21 February 2013

Nigeria: How We Make Polytechnic Education Attractive to Students - Dr Shu'aibu Musa


Bauchi — Polytechnic education focuses on the production of practically skilled man power and its products provide the necessary goods and services for a modern society to thrive. In this interview, Dr Shu'aibu Musa, Rector of the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi speaks on the various ways they make polytechnic education attractive to students among other issues. Excerpts:

What are the areas the polytechnic has achieved academic excellence?

I would like to start enumerating the areas we have achieved academic excellence based on what was my vision of the polytechnic at the time of my appointment. To start with, when I was appointed I had what I called the Four Point Agenda for us to create an industrially harmonious working environment where we have freedom from or we operate without strikes and without disharmony between workers, improve and sustain academic excellence, which is the major mandate of the Third Agenda, for us to improve the institution.

Under the agenda we did a lot to maintain the existing infrastructure and provide new ones so as to keep pace with the recent development in the area of research and teaching. Then finally our intention is to ensure that we cultivate and nuture a very good or a cordial relationship between the institution and the social stakeholders, that is the members of the communities around the polytechnic, especially the social stakeholders of the polytechnic which include the state government the local government all the law enforcement agents and any other person that has one kind of interest or the other in the ploytechnic. So these are the four points we targeted for ourselves at the beginning of my tenure.

Can you summarize the areas that became attractive to students and other stakeholders that help you to sustain academic excellence using the four point agenda?

Well as you know many students prepare to go to the universities instead of polytechnics but when we implement the agenda we make the polytechnic education very attractive to students and other stake holders. We successfully had an uninterrupted peaceful academic sessions free of teachers strike or students unrest. First we created industrially harmonious working environment , like having a robust administrative structure, we use the committee system, in such a way that enhance productivity. We have restructured and strengthened the committees to help the issue of the timely provision of welfare rights and privileges for all staff, like the issue of promotions, payment of any allowance that is due to any staff. We have succeeded in ensuring that promotions of staff come as at when due and are we ensure that immediately after the promotion exercise staff gets their payments. Presently, we don't have any outstanding arrears to pay either for promotions or any allowance that the staff are entitled to, even our pensioners are saying that we are paying their pensions as at when due. We also disseminate relevant information at the right time, we operate an open door policy .

Secondly we did a lot to improve and sustains excellent academic culture, we ensure that we attract and retained qualified staff. We have over 200 staff and we have set up a system where we give opportunity for staff to build their capacity through sponsorship for further studies , or higher degrees or sponsorship to attend conferences and workshops where, I can comfortably tell you that over the years we have sponsored as many as 60 academic staff for PhDs and masters degrees programmes both in Nigerian universities and universities outside our shores. We have 18 PhD candidates right now, we also ensure an effective curriculum delivery. This is crack of the mandate of the institution, in the process we ensure that we deliver the curriculum effectively, we equipped all our libraries and laboratories with the necessary books and journals and the laboratory equipments that are required for them to conduct their practicals .

We also have quite a number of computer labs that are well equipped with computers and all their accessories. Right now we have a portal that is operating 24 hours a day for 7 days, you can have access to our portal any time of the day through the wireless internet system. So is all over the campus, and we also promote research and development that involves the staff and the students, through workshop and conferences to improve their academic culture.

How many students does the polytechnic have?

We normally have in region of five to six thousand students per annum, really I don't have to exact number here but we admit not less than six thousand students per annum, with programs in the HND programmes, the ND programmes and some certificate programme . This is because we are limited to NBTE carrying capacity of each and every department that is accredited in the institution.

We are trying to expand on this to ensure that we admit more students but before you do that you have to provide additional infrastructure and additional staff to be able to cope so that you maintain the quality that is expected. The establishment of new departments and new courses like HND programmes and ND programmes, help us a lot ,we have also established a whole new School of Agriculture, and previously the Department of Agricultural Technology used to be in the School of Engineering under the Department of Agricultural Engineering. Now what we have done is we have upgraded that department and moved it to a new school that we call School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology and in that school we have now established two new departments, Forestry Technology and Animal Health and Production Technology.

In the School of General Studies we have established a course, HND in statistics, we have established HND in Banking and Finance.We have also created a new Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, so we have new departments that have been created in order to expand one. We are also expanding the existing departments by recruiting more staff and therefore our current capacity would increase so that we can admit more and more students every year.

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