NIGERIA’S senate has passed a bill ending the dichotomy between BSc and higher national diploma (HND) degree holders now making it mandatory for employers to treat both sets of graduates as equals.
Up until now, polytechnic graduates in Nigeria start work in the civil service on Grade Level Seven, while university graduates are started off ion Grade Level Eight. Likewise, HND graduates are not allowed to apply for second degrees unless they upgrade their certificates to BSc or BA qualifications.
Yesterday, the senate passes a bill removing all these practices following the consideration of the report of the Senate Joint Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matter and Tertiary Institutions. Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, the committee chairman, said that the abolition of this dichotomy would meet the huge manpower needs of Nigerians
Senator Shekarau added: “The enactment of the bill to abolish and prohibit discrimination between first degrees and Higher National Diploma for the purpose of employment in Nigeria will no doubt free holders of HND from stagnation and ensure balanced treatment with their counterparts from other higher tertiary institutions in Nigeria.”
He added that the measure would ensure social justice and enhanced corporate governance as well encourage patriotic contributions amongst HND employees in both public and private sectors. In his contribution, senate president, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said the passage of the bill would serve as motivation for polytechnic graduates.
Senator Lawan added: “This particular issue has been on the front burner for a long time. I recall that in the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007, this was one bill that was so important and is one way of encouraging our polytechnic graduates.
“That should not take away from the kind of training they receive but in fact, it is supposed to be a motivation for our polytechnic graduates. I pray that the federal government and all those government agencies and the private sector would start to implement this by the time the president assents to this bill.”
Sponsored by Senator Patrick Ayo Akinyelure, the bill also seeks to promote Nigeria’s technological advancement by encouraging many qualified candidates to pursue polytechnic and technological studies. During the second reading of the bill, Senator Akinyelure had insisted that discrimination against HND holders could ruin the nation’s core policy thrust of evolving a technological and scientifically-based society.
He added that findings had proven that polytechnic graduates were in some cases better in their fields than their university counterparts. Senator Akinyelure said: “A government employment policy that places degree holders ahead of HND holders without recourse to skill and ability of the HND holder thereof does more harm than good to the nation’s development plans.”