Some of these students have vowed not to go to polytechnics for any reason. I know people who graduated from secondary school for over four years and have not got admission into the university, although they have been offered admission into polytechnics but they rejected the offer. It is very degrading that graduates from polytechnics go back to start university from first year. Why not, when polytechnic graduates are regarded as mere secondary school products? All these are because of the undue preferential treatment to university graduates in Nigeria.
Now, one may try to ask questions leading to why the polytechnic system was even created or adopted in Nigeria. An answer to this question will probably lead us to what we have to do to remedy this situation that makes mockery of our education system. Was it to train less intelligent students or just to keep people in school for five years with little or no gain or to come and face unjust disparity in the labour market, especially in big companies or banks if you are opportune to be employed?
The polytechnic system was originally adopted or rather inherited from our colonial master. However, our colonial master, the UK, where we copied the polytechnic system from, intended the system not to be more than intermediate institution to train technologists and middle-level manpower. So, the UK system of education limited the HND to be only equivalent to a bachelor’s degree without honours, that is the lowest rank in the British university system which is a ‘pass.’ This means that the HND is only equivalent to a pass in the university system, even if it is the best grade in polytechnic which is distinction.
This unjust disparity continued to create ill-will in the British educational sector until 1992 when it was abolished under the Higher Education Act, hence all the polytechnics in the UK were subsequently elevated to conventional universities. So, there are no polytechnics awarding HND in the UK now as they all award degrees or their equivalent.
It is very clear why the polytechnic system in Nigeria is the way it is and until the appropriate thing is done, this disparity will continue to widen and the value of polytechnic certificates must continue to depreciate if we do not correct it now. If the British can abolish theirs over 20 years ago, what are we waiting for?
Only very few students seeking admission into the university would want to go to the polytechnic and this is only after such students have tried unsuccessfully in gaining admission into the university or the parents are not financially stable. Almost all the students in the polytechnics are there on second choice that is after they have tried the university. Some of the students in the polytechnics choose there because of their age, so that they can obtain National Diploma, ND, within two years against university which is a minimum of four years.
The polytechnic system is really degrading and time-wasting. Every student in the polytechnic spends a minimum of five years to get his or her HND which will take another two years after the compulsory one year youth service to go for post graduate diploma which would be degree equivalent. Meanwhile, the degree holder spends only four years except for engineering courses or Medicine which could take five years and above.
While a university student spends an average of four to five years as the case may be to obtain a degree, a polytechnic student spends a minimum of eight years including one year compulsory youth service. Eight years to just obtain a degree that people spend two years to acquire in other countries. That’s really ridiculous and time wasting. This does not mean that all the polytechnic students or graduates are dummies; not at all. Polytechnics are very good and if not mistaken even far better than some universities in Nigeria.
To be continued... See Unjust Disparity Between Polytechnic and University Graduates in Nigeria - Chukwuma Nwali, Part 2
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