By Fred Ezeh
Former Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai, has said that her 41 months’ tenure as the minister in charge of education witnessed unprecedented transformation in the sector, resulting in the reinforcement of the foundation built by her predecessors for posterity.
This, she said, was evident in the significant increase in infrastructure via the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) in various institutions, including the 12 new federal universities, established under her watch.
Other achievements, according to her, inclided interventions from international and local donor agencies and the successful push for an upward review of budgetary allocation to education, in line with the UNESCO recommendation of 26 per cent of annual national budget.
The ex-minister, who spoke through a book titled “41 Months of Service as Nigeria’s Minister of Education,” attributed the achievements to the support and co-operation of the staff and management of the ministry, as well as the unflinching support she enjoyed from the then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
The book, jointly compiled by Prof. Sagir Adamu Abass, Dr. Mustapha Muhammed Jarimi and Alhaji Yakubu Abass, noted that the sincerity and commitment of the ex-minister to education development resulted in a N4.8 billion grant for special need education providers.
The ex-Minister highlighted that the Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development (PRESSID), which she initiated, achieved its objective of supporting the growth of human capital through the sponsorship of Nigerian students that graduated with a first class degree to any of the top 100 universities in the world.
She said that the scheme, which came into force in January 2012, had recorded a total of 307 graduates that were awarded the scholarship in three editions.
Though she admitted challenges, particularly in the areas of industrial harmony in tertiary institutions, issues of unequal commitment of states on the access of UBEC funds and bureaucratic bottlenecks, among others, Rufai insisted that her tenure as Minister of Education was widely adjudged the golden period of education in Nigeria, considering the foundation it had laid.