From: Ndubuisi Orji and Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
A Bill seeking to end the age-long dichotomy between First Degree and Higher National Diploma (HND) passed second reading in the House of Representatives, on Tuesday.
The Bill, sponsored by Hon. Ali Isa J.C from Gombe State and Edward Pwajok from Plateau State, is entitled ” A Bill for an Act to abolish the dichotomy between First Degrees and Higher National Diplomas in the same profession / field and for related matters”.
The Bill, if eventually passed into law, will end discrimination against Polytechnic graduates and remove the ceiling placed on HND holders, especially those in the public service.
Leading debate on the Bill, Ali said HND holders in the country over the years had suffered serious discrimination, which in turn has affected their career progression.
He said, for instance, while a First Degree holder in the country is employed at Grade level 8 and could get to Grade 17, the HND holder is employed at Grade level 7 and cannot exceed Grade level 14.
The lawmaker argued that the dichotomy apart from affecting the career progression of HND, is also affecting the technological development of the country, as most students now shy away from polytechnic education.
He noted that abolition of the dichotomy will give a boost to the nation’s technological advancement.
According to him :”It will enable HND holders to attain the highest level in their career both in the public and private sectors and make their certificates respected outside Nigeria.”
On his part, Pwajok said there was no justification for the dichotomy that exist between First Degree and HND.
He argued that HND is equivalent to First Degree and stated that the Bill is necessary to end the discrimination against Polytechnic graduates.
However, Hon. Diri Douye from Bayelsa State, who argued against the Bill, said the course content for a First Degree and HND is different.
Duoye said:” The HND curriculum is drawn differently from degree curriculum. We should look at policy differentials rather than legislative. We actually cannot sit down here and legislate on this,” he said.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who presided over Tuesday’s plenary, later referred the Bill to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and Services.