The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has expressed concerns over the future of technical education in Nigeria with the rate of many polytechnics and colleges of education converting to universities.
So far over 20 polytechnics and colleges of education have been converted to universities by the federal and state governments.
Abubakar Rasheed, executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) had earlier explained that the reason for the upgrade of the institutions to universities was to increase access to university education for citizens.
However, this explanation did not resonate well with the polytechnic lecturers as Anderson Ezeibe, the national president of ASUP described it as a frivolous upgrade and a “manifestation of lack of consistency in pursuit of vision by proprietors of public polytechnics in the country. “Polytechnics were established to produce professionals in technical/technological and vocational education, which should address national manpower needs in such a direction.
This is why the practical component in the curricula for polytechnics is higher as they are expected to produce people with hands-on expertise. This is not the same with universities,” he said.
In addition, he said: “The question for those who are on this voyage of conversion, like the Lagos State government, is whether the need for such manpower has been satisfied.
The principal reason for the poorly-thought-out conversion is because the enrolment figures are dropping across polytechnics due to the discrimination against the polytechnics and their products as well as the rustic and anachronistic policies of the government on degree-awarding status for the polytechnics.”
Ezeibe reiterated that the future of tertiary education is at risk in the country should this conversion exercise be allowed to continue without putting the necessary machinery in place.
“That’s the reason why our union is crying out as the future of the polytechnics is at stake.
Our proposal of allowing polytechnics to attain degree-awarding status will resolve all these issues: satisfy the quest for degree-level certification, deepen technical/technological education through curricula enhancement, retain the expanding pool of qualified manpower in the polytechnics, attract funding, and stop the HND/degree dichotomy.
We are saying that polytechnics should retain the OND certification as middle-level manpower and use the same as feed for a bachelor of technology certification to be awarded by polytechnics in their names as polytechnics if requirements to be set out for this are met,” he noted.
Some of the affected polytechnics and colleges of education are the Abia State Polytechnic; Abia State College of Education; Abia State College of Health Sciences and Management Studies.
Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro; Federal Polytechnic, Ofa; Yaba College of Technology; and the Kaduna State Polytechnic, among others.
Earlier on, the immediate past governor of Kano State converted the state-owned college of education, Saadatu Rimi College of Education, into a university.
Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo State also upgraded the state-owned Emmanuel Alayande College of Education to a university of education.
Besides, the immediate-past governor of Osun State announced the conversion of the Osun State College of Education, Ilesha, to the University of Ilesha.
In the same vein, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State announced the conversion of the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education and the Michael Otedola College of Education to the Lagos State University of Education.
The governor also announced the upgrade of the Lagos State Polytechnic to the Lagos State University of Science and Technology.
Experts believe that polytechnic education is critical to the economic development of a country because it provides technical and vocational training, technology transfer and skills development to enhance socio-economic development.
Colleges of education are tasked with producing professionally-trained teachers for vocational and technical secondary schools to meet Nigeria’s requirements for technological take-off.
President Bola Tinubu-led administration recently approved the conversion of two colleges of education, namely the Adeyemi College of Education and the Alvan Ikoku College of Education, to universities.