The Senate yesterday passed for second reading, the Bill seeking to end the dichotomy between holders of Higher National Diploma (HND) and Bachelors Degree in the labour market by both public and private employers.
The passage of this Bill for second reading has therefore raised fresh hope for an end to the ongoing discrimination against holders of Higher National Diploma (HND) in the labour market, which they have variously protested against.
While debating the Bill, which was sponsored by Ayo Akinyelure, the senators also called for the merging of polytechnics with universities so that they can be degree awarding institutions as a way of ending the discrimination.
The bill was subsequently referred to the Committee on Education for further legislative work and should be resubmitted to the Senate plenary in four weeks.
Leading debate on the Bill, the sponsor, Akinyelure, stated that the aftermath of continuing injustices, disparity and discrimination meted on products of polytechnics in Nigeria is threatening to derail the nation’s core policy thrust of evolving a technological and scientifically based self sufficient and self – reliant society.
He also expressed concern that if this occurs, there is bound to be a vacuum created in our labour market in this regard and dire consequences are bound to follow this trend.
He also cited instances where degree holders are given executive/superintendent cadre assignments, the HND holders are treated as minors and sometimes posted to perform guard duties in the residence of some senior officers and retired officers.
In his contribution, Ahmad Lawan (Yobe APC) stated that the dichotomy in both qualifications is one area that requires genuine reforms, saying that the discrimination is counterproductive.
He stressed the need to get the best out of everyone, adding that Nigeria stands to gain more if the dichotomy is abolished.
Olusola Adeyeye, who sharply disagreed that polytechnics should be at par with universities, narrated how the diploma certificate came into existence to provide middle manpower services.
He cited the case of the United Kingdom who have abolished their Polytechnics, saying “let us make all of them universities focusing on technological advancement”.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, also stressed the need to expand the knowledge base of polytechnics, set up technical schools in all the states to meet the demands for technical services in the country.
He lamented that the greatest bane of polytechnic education in Nigeria is lack of focus, pointing out that they offer every subject and discipline in the world.
To this end, he added that it is going to be very difficult to abolish the HND/BSc dichotomy, since the fundamental nature of the issue is such that no law can compel private employers to give equal recognition and treatment to holders of both qualifications.
In his remarks, the Senate President, David Mark, noted the different points made on both sides of the divide, but pointed out that the common fact remains that the entry requirements for universities and polytechnics are different.
He therefore argued that it is not about the products, but the individual that matters, saying that all institutions produce quacks and good graduates.
“The curriculum is where the problem is and not the nomenclature”, added, saying that what the bill is seeking to achieve may not work, but that an arrangement can be made for polytechnics to begin to award degrees.