Some architects who hold the Higher National Diploma (HND) from polytechnics have staged a peaceful protest against the disparity between a university degree and HND, especially when HND holders suffer a lot of discrimination before they are honoured with professional recognition.
The protest was staged in Lagos at the venue of the Nigerian Institute of Architecture (NIA) Annual General Meeting (AGM).
One of the HND architects, Omotosho Olubunmi David, who spoke on behalf of the aggrieved architects, lamented that the process of obtaining professional recognition was unnecessarily made tedious and time-consuming for holders of HND.
David said, “We write three phases of exams: Finals I, Finals II and Professional Practice Examination (PPE), which take eight years altogether to complete before we can be given the seal to operate as competent architects.”
He said this was against the two-year programme recommended for their counterparts from universities to become professional members of NIA, adding that “even many polytechnic graduates who have completed the exams are still kept waiting for years before they are inducted.
“Even as we see this as a way of stalling polytechnic products from reaching the peak of their careers, the regulatory body for the profession, Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), just stopped certification of polytechnic graduates completely.”
David alleged that with the latest development, “ARCON is up to a scheme to abolish participation of polytechnic graduates as professional architects, and without the certification, we will continue to be seen and treated as quacks, even as we are better than most university products.”
Another protester and President, Association of Architecture Students (AAS), Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Ojelabi Akindeji, called on the Federal Government and other concerned quarters to enforce abolition of the disparity between HND and degree in every sector of the country.
Akindeji said, “Graduates coming out of polytechnics are as qualified to handle tasks as their university counterparts and so must not be discriminated against.”
President of NIA, Festus Njoku, who addressed the protesters, acknowledged that ARCON suddenly stopped accommodating HND graduates acting on an instruction purportedly given by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
Njoku said, “HND graduates were being accommodated, but ARCON said the NUC kicked against it in a letter it received from the commission. I asked to see the letter but up till the moment, ARCON has not been able to provide the letter; but it does not matter.