On conversion of HND to degree

The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), as the body responsible for technical education in Nigeria, should focus on promoting and enhancing skills rather than introducing a degree programme to generate income. Vocational skills are essential for driving innovation, entrepreneurship, and self-employment critically for a sustainable future. By prioritising the conversion of HND to degree, NBTE risks diverting attention and resources from improving technical education and strengthening existing polytechnic programs for the following reasons:

The specialisation offered by polytechnics has allowed graduates to excel in specific industries, filling key positions and meeting the demands of the workforce and only polytechnic graduates can meet the target.

Converting higher national diploma to degree means converting technologies to degree holders and there is a possibility of a mismatch between the skills possessed by graduates and the requirements of industries. This could lead to unemployment or underemployment for polytechnic graduates and for already employed technologies it means change of work cadre from technologist to lecturer and if done it totally means a forfeiture of employment opportunity. It needs carefully examination and administrative guidelines.

One of the main concerns about conversion of HND to degree is the potential saturation of the job market. With the current high rate of unemployment in Nigeria, the conversion of all polytechnic graduates’ HND to degree may exacerbate the already dire situation. This influx of degree holders may lead to increased competition and limited job for fresh graduates. Additionally, it may devalue the significance and demand for vocational skills, which are good for the country’s economic development.

To address the issue of converting HND to degree, a balanced approach is necessary. Instead of completely converting HND to degree, a complementary framework that recognizes and values vocational skills should be adopted. This could involve revising the curriculum to incorporate industry-relevant courses, providing internship and apprenticeship opportunities, and fostering collaboration between polytechnics and industries. By doing so, polytechnic graduates can acquire specialised skills while also having a pathway to further academic pursuits if desired.

The conversion of HND to degree has both advantages and drawbacks. While it may offer opportunities for polytechnic graduates to enhance their career prospects and contribute to economic growth, it also bears the risk of oversaturation, devaluing vocational skills, and diverting resources from technical education improvement. Therefore, a balanced approach that recognizes the value of vocational skills while providing pathways for academic advancement should be adopted. This will ensure that Nigeria’s education system meets the diverse needs of its youth and fosters a sustainable and prosperous future. By converting HND to degree, there are concerns that the emphasis on practical skills may be overshadowed, leading to a less specialised and industry-focused education.

The conversion should not undermine the foundations of polytechnic education but rather enhance it. This can be achieved through curriculum revision that ensures a strong focus on practical skills, internships, and industry collaborations. By maintaining the specialisation and industry relevance of polytechnic education, graduates can continue to make valuable contributions to the workforce, both locally and globally.

Shehu Gaji,
Federal Polytechnic,
Mubi, Adamawa state