Findings have revealed that federal polytechnics in the country are facing serious challenge of dearth of requisite academic staff as a result of the debilitating effect of the federal government’s embargo on employment.
LEADERSHIP gathered from a reliable source at the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) the supervisory body of polytechnics in Nigeria that already, some of the institutions visited for quality assurance have failed accreditation, owing to the acute shortage of requisite manpower.
LEADERSHIP reports that under the normative instruments of the regulatory body, availability of the right mix of staff is a key requirement.
The findings also indicated that worried by the development, the executive secretary (ES) of NBTE, Prof Idris Bugaje and the Committee of Federal Rectors (COFER); the umbrella body of Rectors of Federal Polytechnics in Nigeria have severally written a Save Our Soul (SOS) letter to the minister of education and the head of civil service of the federation for intervention.
The NBTE boss in the letter with ref No. C/TEB.564/VOL.II/331 dated 10th May 2021 to Head of Service of the Federation, lamented that the sector presently suffers from inadequate technical manpower due to inability to replace retired staff and those who died which according to him is causing impediments in maintaining current training programmes not to talk of adding new ones.
The ES identified some of the new programmes as Railway Engineering, Gas Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering among others and appealed for her kindly intervention, stressing however that if the polytechnics are not allowed to do the replacements, it will bring down the quality of the TVET products and prevent rolling out new ones.
In a separate letter with ref No. C/TEB. 201/VOL.VII/80 dated 7th October 2021 addressed to the minister of education, Prof Bugaje also requested him to endorse the plea by Federal Polytechnics to replace exited staff for the approval of the president.
He cautioned that “Most of the Federal Polytechnics shall lose accreditation due to inability to replace retired and exited staff”, adding that, “I would not want us to lower the standards already set.”
The Committee of Federal Rectors (COFER) in its letter of appeal with Ref. No. COFER/SEC/VOL.3/10 dated 5th October 2021 and addressed to the Head of Service, expressed the fears that the embargo on employment could deprive the national economy of the much needed technically skilled manpower.
While noting that most institutions are static in academic development due to lack of adequate personnel to teach students, the federal rectors pointed out that “NBTE do require Polytechnics who are applying for accreditation and reaccreditation of their programmes and courses to meet the required staff-student ratio”.
According to the committee, “The consequence of not meeting laid down staff ratio always leads to de-accreditation of such programmes”, and appealed for waiver which it said will ameliorate the state of manpower needs in the polytechnics.
The executive secretary when contacted, confirmed the development, which he said, was worrisome as the sector risks losing the gains recorded over the years.
Bugaje who appreciated the huge personnel cost further appealed to the president to intervene and declare state of emergency in the education sector and request the head of service to categorise polytechnics in the same category with health sector for the purpose of lifting the embargo on employment to save it from imminent collapse.