So Much For An ‘Ordinary’ National Diploma (OND)

(By Edison Iboyi)

The OND, recognised as the best among all non-degree certificates below the HND, according to a Jamb UTME blog, serves two purposes. First, it can be used to work in multinational companies (though with a very low pay).Secondly, it can be used as an entry qualification straight into 200 level in a degree awarding institution. Also, one can use it to apply for the Higher National Diploma (HND) in polytechnics scattered across the country.

“ORDINARY” National Diploma (OND), so they term the end product of a two-year programme undergone at a polytechnic. But, if the truth be told, getting a national diploma from any of our institutions is not so easy for it to be called ‘ordinary’. I know you would be tempted to ask what’s in a name.

   According to a Directory of Polytechnic and Colleges in Nigeria, in addition to the number of universities, there are 17 federal and 26 state-owned polytechnic colleges in the country. These are established to train middle-level technical manpower. They are non-degree awarding institutions. They are to award the Ordinary National Diploma to deserving students on completion of a two-year programme in any chosen course. Higher National Diploma follows after another two years on the same programme.

  The OND, recognised as the best among all non-degree certificates below the HND, according to a Jamb UTME blog, serves two purposes. First, it can be used to work in multinational companies (though with a very low pay).Secondly, it can be used as an entry qualification straight into 200 level in a degree awarding institution. Also, one can use it to apply for the Higher National Diploma (HND) in polytechnics scattered across the country.

  Simple and easy as it may seem, this OND programme costs a lot. All for the acquisition of this certificate, a lot has been ongoing, causing a rot in our educational and socio-cultural system.

  Acknowledged to be the last resort for the ever increasing number of candidates yearly seeking admission into universities, Nigerian polytechnic institutions are now reputed for charging high fees bordering on financial exploitation of vulnerable young men and women seeking admission into polytechnics after fruitless efforts to gain same into universities. They start with bulk sales of admission forms even when they know they do not have adequate facilities and capacity to accommodate the vast number. Then comes entrance examination. Those who fail, after greasing the palms of unscrupulous staff, are given admission. Some who pass simply find that their spaces have been sold.

   After all the money and energy sapping, the next stage is clearance process. The new student gets into school and experiences a world beyond the ordinary. Students are made to pay N1,000 more for recommended textbooks for inexplicable reason. When you do not buy their textbooks perhaps as a result of financial handicap, it is either you cannot submit your assignments or you forfeit 10 marks from your Continuous Assessment (C.A).This is worse when a lecturer happens to be the author of the recommended textbook or one of those who hopes to get commission from the sales of the book. Not buying a lecturer’s recommended textbook could fetch one a ‘carryover’ in his course, or even more.     Just for an ‘ordinary’ national diploma, we pay school fees higher than the minimum wage state governments have refused to pay our civil servant parents. To afford the high fees, most female students disappear into big cities to make money by all means, largely by hawking their bodies just for the pay. Some date staff especially, lecturers, mainly to get financial favours or what is generally referred to as STDs (“Sexually Transmitted Diplomas”).

  The male students are not left out. Some of them are involved in reckless cult activities, terrorising the lives of fellow students on the campus or even the entire polytechnic community. Some mount pressure on course mates to get their assignments or tests done for them in their absence while they go hustling for the money to meet their financial obligations (though not all are financial constrained). But, it is all for an ordinary national diploma!

  Students are made to cram to please difficult lecturers as most of them would require students to reproduce pages of their textbooks verbatim during examinations. Little wonder why most OND holders are hardly regarded in the labour market. Cramming is such a temporal learning process; it is not the same as reading for advancement as it is only to pass exams. Those who find it laborious and a burden to cram, resort to examination malpractices.  Sometimes as their bailout they get mercenaries (master crammers) to impersonate them.

  Maybe we should consider how some lecturers acquire money from final year students (ND II) assigned to them as project supervisors. These are demigods they become overnight, are the ones the students must appease with their own financial resources or even with sexual gratification (for girls) before they approve  project topics, read project write-ups or even approve finished chapters. A student may even be lucky not to be handed project topics for which the lecturer already has ready materials for which, of course, the student pays. A student who turns down such topics risks not graduating when he ought to.

  These hurdles amongst many others passed through by students, are not ordinary. So I wonder why the certificate awarded at the end should be called ‘Ordinary National Diploma. It makes a mockery of efforts of virtuous and hardworking students and trivialises, if not dashed their hopes.

   Notwithstanding, we still are proud of where we are because we know the future holds everything good for us as holders of ‘Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and we can stand our ground anywhere, anytime and any day.

• Iboyi is a student of Mass Communications, Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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