment of education tax, insisted that an increase in education tax would enable TETFund mobilise more funds to totally address challenges confronting the education sector.
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono, who noted President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to leave a legacy in the education sector, said in two years the education tax was increased from 2 percent to 2.5 percent and there was hope of a further increase to 3 percent.
”I am aware the current administration has done a lot in this regard. Mr President in just two years has taken two bold steps, I know there is a degree of pushback from industries, from NECA about the issue of multiple taxations and the difficult operating environment, but seeing how important education is to national development, this president on two occasions; last year it was increased from 2 to 2.5 percent and in the current Finance Bill, Mr President has ensured that it is increased to 3 percent.
“I don’t want to preempt until it is signed, but that shows the commitment of the president that wants to leave a legacy.
“Everyone knows that what is happening in most tertiary institutions is through the instrumentality of TETFund so increasing TETFund funding will go a long way in achieving that, whether we can go to 10 percent currently is a conversation that will be held somewhere else”, Echono said:
Unveiling the 50 new textbooks published by Nigerian authors under the sponsorship of TETFund, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said the publications would end the dominance of foreign academic materials in the nation’s educational institutions.
Represented by Goodluck Nanah Opiah, the Minister of State for Education, Adamu said: “Overtime, Nigeria’s tertiary education institutions became dependent on books published outside the country with the attendant consequences of the herculean processes and unfavourable foreign exchange rate.
“It is equally worrisome that the quality of most academic publications in our country leaves much to be desired. It is, therefore, expected that nourishing the culture of quality authorship and the production of indigenous books will not only ensure the availability of relevant books in the diverse subject areas taking cognisance of our local environment and sensitivities, but will also safeguard national pride and reduce the demand for foreign exchange.
“I also charge TETFund and the academia to go beyond publishing in the English Language to promoting authorship in our local languages in line with the recently approved National Language Policy”, he said.
On his part, Arc. Echono, commended the authors, TETFund’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and others for the publication of the 50 new textbooks.
“TETFund is committed to doing this. TETFund has set a minimum target of 50 textbooks per year. I am sure that TAG will also surpass our expectations”, Echono said.
The TETFund boss also assured that the newly published books would be distributed to tertiary institutions’ libraries at no cost.
“All the books we have published so far, the initial publications are going to be distributed to the libraries of our tertiary institutions free of charge. It is the subsequent publications that students will be buying or other researchers will buy.
“We are also going to help them because the ministry has established an education cloud, we are digitising our thesis and records, and through that ecosystem, you are going to have digital copies of these materials. All we are going to do now is to ensure will protect the authors’ intellectual property rights and once that is done, they are going to be available on the internet”, Echono said.
Also, the Chairman of TETFund’s TAG, Prof. Charles Aworh, said the event was epoch-making because 40 of the 50 textbooks were published by Academic Publishing Centres established by TETFund.
His words: “We are witnessing today the realisation of an important goal of the TETFund Higher Education Book Development Intervention Project, which is reviving academic publishing in Nigeria’s tertiary education institutions.
“I should add that among the 50 titles of academic books being presented to the public today, three are from PhD theses of our young academics that have been converted to books. Twelve are multi-authored basic or fundamental texts commissioned by TETFund and written by some of our best intellectuals in the academia, private sector and government agencies.
“These books, though international in outlook, are written bearing in mind our peculiarities and local needs and with practical examples that reflect familiar realities and experiences that our students can identify with. Forty-three of such books in diverse subject areas, identified by a needs assessment, ranging from History, Women and Gender, Literature in English, Communication and Media, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Software Engineering, Materials Engineering, Medicine, Veterinary Surgery. Agricultural Economics, Political Science, Nigerian Legal System, Special Needs Education and Rehabilitation Sciences to Pension Systems, Actuarial Science, Modelling and Simulation, Bioinformatics and Artificial Intelligence have been commissioned by TETFund and twenty-nine have so far been completed.”