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...Rush for varsity degree is guided by madness, says Rector, Abia State Polytechnic

Daily Sun, Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Rector of Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, Elder Allwell Abalogu Onukaogu, has described the rush by students to acquire university education and degrees instead of polytechnic education and diploma as a rush guided by madness as well as one without sanity.


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Onukaogu, who spoke to Daily Sun in Aba, said that the mindset for such rush is not that of what one will contribute to the economy but that of satisfying the society.
"The society prefers degrees, even when they are worthless, and so everybody wants to get to where the majority is. I think that is what it is, but it is madness in the real sense of it.

It is not a rush tailored towards meeting educational or manpower needs of the society and there is no way everybody can operate at that same level in the society.

There is hierarchy, even in heaven. It is not a question of one looking superior to the other. The correct thing is that every labour that has been produced, whether by polytechnic or university, is to complement. The university product will complement the polytechnic product and vice versa. Where there is unfavourable tilting towards one area, it will create imbalance.

Terrible vacuum
It is like one being on a ship and the pilot of the ship will want the weight of the ship to spread evenly across. When it is tilted unfavourably towards one side, you jeopardize the life of everybody in the boat and that is what is happening in Nigeria because everybody is tilting towards university education. A terrible vacuum is created in other areas. And when the Nigerian boat crashes, everybody will go with it.
According to Onukaogu, the solution to this problem is to modify the remuneration procedure in Nigeria .
"There are some communities where carpentry is elevated to a level that a carpenter is so happy, so fulfilled that he is a carpenter. That is because it is paying him. You are not paying him as a carpenter that is degraded, you are paying him because of the quality of job he is able to do.

If a very decent, capable proficient carpenter produces very well and he is so very well remunerated that he has a sense of fulfilment and can meet the basic needs of life, that he would want to get a car, live in a good house, train his children, why would he want to be a university graduate, probably reading philosophy, linguistics and coming out useless to the community because of a clog in the area of production of such unemployed graduates? So, we must change our mindset with regards to remuneration.

He advised that, everybody, irrespective of what they are doing, should be well remunerated, appreciated, commended so that they go to that aspect of productive economy where they will produce at their optimum.

"If you are a teacher and they are looking for a teacher in B.K, they will say, look for that person. That is what it should be. Today in Nigeria, if you go to some polytechnics, they are not doing the technological courses. Everybody is trying to be an administrator. There was a time this country experienced rush for MBA. It didnít matter whether you read Engineering or Biology, you wanted to cap it with an MBA. You know that particular degree has been so belittled and so has become worthless.

Students of the polytechnics are not any inferior to the students in the university
"I do know that two years ago, one of our students in Marketing competed with several other students in the university and came first. Last year again, out of the five prizes by Nigeria Institute of Marketing for all graduates of Marketing in tertiary institutions, Abia State Polytechnic got three.

So, we keep winning the prizes. Abia State Polytechnic is one of many polytechnics that have been competing favourably at all levels. I do know that our students donít find it difficult to get chartered after their HND in Accountancy. Sometimes, they find it much more easier than even those who have read BSc in Accounting. It is not anything unusual because we prepare our students very well and practically too.

Partly because of funding, the polytechnics now emphasize both practical and theory. In the past, we would have been more practical than theoretical. But today, we are both practical and theoretical. So that aspect of practical which the universities donít spend much time on, we are there. The theoretical aspect, which used to be the exclusive area of the university, we are also there.

In a way, when you look at it in a balance of scale, the polytechnic student is better prepared, relatively speaking, than sometimes you have in the universities. That will explain why these prizes are coming from our own people.


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