The senate yesterday unanimously passed a bill for second reading which seeks to end the dichotomy between holders of Higher National Diplomas and university degree.
Senators,suggested that as part of measures to address the dichotomy between holders of the Higher National Diploma, HND, and Bachelors of Science, BSc degree, government should simply scrap the HND programmes or upgrade such schools to degree awarding institutions.
The lawmakers used the occasion of the debate on a bill to abolish and prohibit dichotomy and discrimination between first degrees and the Higher National Diploma, HND, holders in the same profession / field to state their views on the issue.
The Senate President, Sen. David Mark in his remarks, said it would be difficult to legislate on the bill, given that polytechnics were not originally established to be degree awarding institutions.
He said rather than canvass for abolishion of the dichotomy, polytechnics should be changed to degree awarding institutions.
“ The problem here is whether we can legislate on this. I think obviously that is not going to work for several reasons that we have all advanced here.
“We can’t legislate here and say you must employ an HND instead of employing somebody with B.SC.
“I think it is more of attitude than what we can legislate on but we can get an arrangement where the polytechnics begin to award degrees, in which case the polytechnics will no more be polytechnics; they will be universities,’’ he said.
Mark, who did not outrightly condemn the bill, said it should be sent for public hearing, to get the views of relevant stakeholders on the way forward on the issue of dichotomy.
He, however, said that “our attempt really to equate HND to a degree is not likely to work. Nobody who has done a degree has gone back to the polytechnic to do HND and you can’t blame that logic.
“The whole essence of allowing the bill to go through second reading and public reading is for us to get more ideas about how to get the way forward.education
“That will be the only benefit that will come out it’’, he said.
The lawmaker however, Citied the United Kingdom and the US, where the HND programme is no longer in operation, the lawmakers argued that it would be wrong for holders of the HND certificates to continue to seek equality and parity with BSc holders when both programmes attract different entry requirements and different duration of learning.
Contributing to the bill, which was sponsored by Senator Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central), Senator Sola Adeyeyye (Osun Central), informed the senate that the idea of the introduction of the diploma programme had its origin in the UK in the 19th century when the programme was established for returnees soldiers from the World War to create middle level manpower in the UK.
He said that country subsequently abolished the programme in the 1980s when it became apparent that it was no longer useful for the economy and subsequently converted all the shools that offered the programme to degree awarding institutions.
According to the lawmaker, even in the US, which is credited as the best industrialised nation of the world, the country does not run any diploma programme.
He stated that going by the fact that the entry requirement for diploma programmes is compromised and the fact also that graduates from such institutions cannot compete effectively with graduates from the universities, there is no need seeking parity with the two certificate holders.
On his part, Sen. ITA Enang (PDP-Akwa Ibom) decried the poor standard of some polytechnics in the country.
He called on the regulatory body in charge of polytechnics to adequately regulate the establishment of the institution in the country.
“I have seen polytechnics operate in two bedroom flats and this is the situation that brings suspicion about the quality of our polytechnics.
“I have also seen standard polytechnics and the quality of their product compete favourably with universities.”
He called on relevant agencies to improve on the carrying capacity of universities to accommodate all those seeking admissions.
He also called for harmonisation of universities and polytechnics to help manage a situation where people went to polytechnics because they could not secure admission into universities.
“This bill should pass a second reading to find solution to the problem. I support this bill,’’ he said.
Senator Sunny Ogbuoji (Ebonyi South), criticised the bill,saying it was raised on sentimental grounds. He described the dichotomy as a structural one that must be addressed from the beginning and handled administratively.
He stated that as long as there is certificate discrimination among the two, people will not want to attend the Polytechnics.
The committee was given four weeks to submit its report from the public hearing.