As holders of Higher National Diploma (HND) in public service in Nigeria continue to lament indiscreet discrimination against them in the workplace, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF), Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, has asked the affected workers to undergo a one-year mandatory training before their conversion from Executive to Officers cadre.

Yemi-Esan said this at a virtual interactive session with civil servants in commemoration of the 2024 Civil Service Week with the theme: “Educate an African Fit for the 21st Century: Building Resilient Education Systems for Increased Access to Inclusive, Life-long, Quality and Relevant Learning in Africa.”

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The one-year mandatory training programme to bridge the gap between polytechnic awarded Higher National Diploma (HND) and university degree has been a subject of controversy between the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).

Over the years, stakeholders have called for an end to the age-long disparity between HND offered by polytechnics and bachelor degrees offered by universities.

A bill to end the dichotomy was passed at the ninth national assembly in 2021, but it was not signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari’s last administration.

Thus, NBTE, which regulates technical and vocational education, had to introduce what it describes as a one-year top-up programme which offers a platform for HND holders to level up towards obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

The move was rejected by NUC on the basis that it was not within NBTE jurisdiction to determine what is required to bridge the two certificates, the Commission argued were diametrically different by curriculum content and faculties which produce the students in each case.

While fielding question from one of the civil servants during the virtual meeting, Yemi-Esan, corroborated that the curriculum for HND and B.Sc holders were not the same, hence, HND graduates would have to undergo mandatory one year training before conversion from Executive to Officers’ cardre.

Mr. Adebayo Bamidele Hassan on Grade Level 14 had earlier asked on the dichotomy between B.Sc and HND holders in the Service and what the Federal Government was doing to bridge the gap.

Speaking on the theme of the 2024 Civil Service Week, Yemi-Esan emphasized on the need for education to be accessible, inclusive and of high quality, while highlighting the need for it to constantly remain relevant to the rapidly evolving demands of the modern world.

According to her, ”The theme also speaks to how the Nigerian Civil Service is leveraging learning and development to enhance the capacity and capability of its workforce with a view to delivering on national priorities.”

She further stated that the first priority area/pillar of the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan (FCSSIP 25), is Capacity Building and Talent Management, which is in line with the theme selected by the African Union for this year’s celebration.

Yemi-Esan affirmed that the lessons learned in the recent years further underscored the need for civil servants to commit to continuous self-development, particularly in view of emerging global challenges and emerging technologies and the new world of work.

The Head of the Civil Service disclosed that the rapidly changing work environment,, as well as demands for greater efficiency,, had necessitated the adoption of a Performance Management System (PMS) by the Nigerian Civil Service, adding that PMS Policy and Guidelines have been developed and circulated to all Ministries, extra-ministerial Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

She pointed out that core teams for its implementation have been duly constituted.

According to her, “PMS implementation has been cascaded to the Ministries, with the Permanent Secretaries serving as the primary drivers.

“In this regard, performance contracts are to be further cascaded down to the last officer in each MDA.

“This new system will assess each officer’s performance solely based on their respective Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and it will enable tracking of job objectives across all MDAs.

“By implication, each officer across the Service can clearly link his goals and objectives with those of his department, those of the respective Ministry and the national KPIs.

She described the digitalisation of work processes in the Service as another reference point in the on-going transformation of the Federal Civil Service.

She further stressed that the Office has fully digitalised all personal and policy files and is implementing digital transaction of workflow processes, as all official correspondences, in the form of memos, internal and external circulars, are now being processed electronically through the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Career Management Office (CMO), in the Office of Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Adeleye Adeoye, while welcoming participants, noted that education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world.

He further noted that Africa stands a chance to be the best Continent in the world, if only Africans have the best of education.

Adeoye urged civil servants to improve and equip themselves on daily basis with necessary skills and expertise in order to enhance productivity as well as ensure service delivery in the overall interest of the citizenry and the nation at large.