By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Federal Government, Tuesday said that N30 billion has been approved for the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education in the country.
The approval came on the heels of series of agitations for better welfare for members by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu disclosed this at a round table organized by ASUP in Abuja with the theme “Repositioning Nigeria’s Polytechnics for National Relevance and Global Competitiveness.”
The Minister, who was represented by the Executive Secretary, National Board of Tertiary Education, Mr. Idris Bugaje, Executive Secretary, National Board of Tertiary Education, said the money is intended to alleviate the challenges facing Polytechnics and Colleges of Education in the country.
Adamu assured that his ministry was working hard to ensure the release of the money to the respective institutions.
According to him, “I am glad to report that as part of the realization of the pivotal role of polytechnics to the advancement of Nigeria, Mr President has approved the sum of 30billion naira to ameliorate the challenges facing polytechnics and colleges of education in Nigeria.
“The Ministry is working hard to ensure the release of this amount to the respective institutions.”
He told unions in tertiary institutions to focus more on capacity building through skill development which is its core mandate than on certification.
In his welcome address, the President of ASUP, Comrade Anderson Ezeibe, advised the federal government to discontinue indiscriminate proliferation of polytechnic institutions and focus on funding and developing the existing ones.
The ASUP President noted with dismay that Polytechnics are fast becoming mere constituency projects established to satisfy political convenience rather than for educational development and the growth of the nation.
Ezeibe lamented the devaluation and discrimination of polytechnic graduates which he blamed on ignorance and poor funding for the institutions that has resorted in infrastructural gap, making polytechnics less attractive to students.
He said, “We do not agree with the continued establishment of new Polytechnics on the largely unsubstantiated premise of providing greater access to tertiary education for young Nigerians as the existing ones remain unattractive to young Nigerians.
“Our Polytechnics are fast becoming mere constituency projects established to satisfy political convenience.
“Our Polytechnics are currently facing an identity crisis as we are not convinced that sectorial mandates as envisioned in the National Policy on Education are being met. Our products are underappreciated, discriminated against and traumatized by the prospects of an uncertain future after their training.
“Our members (teaching staff in the sector) are demotivated as there is little or no sense of fulfillment or self actualization in their chosen careers. This is adversely affecting productivity and leading to consistent migration of qualified manpower away from the sector.
“The Polytechnics are nowhere close to preferred destinations for Nigerian students seeking tertiary education as the sector suffers from deep seated discrimination in different facets mainly driven by anachronistic tendencies.
“The nation has equally been reaping bountifully from the tale of woes in the sector as shown by different economic indices which constitute an embarrassment to a nation with so much promise.
“Funding is abysmally poor, leaving widening infrastructural gaps; legal and policy frameworks are insufficient leading to suspect levels of supervision and regulation.
“Curriculum review is Irregular, therefore leaving the sector with obsolete curricula which are out of sync with the dynamic needs of industry and society. Indeed the current unemployment figures in the country tell the entire story of a sector with diminishing impact to the nation’s economy.”
The ASUP President noted that the union intended to utilize the round table to engage issues identified as core challenges through structured paper presentations which would evolve into instruments of advocacy for legislative, policy and managerial reviews leading to sustainable and impactful changes in the sector.