Olaopa calls for scrapping of HND

Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Prof.Tunji Olaopa, has called for the scrapping of Higher National Diploma (HND) awarded by polytechnics.

Olaopa made the call at the one-day national dialogue on the Future of HND in the Nigerian Educational Landscape organised by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said that if the lingering professional war between B.Sc./B.Tech. and HND degrees holders must be resolved without totally rendering dysfunctional their originating mandates and purposes, the recommendation of the Heads of Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology (COHEADS) in their 2007 memorandum to the then Presidential Technical Committee on the Consolidation of Tertiary Institutions must be revisited.

Olaopa “COHEADS recommended the conversion and upgrading of polytechnics into campuses of their proximate universities while the largest polytechnics in each of the geo-political zones should be converted into full-fledged universities of technology.

” In so doing – and this for me is the game-changer – HND should be scrapped, while the National Diploma (ND) should be retained as a qualifying certificate for entrance into the new and old universities of technology and schools of technology affiliates of existing universities”.

He added “The design should create two streams of B.Sc. (Technology) and B.Tech., with B.Tech. designed to focus on inculcating technical skills and competences across the middle to the very high levels of jobs and careers, a model which the First Technical University, Ibadan (on which Governing Council I was one of the pioneer members) is attempting to pioneer.

“Consequently, the curricula cum pedagogical remodelling of the OND-B.Tech. certification will entail training for demand-driven end users’ skills, while the faculty will draw significantly from scholars-practitioners/professors of practice corps practical oriented lecturers, those with strong strength in theory and research.

“Within this arrangement, the National Diploma (ND) will be expanded to fill in the space for technical and vocational training programmes, which contents should also embed the City and Guild old certification and learning contents in manner that are mutually reinforcing. This would however require aggressive staff development and facilities upgrade and increased funding to make sense.”

Olaopa stated “The new ND-B.Tech. certification stream will benefit greatly from the German dual vocational training model if benchmarked with action research adaptation to accommodate Nigeria’s peculiarities. The German dual-mode system integrates theory and practice, thinking and doing, systematic and work/factory-based practical classes. Here the costs (when fully institutionalised and functional) of the dual vocational training can be borne proportionately by government and the business community.”

Olaopa disclosed that he was happy to contribute to education sector reform conversation as a past Head of Policy Division and Coordinator, Education Sector Strategy Team in the Federal Ministry of Education in 1999-2002.

He disclosed that in 2018, the FGN announced the abolition of the B.Sc./HND dichotomy, while a 2021 bill of the NASS attempted to legislate the policy pronouncement.

But according to him, the policy pronouncement and series of other policy measures taken to concretize the measure are not very helpful for all practical purpose, nor are the assumptions behind them rigorous enough to be in a position to achieve their objective now and in future.

“If they were, significant progress would have been made to resolve the old lingering professional war that seems not to be abating. Whereas I find it easy to champion a two-step NCE-B.Ed. certification model for resolving the same crisis in which colleges of education are enmeshed, pushing for similar remodelling in favour of polytechnics as dual-mode HND-B.Tech. certification, will sure create more problems and complexities than solution”, he said.

According to him, the orientation of the polytechnics and universities are dissimilar, though it could be made to be mutually reinforcing if creatively remodelled.

“While the polytechnics are by design, oriented to train students to acquire job-specific skills, practical knowledge, and industry-relevant competences as hands-on education required to operate in real world-of-work contexts, the universities’ education and learning emphases are to build research-rooted in-depth and cutting-edge knowledge, one that is designed to enable students develop critical thinking and analytical skills.

“University students are therefore trained to acquire expanded intellectual horizons so they can contribute to advancing knowledge in their fields, through the application of scientific theories and principles that enable innovative solutions to complex societal problems”, said Olaopa.

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