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Architects who have HND worried about ARCON’s non-compliance with FEC’s decision

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Appalled by continuous marginalization and professional relegation by the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), architects who hold Higher National Diploma (HND) certificate have expressed worries over non-compliance by its regulatory body with the Federal Executive Council (FEC) decision on the matter

Despite a directive by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that the Higher National Diploma (HND) certificate will remain a legal tender in Nigeria and that holders of such certificate be recognised as the equivalent of first-degree holders without discrimination in remunerations and limit to progression in the work place, architects in Nigeria have not complied with the position.Similarly, the National Council on Establishments (NCE) had in a circular dated March 26, 2018, approved Post Graduate Diploma (PDG) as a bridge to acquiring a master’s degree in the relevant field to qualify HND holders into officers’ cadre.

In the circular signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ndubuisi Osuji on behalf of the Head of Service, NCE also allowed those who posses professional qualifications and professional bodies approved by it and included in the schemes of service such as the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN), the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) among others in addition to the HND are also eligible for conversion into officer cadre and can advance beyond senior grade level 14 (SGL 14) .While other professional bodies in environmental science have long complied, the regulatory body for architects in Nigeria, the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) is yet to.

Consequently, students of architecture with HND background are not happy that ARCON have not abide by the Federal Executive Council decision on PGD as a bridge to obtain masters degree.According to findings, Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA) currently has over 350 fully registered members whom ARCON has refused to issue Practice Licences on grounds which some leading architects in the country believe were baseless and rather petty.

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The architects also said there has been deliberate rejection by the recent generations of ARCON leaders of the Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) Architecture programme of the National Universities Commission (NUC).Concerned architects, who pleaded for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue said, the PGD Architecture propramme has been formally structured by NUC as a bridge programme intended to lead HND graduates of Architecture or Architectural Technology into master’s degree programmes of Nigerian Universities as well as master’s degree abroad.

“The integrity of the PGD Architecture programme is underscored by the fact that its course contents have been published in detail in the current edition of the NUC Benchmark for Post graduate programmes in environmental sciences”, they said.Also, in an extract obtained by the Guardian from a recent meeting by the affected architects, they stated that the new generations of ARCON leaders have so far not presented any academic evaluation of the PGD Architecture programme for the purpose of enriching its academic content if such enrichment should be found to be necessary.

According to them, the attitude of the new generation of ARCON leaders has been the rejection of the PGD Architecture programme off-handedly, without any attempt at academic evaluation.“This attitude has been engineered by the negative stigma that has been placed without any cause on the HND graduates of architecture and architectural technology by the new generation of ARCON leaders, for the singular purpose of reneging on the commitments contained in the ARCON letter”, they added.

The Guardian learnt that in the letter with Ref N0, ARCON/101/Vol.1/362 of 22nd September 1997 also known as ARCON DECLARATION of 1997, the regulatory body elected to return to the status quo ante and proceed with the commitments that were contained in ARCON Declaration of 1997.

By reason of the said commitment contained in the declaration, generations of young Nigerians were assured a career pathway to professional level architecture in Nigeria, through the HND programme of Nigerian polytechnics and colleges of technology and they have already followed the pathway.But sources said the new generation of ARCON leaders has preferred to reject the PGD architecture programmed off handedly, without any serious academic evaluation and without offering any reasons for the rejection.

“This has been the typical method of their operation, they owe nobody any explanations on any issue whatsoever notwithstanding the fact that they were constituted into office to handle national issues of very critical importance, career development. The only explanation they have found fit to proffer in respect of the curtailment of the career development prospects of HND graduates of Architecture or Architectural Technology is the illusory NUC document that has never been sighted by any of the interested parties.

“The reason for the rejection of PGD Architecture programme by the ARCON leaders is that ii offers HND graduates of architecture or Architectural Technology the means of progressing academically up to the master’s degree and beyond. This is totally objectionable to them, because in their opinions, persons who have not complied with ‘the overriding condition of possession of a bachelor’s degree in architecture’ are not permitted to attain full professional status.

“The said ‘overriding condition of possession of a bachelor’s degree in architecture’, is being tenaciously held by the recent generations of ARCON leaders; in spite of the fact that there is no legitimate document of NUC to support or authenticate it. This is why we have referred to this position as a mark of arbitrariness”, they added. But in a response to the position of HND architects, ARCON said the National Council on Establishments circular dated March 26, 2018, cited by the concerned parties, has nothing to do with the qualifications for registration of candidates by professional regulatory bodies such as ARCON but relates to positions and remunerations in the pubic civil service.

Also, a member of the council and current president of NIA, Njoku Adibe said, it is something that could be resolved. According to the NIA president, HND graduates were being accommodated but suddenly they said NUC kicked against it. Njoku however said he is yet to see the document from NUC.

“Even if they kicked against it we would see where we could adjust the programme to accommodate the HND graduates. It is an issue we can surmount. Some people said they will go to court but I said when we see the letter and find out the issue that NUC is against.
“I will see how we can make up the short fall. It is as simple as that”. he added

“The process is that when you did HND, it takes eight years before you are registered but for the university graduates, it takes two years but there is no problem about it. “We will look at the details. I don’t have the details.“It is something we can resolve. It started last year. It is ARCON, the registration body that said NUC queried the registration of HND graduates. As the president, I said could I see the letter? I have not seen it till now. So I cannot actually know how we can now reform the programme until I see the letter,” he added.

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In June this year, the Federal Government had ended the dichotomy between HND and Bachelor of Science (BSC) by scrapping award of HND.
Under the reform approved by FEC, the ministry of education would, however, continue to license private polytechnics and colleges of education for the award of qualification at ND and National Certificate in Education (NCE) levels.

According to the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, there will be no more award of HND.Explaining further, the minister said: “The HND certificate will remain a legal tender in Nigeria and holders of such certificate will continue to be recognised as the equivalent of first degree holders without discriminatory remunerations and limit to progression in the work place.

“The NCE certificate will be retained as the minimum teaching qualification at the basic level of education. Any higher qualifications by these private or state-owned polytechnics will be in affiliation with a university. So, HND is no longer in existence, but existing HND will be respected and considered legal tender”, he added.


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