Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) has lamented the neglect of Nigeria’s polytechnic institutions which it said has led to low patronage by students seeking admission into higher institutions.
Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja yesterday, held as part of the activities during the advocacy roundtable on the future of Nigeria’s Polytechnic system, ASUP President, Mr. Anderson Ezeibe disclosed that only one per cent of candidates in the Joint Admission and Matriculation’s (JAMB) Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations apply for polytechnics.
He argued that some of government’s policies and pronouncements had helped to de-market the polytechnic system in the country.
He said the country’s National Policy on Education recognises polytechnic institutions as a key platform for promotion of technical and vocational education, noting however, that the noble objective had not received necessary support it deserved.
“The low appetite for polytechnics today is evidenced by the one per cent approximate applicant figures for polytechnics in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations in the last five years as young Nigerians continue to show their preference for the other tiers of tertiary education in the country,” he said.
With 38 and 49 of the polytechnics currently under the proprietorship of the federal and state governments respectively; and an additional 65 run as private polytechnics, Ezeibe said one could hardly feel any sense of mandate fulfilment in the sector.
Responding to questions from journalists, the ASUP President said: “The highest level of certification permissible for Nigerian polytechnics as we speak, is the Higher National Diploma (HND). And we all know what those who have these particular certificates have been subjected to in the public and private sectors of the economy.
“We do not think that this should continue. We do not think that’s polytechnics should continue to have this as its highest level of certification, because that is not the trend in order the loops in the economies.
“We also believe that we have enough capacity, both in terms of human and infrastructure, in certain programmes in different polytechnics to go beyond higher National Diploma certifications. We are really taking the issues serious.
“Another issue is funding. Recently, the government budget was presented to the National Assembly, and approximately eight per cent of the total only was dedicated to education. We have not seen the breakdown to see what is there for the polytechnics.
“If we convert it to dollars with the current rate, it’s just about $3.2 billion and this is for the entire education institution in the whole of Nigeria. Whereas MIT in the United States of America, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the budget for alone 2020 is $3.7 billion.”
Ezeibe who was making a case for an improvement in the status and recognition of polytechnic institutions in the country, said he would like government and other stakeholders to use the opportunity of the forum to suggest ways of further making it more relevant.