Proposed Poly Upgrade: Not About Conversion But Performing The Roles For Which They Were Established – Adeoye

With the increasing quest for status upgrade among Nigerian polytechnic, the Director, Polytechnic Education and Allied Institutions, Federal Ministry of Education, Adeleye Adeoye, has expressed fears of drifting from their mandate. He explained why becoming a university may not be in their interest. Uchechukwu Nnaike of This Day writes.

The quest by Nigerian polytechnics for status upgrades has heightened in recent times. Some of them are waiting for the president’s approval to actualise the goal, having completed the necessary legislative process.

To allay public concerns that the polytechnics will jettison their core mandate when upgraded, the Yaba College of Technology rector once stated that they would not operate like conventional universities, but technology universities.

Perhaps these polytechnics have not considered the flip side of a possible upgrade to degree-awarding status.

One of the effects of the conversion, according to Adeoye, will be the scrapping of National Diploma and Higher National Diploma programmes because universities are not to produce those levels of students anymore. So he argued that polytechnics should maintain the status quo, as they are already awarding a degree, in addition to ND and HND.

“It is like shooting yourself in the leg because you are reducing your capacity. They should rather increase their carrying capacity, enrol more students and improve on the facilities they have,” he said.

Adeoye stated that universities and polytechnics have different roles to play in the education system, adding that polytechnics were established to meet the middle-level manpower needs of the economy.

“All over the world, the polytechnic sector is critical to economic development.”

He stressed that it is not about conversion but performing the roles for which they were established.

He said the polytechnic is a skill-oriented system, and when it is changed to university, that attribute could be lost.

He expressed concern that the country currently employs expatriates for major construction projects because it lacks skilled manpower.

“We are not producing enough ab initio. If we eventually abandon it, it means the gap between demand and supply will increase more. So I think we should strengthen what we are doing and make sure we are doing it well. If a polytechnic is noted for one particular thing, local and foreign companies will be sourcing their staff from that institution.”

For instance, according to him, only one polytechnic in Nigeria trains students in underwater welding.

“So if there is a burst oil pipe, it is only from that polytechnic that the welders will be sought. Otherwise, they will be brought from other countries. So the polytechnics just need to look for a need in the society that can meet.”

He said most polytechnics are already offering degree programmes, so changing to university will not be adding anything new, except the award of masters and PhDs.

“But if you need a PhD, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will produce them. You lecturers and staff can go and acquire PhDs from other universities.”

Instead of seeking an upgrade, he said they should continue their affiliate programmes and step up and even produce more graduates. As the country’s population is increasing, so is the need for technical manpower. With the number of developmental projects across the country and advancement in technology, the polytechnics owe it to the country to produce the skilled workforce to handle these.

Asked if the clamour for upgrade is a result of the discrimination against polytechnic graduates, he said the discrimination is only a perception because the majority of the people meeting human needs daily are those at the middle level.

On the issue of lopsided funding favouring universities, he said there are more universities in the country than polytechnics, and universities have more staff and students, so they are likely to get more funds.

Instead of complaining about poor funding, he said the polytechnics should come out of their shells and let people know what they can do and seek support.

“Funding cannot be enough. What we need to do is to start exploring more avenues around the world. There are a lot of hanging funds around the world for staff of student training or for the provision of modern equipment. The training will be at no cost to the institution.

“Funding is not enough, but polytechnics should maximise the little they have. Let a polytechnic be known for a particular field and perfect it so that it will be sought after. He also advised polytechnics to concentrate on a few courses they would master and make their institutions a destination for such programmes.”

That way, he said their graduates will be experts in those fields and will be able to work anywhere.

He assured them of the government’s continued support for technical education.

ThisDay

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