Senate President Ahmad Lawan and other stakeholders in the education and labour sector, on Monday, described as undesirable the discrimination against graduates of polytechnics in the country.
Lawan and the stakeholders spoke during the opening session of a two-day public hearing on a “Bill for an Act to abolish and prohibit discrimination between first degrees and Higher National Diplomas for the purpose of Employment in Nigeria and other matters connected therewith.”
The public hearing was organized by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, chaired by Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita.
Stakeholders in the technological education including the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, National Board for Technical Education, Forum of Nigeria Polytechnic Alumni Associations, National Association of Academic Technologists, Committee of Federal Polytechnic Rectors, among others, called on the Federal Government to end the dichotomy between B.Sc and HND graduates in the country.
Lawan, represented by Senator Olalekan Mustapha, said, “The public hearing is timely especially towards addressing the existing discrimination between B.Sc and HND.”
He said, “This dichotomy has really affected a significant number of people in a way considered undesirable hence the agitation for amendment of the existing laws to calibrate the standard to attain balance for solidarity, equity and fair play devoid of discrimination of graduates be it University or Polytechnic.”
The National Chairman of polytechnics alumni association, Obialor Ibebuike in his memoranda which was also signed by the National Secretary of the association, Goke Ishola, and other stakeholders supported the Bill.
The polytechnic alumni said, “China recently converted 600 universities to well-funded research-based Polytechnics to further boost their industrial and economic growth.
“The same strategy had earlier been adopted by South Korea. This we believe, is the way to go in the country if we are really serious in catching up with the developed world.”
The association added that “Another sore point is the protracted issue of a commission to superintend and supervise Polytechnic education in Nigeria.
“If the Universities and Colleges of Education have their own commissions, why not the Polytechnics?
“The Senate should use this opportunity to create the National Polytechnics Commission without further delay.”
The alumni association lamented serious discrimination in workplaces despite the fact that the admission process for both the university and polytechnics and universities are the same.
The National Coordinator of HND stakeholders, Sebastien Onyemaobi, in a 34 – page memorandum submitted to the committee said the dichotomy which started in 1955 during the colonial regime must stop.
Meanwhile, the representative of the Head of Service, Dr Emmanuel Meribole who serves as Permanent Secretary, Service, Policies and Strategies in the office of Head of Service of the Federation, said there would be a need for a review of the curriculum of Universities and Polytechnics before the dichotomy could be abolished.
He said while dichotomy at entry-level into public service between University and Polytechnics graduates has been removed, that of progression of level 14 upward is still there, as a polytechnic graduate will have to acquire a postgraduate diploma or Masters degree before advancing further from level 14.
The Chairman of the committee said all the views and submissions made by the various stakeholders will guide the Committee in its final report.