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Unable to fund existing institutions, Nigerian govt establishes three new polytechnics

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Wednesday, April 13th, 2022
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By Qosim Suleiman

Two months into the shutdown of the public universities following a strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Nigerian government on Tuesday announced the establishment of three new polytechnics.

The federal ministry of education, in a statement by its director of press, Ben Goong, said President Muhammadu Buhari approved the three polytechnics to be located in Kabo, Kano State; Umunnoechi, Abia State, and Orogun, Delta State.

The announcement comes amidst industrial action by lecturers and other university’ workers’ unions under the umbrella of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Allied Institutions (NASU). The non-academic workers’ strike entered its third week on Monday while the ASUU strike has been on for about two months.

The announcement is also coming at a time stakeholders in the education sector, and particularly the workers’ unions, have continued to kick against what they described as proliferation of tertiary institutions in the country.

They said the existing academic institutions are poorly funded, and faulted what they termed politicisation of education in the country.

A significant part of the grievances of the workers’ unions of universities, polytechnics and colleges of education is the frequency with which the Nigerian government at both the federal and state levels establish new academic institutions.

They said the new institutions are established without adequate planning and evidence of sustainability strategies.

New polytechnics

Tuesday’s statement said the establishment of the new institutions is in line with the determination of the Buhari-led administration to make tertiary education more accessible to young Nigerians.

The statement added that the new institutions are to commence academic activities in October 2022.

“This brings to thirty six (36) the number of federal polytechnics in the country. All states of the federation now have one federal polytechnic each,” the statement reads in part.

Polytechnic education

Findings by PREMIUM TIMES through the data of the annual application for the unified tertiary matriculation examination (UTME), indicate a sharp decline in enrollment in polytechnics.

The larger percentage of UTME candidates opt for universities while few choose polytechnics, colleges of education and monotechnics.

While there had been many failed attempts by both the federal and some state governments to upgrade some polytechnics to universities, the Lagos State Government recently announced the metamorphosis of its owned Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) to Lagos State University of Science and Technology (LASUSTECH).

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the special adviser on education to Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Tokunbo Wahab, said the key performance indicators revealed that the polytechnic education has lost its relevance.

Mr Wahab, who linked the dwindling enrollment figures into the polytechnics to what he described as the disparity between the certificates awarded by the polytechnics and the university degrees, also argued that polytechnic education is no longer relevant in the 21st century.

“Sincerely yours, we need to call a spade a spade; NCE, OND and HND are simply no longer relevant,” Mr Wahab said, adding; “The discrimination against them in the labour market is too much.”

“And if I should ask, why do you think the British, which bequeathed this system of education to us, scrapped its polytechnics more than 30 years ago? It is because they saw the future ahead of time,” Mr Wahab said.

When asked about the production of middle-level manpower for the economy, the governor’s aide said the state is now rebuilding its technical schools to meet the needs of the smart city that the government is passionate about building.

Premium Times

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