Proprietors of Private Polytechnics in Nigeria on Thursday disagreed with lecturers that tertiary institutions should remain closed to activities due to COVID-19 pandemic, saying that they were not sincere.
Lecturers under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Universities and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics had declared that schools in the country should not be reopened.
According to them, the population of students in public tertiary institutions was too large to be allowed for social distancing in line with COVID-19 management protocols.
But the Association of Proprietors of Private Polytechnics in Nigeria appealed to the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, reopen polytechnics shut down in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They called on the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to announce a date within the current phase of COVID-19 lockdown for the resumption of polytechnics.
The appeal came a few weeks after the Pro-Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Afe Babalola (SAN), made similar demand to the Federal Government that private universities should be reopened if public Universities were not ready.
While maintaining that it had put measures in place for the safe return of students to campus, the proprietors said the return of students to campus would help polytechnics contribute towards combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the National President of APPPN, Dr. Moses Adeyemi, disagreed saying he doubted their sincerity.
“APPPN doubts the sincerity of ASUU and ASUP in this regard,” he said, adding that COVID-19 has exposed admission fraud in public tertiary institutions.
Adeyemi said, “The regulatory bodies, National University Commission and National Board for Technical Education access facilities before granting approval to offer a program and do not also authorise admission above the carrying capacity of the institutions based on its facilities.
“Admissions into Nigerian tertiary institutions are also regulated by Joint Admission and Matriculation Board which do not allow admission above carrying capacity approved by NUC or NBTE. The question now is: how did these institutions come about the extra-large classes?
“We don’t believe that there are different standards for private institutions. Private Polytechnic admits within its capacity and most of us don’t have enough students because the public institutions hoard the students during JAMB admission. The number of students in private polytechnics allows for social distancing.”
He said it was because of profit that public schools “over-admit” students and do so outside the laws, outside the approval of NUC and NBTE, and without the clear knowledge of JAMB.
“If not for profit why should public schools be having students in regular programs, evening programs, weekend programs, consultancy programs, etc. Are these programmes not profit-oriented?” APPPN asked.