Certificates are important because they serve as proof of the knowledge and skills that a person has acquired. They can be used to demonstrate competence to employers, clients, and other stakeholders. Certificates can also help individuals to advance in their careers by providing evidence of their qualifications and abilities. For some students who have passed through Graceland Polytechnic, Offa, Kwara State, the story is not the same. This is because recent graduates of Graceland Polytechnic, Offa, are facing a certificate crisis as they struggle to obtain their well-deserved diplomas due to the lack of accreditation for some of these courses by the National Board of Technical Education. In this two-part report, Edugist’s, Folaranmi Ajayi chronicles how Graceland Polytechnic, Offa, Kwara State runs NBTE unaccredited programmes, some graduates have certificates that no institution is ready to accept, but others don’t have.
Many students who have completed their Ordinary National Diploma (OND) programmes since 2019 at Graceland Polytechnic allegedly did not receive their certificates to proceed with their Higher National Diploma (HND). This has affected many students who have been forced to wait for extended periods or even start afresh. Reportedly, some affected students have had to start from scratch, either by enrolling in another university at the 100 level or commencing their studies at the National Diploma (ND 1) level in another polytechnic. Many of these students claim that their plights were never communicated to their parents, and their efforts to obtain their certificates have been in vain. In light of the foregoing, Edugist reporter has been speaking to affected students and past students and members of staff of the institution to shed more light on the issue. The situation has caused significant pain to students who have been denied access to the certification they earned through their academic efforts at Graceland Polytechnic.
Background to the report
Graceland Polytechnic, Offa, Kwara State, was established in 2013 by the late Princess Ayodele Oyeleke to run diploma programmes in five courses which are: Business Administration, Computer Science, Statistics, Computer Engineering Technology and Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technology. The Institution commenced operation in 2019. However, when Edugist checked the 2017 directory of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and for Technical and Vocational Institutions in Nigeria, Graceland was not listed among the accredited polytechnics. In the 2021 (latest) directory of accredited courses for polytechnics, NBTE noted that all five coursesaccreditation has expired since October 2020. However, Graceland continues to run its ND programme with the five courses. It plans to admit new students this year (2023).
In the year (2019/2020 academic session) that followed after its maiden matriculation, Graceland Polytechnic introduced four new courses. These courses were also not on the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) CAPS of the school and neither approved by NBTE. With promises to fix the accreditation quagmire soon, the management reportedly admits more students to Science Laboratory Technology; Mass Communication, Technology; Accountancy and Public Health Technology which are unapproved courses in the institution. Even in 2021, NBTE didn’t update the expired list of the approved Graceland courses with the new ones added.
Admitted but graduated without certificates
Edugist learnt that many unsuspecting students have applied for Graceland courses and were given admission, most of which was based on a promise to get NBTE approval soon. However, the promise has not seen the light. In the 2020/2021 academic session, Graceland Polytechnic introduced two new courses which are Building Technology and Library and Information Science. But, NBTE has never approved more than the maiden five of Graceland, which already expired since 2020, according to its 2021 directory. “In 2021, I was admitted to Graceland Polytechnic to study SLT,” one of the student-victims, Fatima told Edugist. “But after learning from those who have left the school that our programme has not been accredited at Graceland. I, alongside others, decided to leave in 2022.” Another student, Adeyemi Temitope told Edugist that she studied mass communication, and paid for all levies, department, faculty and all but after graduation, there is nothing to show for it. “We paid 1,000 naira for department fees and over 60,000 naira for school fees, after graduation, they promised us that we will be able to get our results. We are still hoping and I have not been able to sponsor my education due to this.”
Graceland Polytechnic charged students 60,000 naira as tuition fees as of 2021 without accredited courses and certificates – why study?
Under Education (National Minimum Standards And Establishment Of Institutions) ACT, LFN 2004, the purpose of higher education shall be::
(a) the acquisition, development and inculcation of the proper value orientation for the survival of individuals and society; (b) the development of the intellectual capacities of individuals to understand and appreciate their environment; (c) the acquisition of both physical and intellectual skills to enable individuals to develop into useful members of the community; (d) the acquisition of an objective view of the local and external environment;
(e) the making of optimum contributions to national development through the training of higher-level manpower;
(f) the promotion of national unity by ensuring that admission of students and recruitment of staff into universities and other institutions of higher learning shall, as far as possible, be on a broad national basis;
(g) the promotion and encouragement of scholarship and research. This purpose, especially the article (f) may have been breached by Graceland Polytechnic, offering admissions to study unaccredited programmes by NBTE.
Legally, a lawsuit can be filed, Bushra Ghazal, an Oyo-based Lawyer said the institution may be sued for a breach of contract as students paid tuition fees for a promise to be offered a certificate at the end of their programme. Anything else outside this is a breach of contract. Graceland Polytechnic charges students 60,000 naira as tuition fees as of 2021. If the lawsuit is filed, Graceland Polytechnic may stand to refund all tuition fees and other miscellaneous fees paid to the institution by the students, as long as the certificates were not issued.
“We’re about five in number who left,” Fatima continued. “Taiwo, Ayo, Kike, Aunty Abibat, among others close to a 100. The school said they will get the approval for the courses but they hadn’t until we left.” Graceland has not accredited or re-accredited any of its courses, according to the NBTE 2021 directory. Blessing (name withheld) lamented that she was a Business Administration student in the school in 2021 until she learnt that the department has yet to be accredited. “I left immediately,” she told Edugist “because it will just be like a waste of time, after all the stress and money.”
Graceland Polytechnic has yet to have its several programmes accredited
Edugist reports that in 2020, the first and second sets of students at Graceland Polytechnic graduated without approval or accreditation of their courses. Despite completing their studies, the students did not receive notifications of their results or their certificates. Consequently, these students have been unable to proceed with their Higher National Diploma (HND) or Direct Entry for a Bachelor’s degree. They have been left with no other option than to take the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) or enrol in another institution.
A message from Osun educator, Odedele Temilade on the situation
As a tutor and mentor of many students, I have some students whom I tutored for Joint Admission Matriculation Board(JAMB) in 2019 who enrolled on Graceland Polytechnic, Offa. Some of them enrolled in school to get certified as National Diploma holders in Mass Communication, Science Laboratory technology, among others. But my clear observation was that some of those students who graduated from the school in 2022 were unable to get their certificates which is disheartening because they have done well and paid the price to get certified by the institution. From my research and interrogation of those affected students, I learnt that they have some courses which are not accredited by National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). According to Temilade Odedele, students preparing for the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) exams, a significant number of his former students who enrolled in Graceland Polytechnic to pursue National Diploma programs, including Mass Communication and Science Laboratory Technology, have been unable to receive their certificates. Further investigation revealed that the cause of the certificate crisis lies in the inclusion of courses that lack accreditation from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
Edugist obtained video footage showing how some of the affected students were protesting against the issues at the Graceland Polytechnic campus. However, no resolution has been reached, and some of the students reported being dispersed by police officers.
Edugist has also learned that to this day, Graceland Polytechnic, Offa is still admitting students to a number of unaccredited courses.
Despite repeated attempts by Edugist to obtain comments from the registrar of the institution, the efforts have been unsuccessful. In other words, all efforts to elicit valuable information from the institution’s registrar, Abiodun Ibitoye have proven abortive because he would not answer questions.