The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) says its Higher National Diploma (HND) to a bachelor’s degree Top Up programme, was designed to facilitate career and academic progression of HND holders.
The Executive Secretary of the Board, Prof. Idris Bugaje, stated this in an interview with newsmen in Kaduna on Wednesday.
Bugaje said that the initiative would ease the suffering of HND holders in the country.
Recall that the NBTE had on Aug. 14 announced the one-year top up programme, which could be applied through: https://topup.nbte.gov.ng, to convert HND certificate to a bachelor’s degree.
The executive secretary said that HND holders have been suffering for decades, adding that efforts were made to remove the dichotomy between HND and bachelor’s degrees without success.
According to him, HND represents the best products of the Polytechnic system, stressing the need for them to progress and study for masters’ degree and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.
“Unfortunately, up to today, a HND holder is not allowed to proceed for a master’s degree directly, but in Portugal and some other European countries, it is allowed.
“In South Africa and other places, HND holders are given a route – one additional year for Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) degree and another year for a master’s degree.”
He explained that under the top up initiative, NBTE proposed a two-year master’s degree programme for HND holders but to be run in polytechnics and not in the university setting.
This, he said, was necessary because of the differences in vision and orientations between the HND and degree, adding that a curriculum has been developed for some engineering and environmental programmes.
Bugaje said that the curriculum was taken to the former minister of education for the attention of the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, but it did not scale through.
He said that to keep the hope alive, the NBTE had to find an alternative route for the progression of HND holders, adding that the alternative route was for them to do the one-year top up.
He said that with the initiative, they will be able to get a B.Sc. in addition to HND and also enroll for a one-year masters and go further for a PhD.
“If they follow the route of Post Graduate Diploma (PGD), they will still be looked down upon in the university system.
“After they finish the PGD, master’s and PhD, come back and want to join any Nigerian university, they will ask them, where is your first degree?
“This is a very unfortunate situation and NBTE cannot allow things to continue this way.
“We have to find ways for our products and that is why we developed this top up programme with recognised and accredited foreign universities,” he said.
He said that some of the universities were in Europe, some in Asia, and some in North America, adding that the institutions were highly rated in university ranking.
He expressed optimism that the partnership with the foreign universities, if successful, might attract some Nigerian universities to key in.
“The move is not to allow HND holders to stagnate, noting that HND holders should be joining the polytechnics as assistant lecturers just like their university counterparts.
“At the moment, this is not allowed. This is injustice and NBTE cannot fold its hands and watch, As such, we must find ways to improve, and get the HND holders to progress,” Bugaje said.
He explained that the procedure of the top up includes a “credit mapping”.
He said that the NBTE has uploaded all the content of the accredited HND programmes in Nigeria into a software.
He said that the software was designed to pick the B.Sc. content of the corresponding university, outside Nigeria, match them and find the gaps between the two.
“That’s what we call credit mapping. The credit mapping process will now bring out those specific courses that will require you to meet up with the B.Sc., including laboratory practical.
“This is the arrangement being made and we hope the Nigerian education system will join us in promoting it, so that our HND holders are not left behind in terms of progression,” he said.
Bugaje said that those who enrolled for the programmes would get quality education and the fees was about 10 per cent of what they would have paid if they had enrolled for full time.
He also said that the universities have agreed to split the payment into two and pay per semester.
“The Nigerian system has a lot of prejudice against HND holders, and I hope this will change, because it is not going to help Nigeria.
“It is a colonial attitude and unless we change this attitude, development in Nigeria will stagnate.
“I hope Nigerian universities will buy-into the programme so that we can move this nation forward and stop the prejudice against HND holders,” he said. (NAN)
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