Of unaccredited private polytechnics
THE alarm raised by the National Board of Technical Education (NBTE) over the proliferation of illegal and unaccredited private polytechnics, monotechnics and Innovation Enterprise Institutions (IEIs) across the country is timely in order to forewarn members of the public on the illegal schools.
Suddenly, so many private technical educational institutions have sprung up in different parts of the country and many gullible students and their parents/guardians are patronizing them ignorantly with those parents/guardians spending their hard-earned money on worthless education that would lead to worthless certificates.
The alarm is indeed necessary to awaken members of the public to the reality of these fake schools and help avoid them in the face of desperation for tertiary education. However, there is also the suspicion that some unscrupulous officials within the rank of NBTE are issuing licences to the institutions without following due process. This racket needs to be investigated and stamped out. NBTE’s executive secretary, Manzuid Kazaure, who raised the alarm, the other day, said the illegal institutions are in the habit of admitting students into unaccredited programmes leading to the award of National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND).
Kazaure, fortunately, has done the right thing as he said security agencies have been alerted on the issue with a view to clamping down on the operators. Also, some officials of the Programmes Department of the NBTE are being investigated over issuance of registration licences to some of those private institutions.
Although the allegation is still being investigated, if proven after investigation, it would be a shame on those officials saddled with the responsibility of licensing and regulating the activities of those tertiary institutions but who have been compromised and are now bastardizing the nation’s education system as well as destroying the future of innocent young Nigerians.
Given the predilection for corner-cutting by some Nigerians, it is not surprising that unscrupulous persons and groups are operating illegal technical institutions. The same phenomenon has been playing out in the universities’ admissions and the National Universities Commission (NUC) has been in a running battle with operators of several unapproved schools. Many of them have been shut down while their proprietors are being prosecuted in the law courts. The proliferation of illegal private tertiary institutions, including the polytechnics is, however, instructive of the high demand for tertiary education by millions of youths who are desperate for certificate or qualification.
Unfortunately, the available space in the tertiary institutions in the country is not enough to meet that demand. A situation where on an annual basis, only about 12 per cent of prospective candidates seeking admission into tertiary institutions get admitted, while the rest are left to an uncertain future, is the incubator for all sorts of shady deals in education as this huge shortfall then gives room for exploitation by illegal operators.
Nigeria has an urgent task of developing technical education in the country, as the economy needs to be powered by technical skills at this stage. While this call has not been heeded properly, it is now something of a double jeopardy that fake schools are springing up. All the same, technical education must be given priority in order to meet the technical manpower need of the economy.
Nigeria’s infrastructural needs require technical manpower and the poor technical education system is already taking toll on the nation’s business. Today, skilled labourers from neighbouring West African countries, especially Republic of Benin, Togo and Ghana have conveniently filled the gap created by Nigeria’s lack of skills in home building, decoration, to mention a few.
NBTE on its part, should be up and doing in its duty of regulating technical education in the country and it should not hesitate to close down any illegal institution.
In order to close the gap and accommodate the large number of youngsters seeking technical education, the existing accredited institutions should be expanded with more infrastructure and qualified personnel. But this can only be done through strategic planning and deep commitment. The NBTE should project the number of candidates requiring technical education and on this basis plan for expansion of facilities in the existing institutions. That way, the illegal institutions would die a natural death. And the nation would get a sound technical education system that will produce skilled manpower to drive the economy.