By; AUWAL AHMED IBRAHIM (GORONYO)
Science and technology are the two concepts of knowledge that make any country stronger and viable and the practical of these two knowledge come from the polytechnics, not the universities.
In Nigeria, we are more concerned with universities knowledge, forgetting that all a country needs to develop is from the polytechnic practical knowledge.
On the 8th February 2022, the National Universities Commission (NUC) approved the conversion of Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) to Lagos State University of Science and Technology. Many and the government of Lagos State government may think that it was a good path of development, but looking at the chain of world development through skills, I can say that Lagos State has limited its prospects.
The intention of the Lagos State Government to convert its Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) and two colleges of education, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education and Michael Otedola College of Primary Education to universities will reduce the number of Nigerian polytechnics and colleges of education and will increase the number of universities in the country.
A research conducted to find out the number of Nigerian universities in 2021, shows that Nigeria has a total of 170 universities summed up from federal universities 43, state universities 48, private universities 79 and the total number of Nigerian polytechnics is 43, ranging from 17 federal and 26 state owned polytechnics.
Professor Idris M. Bugaje, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) is of the opinion that if a country needs artisans, technologists and apprentice for the application of science, arts and technology for finished products, there is absolute need for more polytechnics in Nigeria than universities.
Professor Bugaje emphasized the need of having more polytechnics and colleges of education in Nigeria to promote driving knowledge and skills to avert dependency on white collar jobs.
The polytechnic education creates jobs and wealth, rather than the thematic theoretical knowledge that university institutions provide.
While universities are research institutional drivers, polytechnics are meant to reinvent and actualize the plain knowledge of universities to concrete products. In a simple term, a university graduate is supposed to be an executive administrative officer to man and supervise polytechnic manpower in actual practical work.
Nigeria can only get out of the woods if it establishes more polytechnics than universities and inject more funds into our polytechnics. To reduce massive admission of Nigerian universities, Nigerian government should resuscitate our comatose industries to create jobs which are solely meant for the polytechnic graduates.
Our NNPC, textile, furniture industries, builders and manufactures are all meant for polytechnic graduates to produce end products.
Industries are meant for polytechnic students and the step of Lagos State Government as an industrial hub, will shortfall its indigenous opportunities to fill the gap of the manpower needed in the Centre of Excellence.
It is only in some less developed countries that universities are given much priority and this is exactly what is happening in Nigeria and the objective has remained the main reason of backwardness of some African nations.
African countries can do much if they shift their attention to polytechnic education and by way of doing this, an incentive can be given to attract attention of applicants.
Recently, in the year 2021, Nigerian Government in its effort to increase patronage of colleges of education, promised to give out incentives to the undergraduates and this can be applied to polytechnic undergraduates.
On the conversion of Lagos State Polytechnic, Professor Bugaje, the National Board for Technical Education expressed dissatisfaction on the trend and solicited other states not to follow suit as it will not yield better results for the country, when the world’s current job opportunity is “Skill not Degree”.
Nigeria is playing its cards at a fault by giving more attention to university education, when there is minimal administrative job opportunities in the country.
The COVID-19 syndrome has given the world a lesson and is still lashing African countries of its effect because of high white collar job dependency, as it is no more a safe opportunity.
In Kaduna State, more than 21,000 teachers were sacked and more than 10,000 civil servants of the state were retrenched from administrative offices and these civil servants only learnt to be administrators which means, it can be hard for them to work alone to establish their working office. But for technologists, they need little tools to stand on their own.
The Higher National Diploma (HBD) and the Degree dichotomy is another reason for university proliferation in Nigeria and this is the reverse of the case in developed countries.
It simply means, some African countries are taking retrogressive step on the path of progress because in the developed world, polytechnic graduates earn more than university graduates.
As Professor Idris M. Bugaje emphasized on the need to have more polytechnics than universities in the country, “Nigeria should gear towards establishing more polytechnics and restore our dilapidated industries to accommodate Nigerian polytechnic graduates,” he said
This is what will define the polytechnic graduates to where they belong as most Nigerian polytechnic students only stand on their own because the places they suppose to work are not available.
While universities are established to investigate, conduct research for new knowledge for people’s panacea and nations development, the fieldwork men are polytechnic students and graduates and if any nation loses its builders to only architectural designers, there must be a problem at the end of the tunnel and Nigeria must rise to this, and what Lagos State Government did was never an excellent move.
Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim (Goronyo) is a lecturer, Mass Communication Department, Kaduna Polytechnic,