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FG to reduce foreign books in institutions

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By Abraham Adekunle

FG introduces 10 new textbooks in higher education sponsored by TETFund.

The Federal Government of Nigeria made to end the dominance of foreign publications in Nigeria’s higher institutions. The move was revealed on August 22, 2022, as 10 new textbooks, which were sponsored by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TET Fund), were launched. The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, spoke at the public presentation in Abuja. He noted that the nation’s education sector depended heavily on foreign publications. He added that boosting indigenous authorship would address the problem.

In his words, “The paucity of indigenously authored and produced tertiary level textbooks and related academic publications in the nation’s tertiary educational institutions is a known fact over time. Nigeria’s tertiary education institutions became dependent on books published outside the country with the attendant consequences of the pressure on demand for foreign exchange. It is equally worrisome that the quality of most academic publications in our country leaves much to be desired. It is, therefore, expected that nurturing the culture of quality authorship and production of indigenous books will not only ensure availability of relevant books in diverse subject areas that take cognizance of our local environment and sensitivities but will also safeguard national pride and reduce the demand for foreign exchange.”

Minister says TET Fund intervenes in three areas of academic publication.

Adamu, who was represented by Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Nana Opiah, said, “TET Fund Book Development Fund intervenes in the three key areas of publication of academic books and conversion of high-quality writing into books, and support for professional association journals and establishment and sustainability of Academic Publication Centers (APCs). It is noteworthy that so far 77 manuscripts have passed through rigorous review processes by distinguished scholars and are ready for publication as books. I want to assure this gathering that an additional 30 books will be presented before the end of this year under TET Fund sponsorship program.”

It should be noted that Nigeria’s foreign reserve has depleted drastically in the last few months. As of early August 2022, Nigeria’s external reserves have been reported to have depreciated by $1.37B, contrary to the claim by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Nigeria spent an estimated N5.9T on imports in the first quarter of 2022. Of course, imports require foreign exchange. This situation has made the foreign reserve currency, the dollar, to become scarce in circulation in Nigeria. Thus, the Federal Government seeks to reduce its effect by reducing Nigeria’s higher institutions’ reliance on foreign publications. If this works, it will reduce the need for foreign reserve by the Nigerian academia.

Can monopoly solve Nigeria’s foreign reserve need by the academia?

While the move to reduce the reliance of Nigerian higher institutions on foreign publications, such as books, journals, etc., has some benefits for the quality of Nigeria’s academics, a case of monopoly will worsen the situation. The minister may not have expressly banned foreign publications, but if this is practiced, it will create a monopoly and a vacuum that cannot be filled yet by indigenous publications. Even in some academic disciplines, the fundamental knowledge as well as leading research in the field must be sought from foreign books and journals.

Also, it should be noted that the importation of foreign books does not account for much of the budget using the country’s foreign reserve. In fact, importation of foreign publication is not among the top imports in Nigeria. According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the top imports of Nigeria are refined petroleum ($7.75 billion), cars ($3.03 billion), wheat ($2.15 billion), packaged medicaments ($1.38 billion), and telephones ($771 million). In other words, the top imports of Nigeria are on essentials such as fuel, automobile, food, and medicine.

Diversity and inclusivity are needed in academics.

In academics, diversity and inclusivity are needed to improve various disciplines. The nature of research and innovation is that it needs to be built on prior findings and research. This is why Nigeria cannot do without foreign publications. However, the government can encourage indigenous academic publications by supporting them through programs such as the TET Fund, Book Development Fund, in order to improve the quality of research and innovation in the country, and not because it needs to reduce the need for foreign reserves by academics.

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