The Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Prof Idris Bugaje, on Tuesday frowned at the rate at which existing polytechnics are being converted to universities.
Bugaje raised the concern at a retreat for chairmen of governing councils and principal officers of federal polytechnics, organised by the board in collaboration with the Committee of Federal Polytechnic Rectors.
Speaking on the theme, “Improving polytechnic administration: The role of governing council and management,” he regretted that while Nigeria has over 200 universities, the few existing polytechnics are still being converted.
He said, “If you convert a college of education to a university, you are upgrading them. If you convert a polytechnic, you are degrading that institution. So we need to stop this craze of converting polytechnics into universities.
“As we know, China converted 600 universities in 2017 into polytechnics because China knows the value of technical education, the value of skills because they want to be on top. If Nigeria wants to lead Africa, if it wants to be among the top 20 in the next 20 to 30 years, we must change our attitude to TVET.”
Bugaje added that the present state of polytechnics in Nigeria is not encouraging, saying that all hands must be on the deck to reposition the sector as quickly as possible.
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“Without mincing words, the following are identified as key issues that are impeding the growth of polytechnics in Nigeria; corrupt practices, poor corporate governance, governing council and management power play, power tussle, conflict of interest etc, dearth of local and multinational manufacturing industries to employ TVET,” he said.
To overcome some of the challenges, he stressed the need for at least 20 per cent of Nigeria’s annual budget allocation to the education sector, while 50 per cent of the annual education budget should be allocated to TVET against the present average of 20 per cent.