Why HND/BSc dichotomy should be abolished – Rector
What are your achievements in the few years you have spent as the Rector of Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic Kazaure?
Alhamdulillah I am barely two years old in this polytechnic. One of the achievements of my administration is the peace we have enjoyed since I took over though we are currently on strike but the strike is not internal. One area we have placed emphasis on in the last two years is staff development - both academic and non-teaching staff. Through TETFUND, we have been able to develop the capacity of our staff. We have also improved the general infrastructure in the school. I think my greatest success is the increase in the number of academic programmes we have achieved in the last two years. We have added nine new programmes. The polytechnic had about 13 programmes before I took over and with the addition of nine new programmes, we now have about 22 programmes in the polytechnic. By and large, this is a great achievement. These nine new ones are in science and technology, engineering, and also humanities. Initially, we didn’t have any management course but today we have an approval of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to start ND Accountancy, ND Library Science, and ND Mass Communication. Currently, the polytechnic is 100 percent science and technology and I can say we are almost the only polytechnic in Nigeria with 100 percent science and technology programmes. So, if you look at it we are trying to improve the infrastructure of the polytechnic, we are trying to introduce new programmes in the polytechnic, we are hoping to continue with developing the capacity of our staff both academic and non academic staff.
Can you be specific on the development in the area of infrastructure?
Of course, in terms of infrastructure we’ve been able to acquire more land. Initially this polytechnic was a state owned one and if you look at the history of the school, it was actually a secondary school converted to polytechnic in 1991 so the structures we have are meant for a secondary school and the land area is also very small. We were able to acquire another fifty hectares of land in addition to what we have to make over a hundred hectares. We constructed new classes, new workshops, and laboratories. We were also able to purchase a number of equipment because before NBTE gives you approval to start a new programme, you must have infrastructure, classes, workshops, equipment, and of course you must have the required number of lecturers, library and text books.
Can you tell us some of the challenges you have encountered so far?
The challenges have to do with funding. Like I told you, we want to expand and we want to increase the number of programmes being offered in the polytechnic. I would have loved to introduce ten programmes at the time, but of course you know the concern is the funding. If you want to introduce ten programmes you have to spend much. We are ambitious in developing the polytechnic but we are handicapped by fund. Another challenge is that we inherited a secondary school. It was a secondary school converted into a polytechnic, so you can understand that the initial concept of the school was not for a tertiary institution. The buildings we inherited are so old that we are trying to see how we can rehabilitate or even construct new ones. Another challenge is water shortage which we are almost solving. Of course, electricity is another challenge though not peculiar to this polytechnic but I can assure you we are doing our best and with the assistance of federal government agencies like TETFUND, we are doing a lot.
Another challenge is the construction of the multipurpose engineering complex which requires a lot of money. We have spent over N300m on that complex. We hope it will be completed in 2014. By the time we complete that complex, all our engineering programmes will be accommodated in that building. That building houses about eighteen workshops, so you can see how important that workshop is to the development of this
Any student related problems?
When you have a collection of students, of course you will have normal student-related problems which one cannot run away from but for the major one - which is cultism, I think Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic records zero percent in cultism. A substantial number of the students are accommodated in the campus and we are doing our best to maintain them. We have constant supply of water in the hostel. Electricity wise we can’t give 100 percent but we are doing our best to give them electricity in the day time and even in the night through our stand-by generator. In this area, I need to thank the Jigawa State government for assisting the polytechnic with a 500 KVA generating set. It is serving the polytechnic well. We also have a students’ hostel constructed by the government of Akwa-Ibom State under the leadership of Governor Godswill Akpabio. We are grateful to them. The Kazaure Emirate and stakeholders in Kazaure have also been of great assistance to the polytechnic.
What is your take on this dichotomy between polytechnic and university graduates?
It is really a big problem, but I believe that performance is what should be the basis of assessment. Remember that today the entry point for students into any polytechnic is the same five credits including Maths and English, and the student is also required to pass JAMB, but then the difference is in the cut-off mark in which that of the university is higher than that of the polytechnic.
However, a polytechnic student spends two years to acquire National Diploma (ND) and then goes for one year Industrial Training (IT) to get practical experience before he goes back for another two years to acquire Higher National Diploma (HND), which means it takes five years to acquire HND while you need only four years to acquire a degree.
Personally, I think that dichotomy between polytechnic and university graduates should be removed. It should be removed or else you are saying that everybody must go to university and acquire a degree. We are neglecting technical and vocational education.
I was among a delegation that visited Germany recently to study their system of education and the system of education in Germany is dual, dual in the sense that you spend two days in the classroom per week and three days in the industry. They don’t bother much with the kind of certificate you have, what matters is what you can do. Are we now saying that if you go to the industries, what a holder of BSc in Mechanical Engineering can do the holder of Higher National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering cannot do? In fact, in the 70s in Nigeria, industries employed more graduates of polytechnics, so the emphasis should be on what skills you have, what you can do and what you can offer.
Let’s look at the curriculum; are they really a 100 percent different? They are not, so in other words we are teaching the entire students almost the same thing. I don’t think there is anything a graduate of BSc Electrical Engineering in the university studies that a graduate of ND or HND Electrical Engineering doesn’t study.
If you look at our educational sector today, the pressure on admission is more on the universities because every Nigerian wants to acquire a degree from the university, and we don’t blame them because they are told a degree is better than a higher national diploma, which is not true.
If you go to Germany, 70-80 percent of their children go to the polytechnic. They acquire technical and vocational education, and of course Germany is today one of the most developed countries. In Germany, they have less than 7 percent unemployment. This is because they encourage technical and vocational education. That should be our emphasis not paper qualification.