The age long bsc/hnd dichotomy 1

By Christian Chinedu

As a young, starry eyed 16yr old, i sat for the West African examination council (WAEC) examination and obtained at first sitting: 3As, 2Cs and 2Ps. I wrote only a total of 7subjects, because i didn't want any failure in my result .I could remember my principal then; the late Mr okonji of blessed memory calling the result of my effort," a gentlemans result". My jamb score was low for the banking and finance choice i made, and in any case, i didn't even have a credit in mathematics. And so, with little or no idea about life outside my once sleepy asaba town, i found myself in enugu, a very big city with big sprawling structures and "very big men" with big egos. And there where campuses of higher institutions everywhere. Enugu was notorious for having about five different campus of different higher institutions. I got admitted to study Mass Communication at the Institute of Management and Technology,Enugu. Not long afterwards, i heard for the first time in my sixteen year life, the cliche; undergraduate junior. It was mischievously coined and used by undergraduates in the two universities: university of Nigeria, Enugu campus and Anambra State University of Science and Technology to describe students of IMT. Initially, and in all honesty, i never envisaged any serious discrimination against my proposed certificate in future. I didn't envision any either, from the university undergraduates with whom i, a polytechnic undergraduate, will be competing in future. Among some of my colleagues, where, those who had very excellent school certificate results that made mine look poor and undesirable. During our interactions, i learnt the reason severall of them opted for polytechnic education. There were various. A particular reason given by one, needs my mention. Chinedu ikeazor, was a young man with exceptional intelligence but comes from an incredibly poor family . He found a meager paying job and needed higher education. The two year apiece structure of the polytechnic fitted his purpos. At IMT, a school fashioned after the prestigious MIT in the United States, i was privileged to have excellent lecturers and i was totally satisfied with the quality of instructions i received. In fact in my sophomore year i struggled to cope. We where made to offer over fifteen courses while my friends in Esuth offered less. Same for those in the University of Nigeria.

I hate to indulge in an argument on the need or otherwise for discrimination against Higher National Diploma (hnd) holders mostly because i suspect a conspiracy among policy makers in Nigeria to punish hnd graduates needlessly for making a legitimate choice to attend a legal, government approved institution of higher learning. This is unjustifiable. The question remain; why will a government allow polytechnics to function and in another breath, treat their product with disdain and contempt. Over the years, holders of the Hnd certificate has been discriminated against by government agencies, parastatals and ministries in job recruitment; entry level and career progression. Needless to overemphasis the ungodly treatment melted out to polytechnic graduate in the private sector. The concern of this writer is to query the reason why there is a foot dragging in settling once and for all, this niggling issue by implementing a government white paper aimed at bringing at par the bsc and hnd qualifications and abolishing the age long and needless dichotomy between the two certificates.

A federal executive council meeting (fec), rose in 2007, during the tenure of the former president olusegun obasanjo and announced the intention of government to to abolish every trace of disparity between holders of the two results . Fec's decision had specified that "the hnd certificate should be given commensurate recognition akin to that which all shades of bachelors degree holders enjoy". A no discriminatory enumeration and undue advancement by bachelors holders over hnd holders, was prescribed. It is over 7yrs since obasanjo left office, and the discrimination persists. In government institutions, Hnd graduate job seekers are absolved into service, a step lower than Bsc holders, and they never can rise to become directors- the dream position every career public servant seeks to attain. In a plausible move to assuage the anger of striking Academic staff union of polytechnics (Asup), lead by Dr C Asomugha, all polytechnic undergraduates and graduates, president Goodluck Jonathan set up a presidential committee on the removal of dichotomy between polytechnic and university graduates. Another positive milestone was achieved on this vexed issue, when on Friday, the 4th of July 2014, the presidential committee presented it's report to the then minister of education Mr Nyesom Wike.

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