~By Hassan Temidayo
Hassan Temidayo, an alumnus of the Lagos State Polytechnic and Public Relations Officer of the institution’s alumni association, Ikorodu Chapter has written an open letter to the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwoolu, Special Adviser on Education Hon. Tokunbo Wahab and Members of Lagos State House of Assembly on the need to reconsider the proposed planned transmutation of Lagos State Polytechnic to a full-fledged University.
Temidayo expressed his opposition in a 20 paragraph article, made available to Ikorodu Oga Radio.
The open letter is hereby reproduced below;
education, which is part of technical education programme at Tertiary education level is a gateway to the acquisition of practical and applied skills as well as fundamental scientific knowledge. This type of education was aimed initially at evolving an educational system based on work and training. Polytechnics educate future leaders and develop the middle-level technical capacities that underpin economic growth and development.
The main purpose and relevance of polytechnic education in Nigeria is the provision of much needed manpower to accelerate the socio-economic development of the nation, making it an instrument of social change and economic development. In pre-independent Nigeria, the training of technical personnel was largely a private arrangement by companies and organizations. This effort was augmented by the government in 1952 when it established the Yaba Higher College of Nigerian of Arts, Science and Technology, which had branches in Enugu, Ibadan and Zaria. Technical institutions were also established at Enugu and Kaduna in 1958, Ibadan in 1960 and Auchi in 1964. In 1987, the colleges became polytechnics. Decree 33 of 1979, which gave legal power to the establishment of Polytechnics in Nigeria, among other things, states that the main purpose of polytechnic education is to produce middle-level manpower to manage the nation’s economy. Polytechnics are to engage in researches suitable for developing human and material resources needed by the nation’s industries and economy.
The aims and objectives of technical education have been articulated by the National Policy on Education (1998 revised) as follows:
(i) To provide trained manpower in applied science, technology and commerce particularly at sub-professional grade;
(ii) To provide technical knowledge and vocational skills necessary for agricultural, industrial and economic development;
(iii) To provide people who can apply scientific knowledge to the improvement and solution of environmental problems for the use and convenience of man;
(iv) To give an introduction to professional studies in engineering and other technologies;
(v) To give training and impart the necessary skills leading to the production of craftsmen, technicians and other enterprising and self-reliant; and
(vi) To enable young men and women have an intelligent understanding of the increasing complexity of technology.
In line with the above objectives, the polytechnics were established to provide full-time and part-time courses in technology, applied sciences, commerce and management and in such fields of applied learning relevant to the needs for the development of Nigeria in the areas of industrial; agricultural production; distribution; research and development; and adaptation of techniques (Decree No. 33). From the foregoing, there is no doubt that the Polytechnics were established with a deliberate policy of enhancing the technological development of the country, which is a solid educational decision.
Furthermore, the above objectives are pursued through teaching and learning.
In 1975, the Lagos State Government decided to approve the establishment of a College of Science and Technology as the first Lagos State-owned tertiary institution. The Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), previously known as the Lagos State College of Science and Technology (LACOSTECH), was founded in 1977 with the promulgation of the Lagos State Edict No.1 of 1978 which gave the College its legal existence with retroactive effect from June 1977.
In 1986, the Lagos State Government changed the name of the Institution from the Lagos State College of Science and Technology to the Lagos State Polytechnic. Academic activities started at the Isolo Campus of the Polytechnic in January, 1978 with the admission of 287 pioneer students into five different departments, viz: Accountancy and Finance, Insurance, Secretarial Studies, Management and Business Studies. The College was also offering Basic Studies Programme for candidates wishing to prepare for the G.C.E ‘A’ levels in Arts and the Sciences.
On 1st August, 1978, the Lagos State Government-owned School of Agriculture at Ikorodu was integrated into the College to become the Ikorodu Campus. The Polytechnic is concluding efforts to move from its hitherto multi-campus nature, to a monocampus institution. Sequel to the movement of the seat of administration to the Ikorodu permanent Campus, the Polytechnic had been operating a multi-campus system with three campuses namely, Ikorodu, Isolo and Surulere, (the last two located within Lagos metropolis).
With effect from May 2000, the Ikorodu Campus took over from the Isolo Campus as the seat of administration of the Polytechnic and the permanent campus of the institution. Since the giant step was taken in the year 2000, the institution has moved most of its schools and departments to the Ikorodu campus, while plans are on going to move the few remaining departments of the School of Management and Business Studies in the nearest future after the completion of accommodation facilities. It is pertinent to note that the Polytechnic will still retain the Isolo Campus as the School of Part Time Studies, in view of its proximity to the major clientele for the programme, who are largely situated in the Lagos metropolis.
