By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
One of the budgetary proposals for 2010 which was submitted to the National Assembly by the Federal Ministry of Education, FME, is the request for financial backing for the policy already put in place by the Federal Government as regards the removal of disparity between the graduates of the nationâ€™s polytechnics and universities.
The approval of the proposal will enable graduates of polytechnics to reach the final salary Grade Level with their university counterparts as well as other rights and privileges which they have not been enjoying.
The determination of the Federal Government to remove the age-long disparity between the two institutions once and for all is informed by its realisation of the crucial role which science and technology play in the development of any nation, and which will continue to elude Nigeria in as much as polytechnic graduates are rated second class citizens.
The position of government on this dichotomy between graduates of polytechnics and universities was made known by the Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu while personally delivering his address at the 26th convocation of Yaba College of Technology on Friday last week.
Egwu said: â€œGovernment recognises the fact that no nation can develop without adequate technology, and as such, places much premium on science and technology.
To encourage and accelerate technology development in the country, the removal of the disparity between the polytechnics and universities, has become necessary as both sub-sectors have vital roles to play in uplifting Nigeria.
It is our expectation that the present government posture will be reflected in the 2010 budget. Very soon HND holders will command more respect than their degree holder counterparts.â€
This removal of disparity among the graduates of the two sub-sectors is also to be extended to their staff. According to Egwu, efforts have reached an advanced stage in the enactment of laws to harmonise the retirement age of academic staff in all tertiary institutions, and for the running of B.Tech degree programmes in the polytechnics system, adding that in line with the Federal Governmentâ€™s decision to always respond positively to genuine demands for improvement in the conditions of service of workers in the sector, it recently approved the implementation of CONTISS 15 in Federal Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
Acknowledging that the nationâ€™s educational system is faced with challenges such as inadequate and obsolete infrastructure and equipment, constraints of carrying capacity, curriculum inadequacy, weak linkage with industries as well as poor quality of research, the minister of education said that education is a priority in government spending.
He, however, said that as government cannot alone fund education adequately, tertiary educational institutions should begin to look inwards to generate revenue through enterprise, research and development to complement government subvention without compromising standards, adding that President Umar Yarâ€™ Aduaâ€™s resolve to make Nigeria one of the worldâ€™s 20 economic powers by the year 2020 cannot be realised without deploying technology education as a veritable tool.
Just as Egwu stresses the need for the management of tertiary institutions to be highly innovative, he also identifies Governing Councils of educational institutions as having a strategic role to play in facilitating the required transformation of the Nigerian tertiary education system.
The Education Minister says: â€œCouncil of tertiary institutions are expected to familiarise and acquaint themselves with the role the education sector plays in the actualisation of Vision 20: 20:20, the Millennium Development Goals and the 7-Point Agenda of Mr. President.
The FME, in consultation with a broad spectrum of stakeholders has put in place a Roadmap, which encapsulates a 4-point agenda, to facilitate the attainment of the goal. The 4-pont agenda focuses on access, quality assurance, technical and vocational training and funding, resource mobilisation and utilisation.â€
He enjoins all tertiary institutions to step up their entrepreneurial programmes so as to empower their students with the enablement for self-reliance through wealth creation upon graduation.
According to Dr. Egwu, the Marine Engineering programme and the private sector-driven Maritime Training Centre being established at the Epe Campus of Yabatech and Apapa Dockyard respectively by the college will definitely impact on the national economy, appreciating the authorities of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration (NIMASA), Nigeria Ports Authority, the Nigerian Ship Ownersâ€™ Association, the Nigerian Association of Masters Mariners as well as some oil and gas companies that are collaborating with the college to ensure a smooth take-up of this Maritime Training Centre.