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New Polytechnic Service Scheme likely to deepen marginalisation of HND holders, FPTB ASUP warns

The Federal Polytechnic Bauchi Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has voiced significant concerns about the potential marginalisation of Higher National Diploma (HND) holders.

The union argues that the scheme, as currently approved, discriminates against HND holders in favour of their counterparts with university degrees.

During an emergency congress held at the Senator Ali Wakili Complex, ASUP Secretariat in FPTB on Wednesday, the Acting Chairman of the Union, Esther Adebitan, articulated the union’s disapproval. She emphasised that the scheme entrenches discrimination against HND certificate holders compared to those with Bachelor’s degrees from universities.

“We affirm that polytechnics cannot discriminate against its products in the manner prescribed in this document,” Adebitan declared.

She highlighted specific discriminatory practices embedded in the scheme, such as discriminatory entry points, career progression barriers, administrative discrimination, and the misclassification of technologists.

Adebitan noted that after extensive deliberations and scrutiny by the Union’s Think Tank Committee and Council of National Officers (CNO) at the Union’s 110th NEC meeting, several significant findings were communicated: the approved scheme contains fundamental deviations from the document prepared by sector stakeholders, coordinated through NBTE over six years; the approval process involving the Office of The Head of Civil Service of The Federation is legally questionable, as this office is neither an employer nor a regulator of Polytechnic staff; the scheme’s introduction of National Skills Qualifications (NSQ) as mandatory for academic career growth is inappropriate for tertiary education settings; the scheme elongates the Lecturer cadre progression from a 7-step to a 9-step system, adding an extra year for final two-level promotions, resulting in a minimum of 26 years to reach the highest level, deviating from norms in other education sectors; the scheme’s proliferation of directorates poses unsustainable financial burdens on institutions’ overheads; and the NBTE’s agreement with the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria on the HND program in Pharmaceutical Technology contradicts the scheme’s requirements for similar qualifications.

The union fully supports the resolution issued by the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), providing a 15-day ultimatum to suspend the scheme in line with existing labor laws or face industrial action. “The release of documents by the NBTE to amend some provisions amounts to an admission of guilt and a half-hearted attempt at addressing the sector’s mourning mood imposed by the contentious scheme of service.

This is unsatisfactory and reflects poorly on NBTE’s commitment to the ideals and aspirations of the Nigerian Polytechnic System,” Adebitan concluded.

The union’s strong opposition underscores the urgent need for a reevaluation of the Polytechnic Service Scheme to ensure equitable treatment and career progression for HND holders, safeguarding the integrity and future of the Nigerian Polytechnic system.

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