Recently, through the Lagos State House of Assembly, a Bill to create Lagos State University of Science and Technology and repeal the law that establishes Lagos State Polytechnic was mentioned. Why would anybody think that conversion of polytechnics to universities in Nigeria will solve the problem of under-development in Nigeria? It will further create problems in the area of technological advancement and skill deficit in a struggling economy. The major problem of Polytechnics is the deviation from the original mandates that created them. Ab initio, Polytechnics’ aim was to teach both purely academic and professional vocational degrees (engineering, computer science, law, architecture, management, business, accounting, journalism, town planning, etc.). Their original focus was applied education for professional work and their original roots concentrated on advanced engineering and applied science (STEM subjects). The ideal was to excel in undergraduate and post graduate degrees in engineering and technology (STEM) education. Truly, Britain that created Polytechnics have scrapped polytechnic in 1992, but academics are calling for the return of Polytechnics in Britain to revamp higher education and fill UK skill deficit. (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/academics-call-for-return-of-polytechnics-m78zv3hww88). China also, converted about 600 universities to Polytechnics so as to reduce too much academic theory that does not guarantee jobs. What Lagos State government is saying indirectly by pushing to convert Polytechnics to universities is that the polytechnics alone are not doing well and need to be integrated into the university system, whereas it is the universities that have not been doing well for long despite the huge sums of money spent on them by the government. During the Covid-19 lockdown, most Lagos State polytechnics produced Non-pharmaceutical equipment to stem down the spread of Covid-19. None was produced by the universities around.
Implication of Transmutation of Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) to Lagos State University of Science and Technology (LASUSTECH)
· Majority of the staff of the Polytechnic (Academics and Non Academics) will lose their jobs. University system does not accommodate some of the criteria for recruitment in the Polytechnics.
· University of Science and Technology will not accommodate Management courses like Business Administration, Banking and Finance, Insurance, Marketing, OTM, Accountancy, Mass Communication, Leisure and Tourism and Hospitality Management. The implication is that, members of staff of these departments will lose their jobs. Also, intending applicants that could not meet up with university cut-off marks will not have opportunity to be educated and the multiplier effects of such are better imagined.
· Lagos State Polytechnic Provides education to Nigerians through various accredited programmes. Over 10,000 students that have acquired technical education and Entrepreneurship training are graduated every session. This will be history if LASPOTECH is allowed to die.
· Aside the structures that have been built by the old occupant of Ikorodu Campus of Lagos State Polytechnic, majority of new structures were built with TETFUND, a federal government grant. Lagos State barely has any structure in place until recently. The implication of this conversion will mean that Lagos State University that currently enjoys the grant every year will have to wait for four (4) years, since a university owned by state can have access to the fund in a year.
· The opportunity given to graduates of LASPOTECH to work on part-time basis through some of the programmes offered will cease.
. Lagos State Polytechnic Alumni Association will lose its heritage. If the laws that created Lagos State Polytechnic are repealed, our dear association will cease to exist. The opportunities our members are currently enjoying will no longer be available.
· Lagos State government should empower the technical/technological institutions (polytechnics) to run technical/technological courses from Diploma level up to PhD level. There is provision for that in FGN/ASUP 2010 Agreement.
· Nigerian Senate passed the Bill to criminalize the discrimination of HND holders recently. Lagos State Government should domesticate the law with the state civil service and private organizations. This will serve as a motivation to HND holders from polytechnics. (Note: if we, HND holders allow this bill for criminalization of discrimination and LASPOTECH to die, it may hunt us for the rest of the life).
· The proposal of Lagos State Polytechnic University should be revisited. It will give Lagos State the fame of being the first state to have such in Nigeria (TASUED, First university of Education in Nigeria).
The links below provide a list of some higher institutions abroad on Polytechnic University System.
If it is mandatory for the state government to establish University of Science and Technology, they can as well create it around Lekki-Epe or Ikeja division that has no Tertiary institution of all the 5 divisions.
Lagos State Polytechnic just recovered from a prolonged crisis, I call on Lagos State Governor (HE. Babajide Sanwoolu), Special Adviser on Education (Hon. Tokunbo Wahab) and all Members of Lagos State House of Assembly to please save MYLASPOTECH.