A respected lecturer at the Lagos State Polytechnic, LASPOTECH, Steven Anu’ Adesemoye, has lamented the deplorable state of polytechnic education in Nigeria, stating that the governments are confused about its direction.
He made this remark during a weekly online symposium organised by Freelart Limited tagged Freelanews Leadership Session, held on the news media exclusive WhatsApp group. He spoke on the topic ‘Social Economic Growth: Repositioning Polytechnic Education’.
Adesemoye, who spoke at length on the advantages inherent in repositioning polytechnic education in Nigeria, insisted that the desire for polytechnic education should be higher than university; but it is unfortunate that reverse is the case.
“Polytechnic graduates do not need to compete with university graduates in the first place. They are established for different and unique reasons. If polytechnics are well positioned, most universities should be converted to polytechnics by now. But, reverse is the case. We’re all confused. From government to parents, to employers of labour and even the students. Ironically, universities are trying to do the work of polytechnics now, while polytechnics are trying to convert to universities. So sad,” he lamented.
He decried the societal decay, which has eaten deep into the educational system, posing questions like ‘what kind of Automobile Engineering graduate that can not fix my car?’ or ‘what kind of accountant that can’t post debit and credit correctly?’
Giving background into the history of polytechnic education in Nigeria, Adesemoye stated that the earliest development of formal technical education was from the non-governmental efforts of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which established the Hope Waddell Institute, Calabar in 1895. It wasn’t until 1930s, during the world economic depression, that government was attracted to technical education.
The educationist also revealed that the old Yaba High College’s facilities and building, established in 1932, were used to commence Yaba Technical Institute in 1948.
According to him, Nigeria now has more than 197 federal, state, private, polytechnics and monotechnics today.
While listing some challenges faced by polytechnic education, Adesemoye enumerated the albatross of feeder schools, government’s lackadaisical attitude and the not so encouraging attitude of the National Board for Technical Education as regulator.
He also stated that most graduates are now after certification more than education.
“Nowadays, education is a mere social status. A situation where you find students prioritising certificates at the expense of good education.
“The labour market is not also helping matters due to the HND and BSc dichotomy,” he submitted.
The lecturer also said that polytechnic graduates are the most relevant in a developing economy like Nigeria and there is a dire need to rejig the syllabi with the belief that skillsets must meet up with current and emerging needs set. And not the other way round.
“In line with the National Policy on Education, polytechnic education is tilted towards competency- based skill acquisition and sound scientific knowledge.
“But the government is sleeping on a moving bicycle. It’s unfortunate that the government pays lip service to education in Nigeria; especially technical education. What we have now is a disarticulated knowledge system.
“First, not all students must be in tertiary institutions, we need to face that fact. Secondly, in this situation, self development surely is the best development. But the result of this is brain drain.
When it was pointed out that it was generally believed that if you did not attend a tertiary institution, you are regarded as an illiterate, he responded that government only needs to create an enabling environment.
“If you check the first point on my suggestion for a way forward, government should only create enabling environment in tax reduction, grants, loans, etc and hands off tertiary education.
“This may sound ridiculous, but we need to be realistic here. If not for Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), some state polytechnics could not boast of any capital project in the last 20 years,” he said.
While using LASPOTECH students invention of ventilators for example, the lecturer explained that the students were ready to do more with necessary government support.
“Out of nothing, they are creating something to support the government. These heroes of polytechnic education put together four machines that could help in flattening the curve of C19. If you watch the video below, you will realise it is something to be proud of.”
Aside policy somersault, Adesemoye reasoned that the major fact remains that the political elites do not understand that there must be a serious connection between our education (especially endogenous innovation training) and the economy.
On the way forward, the respected lecturer advocated for the total reform in the education sector, which include laying more emphasis on Productive Science and Technology (PS&T) Policy, and encouraging endogenous innovation process.