HND-BSc dichotomy: Attempting to balance a discriminatory policy

Written by on July 15, 2021

The Senate had recently passed a bill prohibiting employers in the country from discriminating between first degree and HND holders. Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, said the passage of the bill would serve as a motivation to HND holders from polytechnics.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Joint Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters as well as Tertiary institutions and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).

Chairman of the Joint Committee, Ibrahim Shekarau, said the development would free holders of HND from stagnation and ensure balanced treatment with their counterparts from other higher tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

He added that the scrapping of the dichotomy would meet the huge manpower needs of Nigerians, ensure social justice and enhanced corporate governance, as well as encourage patriotic contributions among HND employees in both public and private sectors.

The practice in the civil service was that while entry level graduate with Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) start on salary grade level 8, the HND counterpart had to go a level lower; in security service, a B.Sc holder would be a commissioned officer, while an HND holder would remain a step lower; an HND graduate was not expected to go higher than GL 13 (jam bar), while a B.Sc graduate has no limit.

In July 2016, the Federal Government had expressed its intention to end the dichotomy between HND and B.Sc holders – when the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, spoke at the 32nd combined convocation and diamond jubilee celebration of Kaduna Polytechnic.

Abolishing the dichotomy has been a subject of constant demand, particularly from Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP).
ASUP Chairman, Yaba College of Technology, Mr Remi Ajiboye, who expressed delight at the bill’s passage, said the dichotomy ought not to be there at all.

He said: “I do not understand the basis for the dichotomy in the first place; if it has been scrapped, it is a welcome development.”

On his part, a former National President of ASUP, Mr Chibuzo Asomugha, said the passage of the bill was a step in the right direction. He added that the focus should be on the capabilities of certificate holders.

Asomugha said the removal of the dichotomy would require revisiting the curriculum of HND programmes to address lapses. He appealed that the quality of education in polytechnics should justify the gesture.

Public Relations Officer, The Polytechnic Ibadan, Alhaji Soladoye Adewole, said there was no basis for the dichotomy in the first place.

Adewole said the nation’s educational system was copied from United Kingdom, which had since reviewed its system when discrimination set in between polytechnic and university graduates.

“I commend those behind this move but I also want to advise that polytechnic graduates should not rest on their oars. They should strive to get the necessary additional certificates to make them relevant in whatever field they are.

“Add value and upgrade yourself on your job as development is a continuum. The ball is now in the court of the President to assent to the bill, once this is done, nobody would be able to contravene the law and go free,” Adewole said.

A lecturer at Osun State Polytechnic, Thomas Ijiola, said the bill would not necessarily solve the challenges of underdevelopment and skills gap in the workplace in Nigeria.

Ijiola noted that converting polytechnic to university would not solve the myriads of problems confronting the country; rather each tertiary institution is expected to deliver on the mandate establishing it.

He stated that issues such as functionality and capabilities of the various institutions and their faculties should be brought to bear in improving the quality of education.

If government can regulate the dichotomy in its establishments first, then every other sector of the economy can then do the same.

“There are various government agencies and parastatals with different degrees of emoluments paid to workers and so harmonisation of salary scales is needed if dichotomy is to be addressed.

“There are other bills such as this one, which stated the percentage of the physically challenged people that should be employed but is it being followed? So, the issue is not passage of the bill but critically looking at how to bridge the skills gap and provide equal platform for workers to earn their pay. Most employers now pay you for what you can do. That is the value you brought to bear in the workplace and not your certificate,” Ijiola added.

An employer of labour, Fidelis Agbim, said the dichotomy had been an issue for a long time as degree holders have an edge over their HND counterparts. He said employers of labour give priority to university graduates because they are seen as more qualified in the work place.

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