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Developing Nigeria’s polytechnic education

One of the embarrassing attitudes of the Federal and state governments in Nigeria is the lack of adequate recognition to polytechnic education. Probably, such attitude is borne out of ignorance on the place of polytechnic education to the overall technological development of the country. Probably, no one is one is in a vantage position to point out this discrepancy than the Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Dibu Ojerinde. Not too long ago, while speaking at the 2nd Education Summit of Igbajo Polytechnic in Osun State, the eminent scholar lamented the relegation of polytechnic education, even as he called for more funding and recognition to ensure the technological advancement of the country.
No doubt, we are totally in support of this submission, especially in the realisation that no country in need of technological advancement can ignore the role of polytechnics in achieving it.  It is a fact that polytechnic education places emphasis on practice-based learning and skills acquisition.  Sadly, the dilapidated state of infrastructures in many of Nigeria’s polytechnics is very depressing and embarrassing. Such a crisis is making learning difficult, as the students are finding it increasingly difficult to access good libraries, decent research laboratories and modern technological gadgets.
The increase in the number of polytechnics, as well as the drop in government and private funding, has also adversely affected the quality of academic staff.
This explains why today, no polytechnic in the country is among those ranked in Africa. The sorry state of these institutions is responsible for the lack of technological progress in the country. It is therefore no wonder that even when Nigeria has many polytechnics that produce middle level manpower; its economy has remain moribund.  The reason is that the polytechnics are no longer attracting the best and brightest students who deliberately shun them for the universities, where teaching is purely academic and theoretical. Moreover, the lingering disparity over qualifications between university degrees and polytechnic certificates is not helping matters, as this has done more harm than good to the economic development and educational advancement of the country.
There is no gainsaying the fact that polytechnic graduates have continued to suffer from the dichotomy as is reflected in disparity in salary Grade Level, especially in the civil service where Higher National Diploma (HND) holders are employed on Grade Level 07 while a university degree holder’s entry point is GL 08. Similarly, holders of the HND cannot progress further than GL 14 in his/her civil service career. This state of affairs is responsible for the lack of enthusiasm among prospective students to seek admission into polytechnics; thereby making these institutions lose their allure.
With such unsavoury development, it is difficult to see how polytechnic education can really fulfill its goal of turning out competent and resourceful technical personnel that would aid the country’s technological and industrial development. It is interesting to note that the developed countries of Europe and America, including developing ones as China and India owe their technological prowesses to products of their polytechnic/technical institutions. The Federal and state governments should therefore implement policies that would give the polytechnics their pride of place.
Allowing a further disintegration in polytechnic education would consequently, do a great disservice to the country’s development. It is time action is put in place   to bring Nigeria’s polytechnics at par with their peers in other countries.

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