Olaopa wants HND scrapped as NBTE laments discrimination

Olaopa wants HND scrapped as NBTE laments discrimination

The Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission, Prof. Tunji Olaopa, on Tuesday, asked that the Higher National Diploma be scrapped, to end what he called the lingering professional war with university degrees.
He also asked the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector to revisit the recommendations of the Conference of Heads of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education in 2017.
Also, the President, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Shammah Kpanja, said if the polytechnics must be attractive, the transition of HND to BTech must be welcomed.
He, therefore, said that the Nigerian polytechnics must offer BTech strictly for HND students while also noting that the certificate must be specialised.
Their calls came as the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education, Prof. Idris Bugaje, bemoaned what he described as unwarranted discrimination against holders of the Higher National Diploma in Nigeria.
The trio of Olaopa, Kpanja and Bugaje, among others, spoke at a one-day dialogue on the future of the HND in the Nigerian educational landscape.
According to Olaopa, scrapping the HND would help resolve the lingering professional war between B.Sc and HND, without totally rendering and distorting their originating mandates.
He said following the recommendations of the COHEADS, polytechnics would be converted to degree-awarding institutions, while the National Diploma would be retained as a qualifying certificate for entrance for the degree.
“COHEADS recommended the conversion and upgrading of polytechnics to campuses of their consummate universities, while the largest polytechnics in each of the geopolitical zones be converted into full-fledged universities of technology.
“In doing so, it will be a game changer and I believe to achieve the purpose, HND ought to be scrapped while the National Diploma should be retained as a qualifying certificate for entrance into new and old universities of technology,” Olaopa said.
While lamenting the discrimination experienced by HND holders in the economy, Bugaje said the dialogue was apt, as it would foster an opportunity to address pressing issues that had persisted for decades.
“We all recognise the unique role of the TVET sector in complementing other educational domains and fostering industrialisation and socioeconomic progress.
“Despite the pivotal role it plays, the HND qualification, earned after five years of rigorous study and internship, continues to face unwarranted discrimination within the Nigerian public service.
“Even in the face of concerted efforts, including proposed legislation and appeals from students and staff unions, the discrimination against HND holders persists,” he said.
Bugaje said earlier this year, the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria had highlighted a 22-year-old issue regarding HND Pharmacy Technology, which was effectively resolved by the Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu.
Speaking at the event, the President, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics, Philip Ogunsipe, said the discrimination was a function of societal acceptance of HND.
Ogunsipe said for the problems to be solved, the discrimination in the bill should be taken care of before being assented into law.
“Once the bill is assented to and the discrimination in the HND programme is resolved and finally passed into law, we will not have any challenge with this age-long problem,” he said.
He also explained that the polytechnic sector must think outside the box and find a way of having programmes exclusively run by its institutions.
He charged the NBTE to strengthen its supervisory role, noting that infrastructures in some polytechnics were in an awful state and needed urgent attention.
“The process of accreditation of programmes should be strengthened to provide the necessary and required manpower for the growth and development of this country.
“The NBTE must strengthen its supervisory role to do this,” he added.
In the same vein, the Minister of State for Education, Dr Sununu, commended the NBTE for taking the bull by the horns, by bringing to national consciousness, the need to embrace the global movement for skills acquisition by HND holders.
Sununu expressed the hope that the dialogue would come up with reasons that would not only change the age-long belief in the so-called superiority of other qualifications over HND.
He said it would also show that Nigeria, more than ever before, needed HND holders for national development.

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