THE National Council on Establishment has approved the postgraduate diploma (PGD) as the bridge programme for holders of the Higher National Diploma (HND) to rise to the peak of their career just like their degree holders counterparts.
In a meeting which lasted five days last week in Minna, the Niger State capital, it was resolved, among others, that the entry point for HND holders into the civil service would henceforth be Grade Level 08, like their bachelor degree holder counterparts.
This, it is hoped, will effectively and finally resolve the discrimination and career limitation that graduates of polytechnic institutions had for years been subjected to in the workplace, especially the states and federal civil service.
The National Council on Establishment meeting comprised the Head of Service of the Federation; Heads of Service (HoS) of the 36 states of the federation; representatives of the federal and states Ministry of Education (who were represented by the permanent secretaries), as well as the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
It was gathered that the meeting also took inputs from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
It will be recalled that until now, a polytechnic graduate with HND cannot be employed into the civil service on Grade Level 8 and cannot rise beyond Level 15 without additional qualifications (including a master’s degree), while his/her counterpart with a bachelor’s degree enters on Grade Level 08 and can rise to the peak at Grade Level 17 (equivalent of the Permanent Secretary cadre).
A HND holder who aspires to that level will have to not only obtain a PGD in relevant disciplines, but is also required to obtain a master’s degree before he can hope to attain the level his bachelors’ degree holder counterpart could attain, even without a second degree.
The removal of this dichotomy, among other perceived institutionalised discriminatory policies, had been at the top of a list of demands by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), the umbrella body for polytechnic lecturers and had been the motivation for several industrial crises in the sector.
With this new development, HND holders only need to acquire the postgraduate diploma in relevant field from an accredited institution/university to attain parity with their university graduate counterparts.
The national president of the ASUP, Mr Usman Dutse, expressed satisfaction at the development.
Speaking with Nigerian Tribune on telephone on Sunday, Dutse said, among other things, the removal of the dichotomy would help change the negative mindset created in the minds of the Nigerian populace, whereby they don’t attach much importance or interest to technical or vocational education.
“In the last admission, 1.6 million applicants applied to universities, but for the polytechnics, only thirty-something thousand applied. Then, if you look at it, the morale of HND holders is down; they are demotivated because their efforts are not appreciated. The value of their input is not appreciated, because what is considered is the certificate and where you come from.
“This is what we have been agitating for. About three committees worked on it, from former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s time; former President Goodluck Jonathan’s time and this time. All the committees recommended its (dichotomy) removal.”
On the modality for the enforcement of the new policy, Dutse said once it had become a policy, any employer who refuses to implement it or continues to discriminate against polytechnic graduates in their employ will be prosecuted.