By; AbdulRahman Agboola
The design of polytechnic education in Nigeria was basically intended to provide middle level manpower to support economic growth, in reality, the target has been met over the years as the polytechnics in their numbers still provides leeway for exhibition of practical knowledge in industries and other sectors of the economy in line with the design. To be regarded as a professional in a field, one must possess deep knowledge, high degree of training and skill in the practice of the discipline, comparatively; some disciplines are more professional than others.
If professionalism is viewed from the angle of occupation and paid jobs, it could be assumed that all formally educated citizens should be dutifully engaged, but in actual fact, not all disciplines could be accommodated in high numbers in the economy, a situation that challenges unemployed graduates or other certificate holders towards diversification of knowledge to optimally perform required functions outside classroom knowledge acquired.
The degree or diploma certificates have become stepping stones to get employments but job details oftentimes varies with the certificates, thereby mandating specialized trainings and counseling by an employer in some cases, going by limited spaces available in specific professions, which is mostly attributive to high unemployment rate in Nigeria. There are divergent opinions on the provision of high level manpower by polytechnics weighing the curriculum of Higher National Diploma with University degree in related disciplines, where many placed HND Certificates on the same pedestal with Degree Certificates, other hold different views.
The inclusion of entrepreneurship training as a core teaching in polytechnics for the purpose of tilting the mentality of polytechnic products towards enterprise and job independence, in the bid to control the search for white collar jobs has not yielded deserving results as the entrepreneurship education is being mismanaged with poor course modules and absence of seriousness in the training. Major emphasis are placed on tailoring, soap making, block making and other menial enterprise being taught at peripheral, thereby creating ambivalence in the teachings of entrepreneurship education in polytechnics.
The 19th Edition of Nigeria Polytechnic Games from 27th to 6th May 2017 in Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa is an eye opener to urgent demand for consideration of sports as entrepreneur in polytechnics. Over forty polytechnics participated in sporting events like Tennis, Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Handball, Judo, Taekwondo, Chess, Scrabble and athletics with more than two thousand participants.
The events are admixtures of professionalism and amateurish displays among contingents, though allegations of mercenaries wasn’t prominent but performance of different institutions in events rates some institutions as parading quality and well trained players than others. Sporting events are majorly categorized under extracurricular activities but considering the enterprise endeavours inherent in sports and the possibility of creating accomplished players capable of creating niche for themselves in sports as students; sports should be considered under entrepreneurship education in polytechnics.
The opening ceremony of the NIPOGA was graced by a retired footballer and football coach of international repute – Samson Siasia among other notable sports enthusiasts that graced the occasion as facilitated by a NIPOGA promoter Hajia Aishat Audu – Emeje of A3 Foundation. The President of NIPOGA – Professor Shettima AbdulKadir Saidu who is the Rector of Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa provided standard equipment for the events and the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee – Dr Yahaya Baba Usman ensured the smooth coordination of the events with the National Organizing Committee in a manner that showed qualitative events capable of encouraging participants to improve in choosing games.
In Polytechnics, sport has maintained the status of extracurricular at the expense of entrepreneur capable of producing professionals’ sportsmen and sportswomen in polytechnics, many among previous participants that showed distinct qualities as players at NIPIOGA didn’t gain national prominence through their participation in NIPOGA and the trend must be appraised to encourage more productive and pragmatic participations of students in sports at different levels.
Scouters searching for talents in different games were sighted at different events in the 19th Edition of NIPOGA at Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, especially John Fashanu and host of others that monitored the football events with rapt attention, other events witnessed representatives of National bodies or federations governing sporting activities in Nigeria. It is incumbent on Rectors and Sport Coaches in polytechnics to design means of encouraging polytechnic students to develop interest and actively participate in sports as players to create credible enterprise under the concept of entrepreneurship education.
Considering the lukewarm attitudes of government and sports developers in Nigeria to sports developments, the transformation of sports from extracurricular to entrepreneur in polytechnics must be considered with apprehension but with conscientious planning and implementations, hope is at sight for the achievement of this lofty idea. The energy, enthusiasm and spirit of sportsmanship showcased by participants clearly create a roadmap for proper study of sports as worthy enterprise to complement other professional trainings being acquired by students that yearns for job security after graduation.
In Nasarawa 2017, the youthful ages of participants with high numbers of teens have the tendencies of producing worthy talents capable of adding to the glory of Nigeria in sporting activities locally, nationally and internationally. In previous eras, secondary school sports produced raw talents that eventually became successful in sports globally and a critical study of this reference is capable of creating opportunities for polytechnic students in this order, which implies that the technical committees, rectors and other interested stakeholders must take proper review of the events with the target to improve on future preparations in line with this new demands.
Dossiers of participants that wins medals or with brilliant displays must be compiled for record purpose and onward transmissions to independent governing bodies which can lead to invitations of players for trials at other events, to expose them to real professionalism and proper encouragements. To complement this onerous task, proper media engagements must be fashioned to sharpen perception on NIPOGA by the general public and probably gain required funding to cushion the effects of poor funding of NIPOGA by government.
The 19th Edition of Nigeria Polytechnic Games ought to have taken place over nine months ago due to deficiency of funding; it took exceptional task of the host institution rector to outsource for means of providing requirements for hosting of the events and the waiting has really worth it with the beautiful hosting of the events that has now gained more national recognition and prominence in the public fore due to excellent host and media attention. NIPOGA must be advanced in such manner capable of attesting to the hallmark of polytechnic products as people with adequate technical knowledge, which has been serving developmental purpose and growth of Nigeria since the pre-independence era.
The platform for detecting sport talents among polytechnic students should be well established through the NIPOGA with the mandate to create enabling opportunities for them to be properly trained and equipped with required skills to compete with peers and contemporaries elsewhere as obtained in well-coordinated climes. The handling of Polytechnic Games should be redesigned to envisage reliable treat of emerging challenges; the games should shift from fiesta to opportunities drive for participants to hit stardom through sports as an enterprise.
Comrade AbdulRahman Agboola
Vice Chairman, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics – SSANIP
Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa Chapter.