5 January 2013

Nigeria: Degree/HND Dichotomy - Need to Revisit Shonekan Panel


Allow me a space in your widely read newspaper to talk about the never-ending discrepancy between polytechnic graduates and their university counterparts. At several occasions, the Federal Government has talked about ending the dichotomy which, for now, favours university graduates ahead of their polytechnic counterparts.

Recently, the leadership of National Association of Technologists in Engineering (NATE) was reported widely in the news appealing to the Federal Government to release the white paper on the Ernest Shonekan panel on the disparity between Higher National Diploma (HND) and university degree.

The National President of NATE Dr. Leo Okereke reminded the president that 11 years is more than enough time for a circular to be issued in the civil service and went ahead to urge President Goodluck Jonathan to demonstrate the political will to release the long awaited circular.

I also remember Dr. Okereke recalling with grief that instead of implementing the government white paper, former Head of Civil Service of the Federation Mr. Steve Oronsaye convened another meeting at the instance of National Council on Establishment.

A communiqué was issued at the end of the parley that the Office of the Head of Service should proceed to issue implementation circular without further delay. This is where the matter has been since 2009.

Even before the appeal by the NATE leadership, Niger State Governor Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu once called for the removal of discrimination between holders of university degrees and the holders of the Higher National Diplomas in job placement and rating.

Many stakeholders have also expressed concern over the treatment meted out to graduates of polytechnic, especially in the federal civil service. Today, in many government institutions, products of polytechnics hardly go beyond level 14 just as many of them are being systematically frustrated out of the service when their juniors are promoted above them, even though HND holders have continuously proved their mettle.

Today, the Nigerian Customs Service and Nigeria Immigrations Service are some of the government institutions discriminating against polytechnic holders, right from the recruitment stage.

I wish to therefore urge the federal government and even private companies to stop discriminating against polytechnic graduates. This is creating unnecessary animosity between HND and degree holders. The ideal thing to be done is for graduates - whether from university, polytechnic or college of education - to be recruited, promoted and treated based on their ability to discharge their assigned responsibilities. I hope those who are in a position to act on this will act.

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