The Federal Government on Thursday commenced construction of buildings worth N3.4 billion in three faculties at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT).
The Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, laid the foundation stone of the projects in Port Harcourt.
Wike said the projects were the Faculty of Law and the Department of Animal and Environmental Biology in the College of Natural and Applied Sciences and would be completed in September, 2013.
The third project, the Faculty of Social Science building, expected to be completed in 44 months, would have offices, conference halls, ICT centre, a 400 sitter-auditorium, restaurants and shops.
Wike said that the Federal Government was committed to improving infrastructure in universities across the country.
“The shortage of infrastructure in universities is a major challenge that has slowed down the growth of the universities across the country.
“The Federal Government through the Education Trust Fund is aggressively building infrastructures in universities to guarantee an environment that is conducive for learning.
“Education is very important to national development and hence there is need to improve facilities in our universities so that lecturers will have offices and enough classrooms for students,” he said.
On research and development, Wike said that President Goodluck Jonathan, as a former lecturer, had identified research and development as key to national development.
According to him, research is very important because no country can develop without research and it requires a lot of funding too.
Wike said that government had released funds for research, saying: “the funds may not be enough but let it be that we have started”.
The minister said that the Federal Government had embarked on a special scholarship programme that awarded scholarship to First Class graduates across the country.
“The graduates are sent to the best universities in the world to enroll for Doctor of Philosophy (PHD) programmes, and thereafter, return home to serve the nation for five years,” he said.
Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of UNIPORT, Prof. Joseph Ajienka, commended the Federal Government for the provision of infrastructure in the university.
Ajienka said that the project would impact positively on the students as well as improve education in the Niger Delta region.
According to him, the Federal Government has shown commitment toward improving the university system but shortage of funding is still a major challenge in the universities.
The vice chancellor said the payment of tuition fees in public universities could address the funding challenge in the universities.
“Parents should pay tuition fees to sustain the university system so as to compete favourably with other universities in the world,” he said.