The Director-General, Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Prof Longmas Wapmuk has revealed that the federal government is owing students under the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) billions in allowances.
Wapmuk disclosed this at the 2nd Annual seminar for Trade & Investment Correspondents and Business Editors organised by the Federal Ministry of Trade & Investment in Abuja. Wapmuk said that given this huge debt burden and the inadequacy of funding for the scheme, the agency would rather have the government cancel the N2,500 stipend approved per student instead of accumulating huge debt.
He explained that SIWES was established in 1973 to solve the problem of lack of adequate practical skills preparatory for employment in industries by Nigerian graduates of tertiary institutions. He however lamented that the scheme which exposes and transits students from classroom theories to the practical world had not been funded as a result of increasing demand from all strata of the economy on the federal government funds.
He then suggested that the allowances be removed. His words: “Left to us in the ITF, we prefer that we have a cashless SIWES, because students have been taking care of themselves already during the SIWES period and since the federal government is not in a position to give us the money required because of the demands from other sectors of the economy, we feel we should have a cashless SIWES so that ITF can pay more time to supervising the students instead of accumulating debt… There is no need to accumulate debt that we cannot pay because we are not meeting the demand. Most of staff have been beaten and molested over the SIWES debt,” he said.