Polytechnic Students, Staff Beg Buhari To End HND, B.Sc Disparity. Relief came to students in polytechnic on Wednesday, July 29, 2015, when the Registrar of Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, said President Muhammadu Buhari, was willing to implement the waiver that would end the B.Sc and HND dichotomy. According to the JAMB boss, President Buhari while receiving the updated report on the B.Sc and HND saga which was presented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, MacJohn Nwaobiala in which he (Ojerinde) was part of the delegation, showed that the president demonstrated willingness to end the imbroglio.
Academic staffs, students and graduates of polytechnics welcomed the news with joy. But beneath the façade of their celebration lay the nagging fear whether the present government would be bold enough to address this prolonged issue? Will it not be another political promise as usual?
Their fears were hinged on the fact that in 2005, the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo announced a new policy to end the dichotomy that has pitched HND graduates against their more favoured graduates from the universities and made the HND certificate holders victims of discrimination in promotion and job prospects. But 10 years after, nothing has been done. HND holders are still being discriminated against in the labour market.
Few years ago, the Academic Staff of Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) embarked on an industrial action that lasted for 11 months. The union among other things demanded an end to the disparity between HND and B.Sc certificates in the country. The federal government on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 inaugurated a 12-man technical committee to review the issue, which has hindered career progression of HND holders in the core civil service system.
Speaking during the inauguration, the former Supervising Minister of Education now River State Governor, Nyesom Wike, stated that part of the committee’s terms of reference would be to review the curriculum of the HND programme, to establish a course that would pave the way for recognition of HND to reach the highest-grade level in public service and to design a programme to enable polytechnics award B-Tech degree, which is equivalent to that of universities.
A Bill for an Act to Abolish and Prohibit Dichotomy and Discrimination Between First Degrees and the Higher National Diploma in the Same Profession/Field and Related Matters,” on 22nd, October 2014 passed the second reading. The bill, which was sponsored by the former Senator representing Ondo Central, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, is still waiting in the chambers.
Speaking to Campus Sun on the need for the Buhari-led administration to address this prolonged controversy, the National Internal Auditor of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Mr Joel Fagbohun, said the union had severally criticized the idea of setting different cut-off marks for the two sectors by JAMB. He said: “The JAMB cut-off mark for admission into universities is still 180 while that of polytechnics is 150. Does that really demonstrate the willingness of the Federal Government and JAMB to end the dichotomy?”
Speaking further, Fagbohun said there is still a long way to go in ending the disparity, noting that people’s mindset in seeing university degree as superior to HND remained unchanged.
Also, Mr Tunji Owoeye, the ASUP Chairman, Federal Polytechnic, Ado- Ekiti, urged the present administration to match its words with action and end the discrepancy between HND and B.Sc certificates.
He said: “It is unfortunate that past administrations lack the political will to implement various committee reports on this. Students are disillusioned even before they get into the polytechnics, hence the few number of students that desire it as first choice. Nigeria’s technological growth depends on the level of investment in the polytechnic sector.”
Owoeye appealled to President Muhammed Buhari to allow the polytechnic system to develop along its policies. He also urged the Federal Government to allow polytechnics award higher degrees up to PhD level in their fields to check the brain-drain of academic staff to the varsities.
Aminat Adesanya, a Computer Science student, Yaba College of Technology, said ending the disparity between the two certificates would be a great achievement by the present leadership.
“In YABATECH, we have a lot of facilities and well-equipped laboratories which most universities in the country don’t have. Also, in terms of practical, polytechnic students are the best. So, Buhari should kindly stop this discrimination”, she said.
For Adetoun Ajagunna, an ND 1 Mass Communication student, Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Ondo State, graduates from polytechnics are better skilled than those from universities.
“We gain both the theoretical aspects and practical experience. What a 300 level student of Mass Communication in a university does is what our ND 2 students are doing here. So, segregating us in the labour market is very bad,” he said.
Adetoun appealed to the President to stop the disparity, and not push it to the sideline as was done by previous administrations.
For Olayemi Gbolagade, ND 2 Quantity Surveying student, Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti, effecting the change would reduce the pressure on universities by admission seekers. According to him, applicants would choose polytechnics as their first choice, instead of running to the universities with limited carrying capacity.
Oluwatobi Nurudeen Ogunnusi, a graduate of Statistics from the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro said ending the disparity would also enhance technological growth in Nigeria, as more students would go for skill-oriented courses offered in polytechnics.
“Rating of HND degree as third class must stop. Moreover, the federal government should review the Polytechnic Act and build another institution for middle level manpower,” he said.
Also speaking, Abidemi Rasaq from the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun State, said ending the disparity would raise the esteem of polytechnic education in the country. He urged Buhari to implement his change mantra in the polytechnic sector.
“If B.Tech is awarded to polytechnic graduates, what happens to institution like FUTA, FUTO who are already issuing same? Will there be a change of name? To me, the problem is not about the federal government bridging the gap but the problem lies on the employer of labour, who will still look at the name of institution that doled out the certificate. That attitude will make the discrimination to continue”, he continued.
In his reaction, the Senate President, National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) and a student of the Federal Polytechnic, Offa, Salahudeen Lukman, urged the federal government to stop the disparity without further delay.
He said: “When some companies advertise vacancies with the condition of Bsc/BTECH only, are they trying to tell us, polytechnic students that graduate from universities are better. They make polytechnic graduates spend more years in postgraduate programme, insisting on PGD before one can do his Masters. Personally, I will be glad if HND can be converted to B.TECH. We have had enough of this discrimination”.
Sent to schoolwatch.com.ng by Temitope, a student of Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti.
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