Polytechnics Grapple with Existential Threat: ASUP Sounds Alarm

 In a press briefing held in Abuja on Tuesday, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) raised serious concerns about the future of polytechnic education in Nigeria, highlighting an existential threat stemming from government policies that devalue and deter youth enrollment.

ASUP President, Mr. Anderson Ezeibe, expressed distress over the alleged appointment of individuals lacking the necessary qualifications as rectors in federal polytechnics, asserting that this trend contributes to a decline in student interest.

The disparity between Higher National Diplomas (HND) offered by polytechnics and Bachelor Degrees from universities has led to a decline in enrollment, with many young people favoring university education.

 Ezeibe emphasized the urgent need for reform, citing the current bill before the National Assembly, which allocates a meager 7.8 percent to the education sector, exacerbating the underfunding crisis.

Ezeibe further decried the confusion within the polytechnic system, noting that many institutions have been operating without complete governance structures since June 2023.

He accused the government of appointing unqualified individuals and dissolving governing councils in violation of the Federal Polytechnics Act (2019 Amendment), leaving institutions without the necessary structures for smooth operations.

“The disregard for extant laws in the appointment of principal officers in these polytechnics by the federal government has emboldened different state governments to tow the same path,” remarked Ezeibe, drawing attention to the chaotic situation surrounding the Scheme of Service, under review since 2017 without resolution.

Ezeibe welcomed the government’s decision to establish a National Commission for Polytechnics and grant degree-awarding status to polytechnics, seeing these as crucial steps to address the persistent HND/Degree dichotomy. 

However, he urged the government to ensure the implementation of these proposals to secure the future of polytechnic education.

ASUP demanded an upward review of the education budget in the 2024 appropriation bill, withdrawal of the 2021 circular requesting remittances of internally generated funds, and immediate implementation of the approved new wage structure. 

Additional demands included the release of owed promotion arrears, unpaid salaries, and a return to renegotiation for the ASUP/FGN 2010 agreement.

As ASUP urged the government to revamp the education sector, Ezeibe stressed the importance of addressing the highlighted issues, emphasizing their critical role in undermining the functionality of both the education sector at large and polytechnic education in particular.

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