PROJECT TOPIC- APPRAISAL OF THE MANAGEMENT OF FEDERAL POLYTECHNICS IN SOUTH EAST NIGERIA
This study was carried out to appraise the management of Federal Polytechnics in South Eastern Nigeria. The purpose of the study was to determine the extent of management adherence to the established guidelines in administration of Polytechnics. Five research questions and five null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The study adopted a descriptive survey design and the population of the study consisted of 450 respondents comprising 129 heads of department/unit and 321 senior administrative staff. They were all used for the study, so no sampling of the population. A 48-item questionnaire was developed by the researcher and used to collect information pertinent to the research study. The instrument was validated by five experts and trial tested on 20 heads of department/unit and senior administrative staff at Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi. The reliability estimate was computed using Cronbach Alpha method. The data collected were analysed using real limit of number.
Mean scores and standard deviation were used to answer the research questions while the t-test statistic was used to test the null hypothesis. Some major findings of the study were that heads of department/unit and senior administrative staff were involved to a little extent in planning practices such as involving stakeholders during planning, taking joint action and decision as well as recommending resources necessary for
achieving desired goals. Also free flow of information from subordinates to superiors was adhered to a little extent. Adherence to financial regulations were to a little extent in most areas of financial management such as planning for the procurement and management of Polytechnic funds, use of auditors for proper accounting, following financial due process in awarding contracts. Staff recruitment to a great extent, depends on personal interest of top management staff, and planning for promotion and maintenance of existing facilities and equipment are to a little extent attended to in each of the Federal Polytechnics. Based on the findings of the study, the researcher recommended that all stakeholders be involved during planning; recruitment of staff be based on merit, among others. Limitations of the study were also highlighted and then suggestions for further research were made.
Background of the Study
Polytechnics are higher institutions set up primarily to produce indepth technical manpower in administrative, technical and commercial fields for the development of national economy. In Nigeria, it is widely recognized that polytechnics play crucial roles in the education of future leaders and development of high level technical manpower. According to the National Board for Technical Education (1993), polytechnics are technical institutions offering multi post-secondary technical education programmes outside the universities leading to the award of diplomas/certificates such as the National Diploma (ND), Higher National Diploma HND) and Post-HND professional diplomas.
Okpeodua (2007) opines that the decision of the Federal Government to set up polytechnic education was predicated on the decision to revolutionize the society technologically. Hence, polytechnics are established to train and produce the technical manpower necessary for the execution of the nation’s development plans, goals and strategies. This is a role which they have effectively played since the establishment of the first polytechnic, Yaba College of Technology, in 1947.
The sensitive position of polytechnics in the Nigerian educational system is vividly captured by the 2002 education summit organized by the Federal Ministry of Education. In the summit, polytechnics were recognized as authentic tertiary educational institutions on the same pedestal as universities, but with its own characteristic orientation towards the production of technological manpower and technological innovation for industrial development in Nigeria.
The federal ministry of education summit (2002) therefore resolved that the mission of polytechnics is to
produce knowledgeable and innovative graduates worthy in character and learning through effective teaching, research and public service for the technological advancement of the country.
The core functions of polytechnics as captured in section (2) of federal polytechnic Act (1979) are: (a) to provide full-time or part-time courses of instruction and training in technology, applied science, commerce and management, and in such other fields of applied learning relevant to the needs of the development of Nigeria in the areas of industrial and agricultural production and distribution and for research in the development and
adaptation of techniques as the council may from time to time determine; (c) to arrange conferences, seminars and study groups relative to the
fields of learning specified in paragraph (a) of this subsection (i); (d) to perform such other functions as in the opinion of Council may serve to promote the objectives of the polytechnic (p.5878).
PROJECT TOPIC- APPRAISAL OF THE MANAGEMENT OF FEDERAL POLYTECHNICS IN SOUTH EAST NIGERIA
In the same vein, section 80(c) of the National policy on Education (FRN) (2004) states that “polytechnics shall give training and impact necessary skills that will fast track the nation’s drive towards technological development as well as producing graduates who can prove themselves worthy men and women and who are able to use their brain as adequately as they can apply their hands. Therefore, management of polytechnics is a complex task which requires sufficient expertise in administration, communication, handling of staff related issues, financial management, and maintenance of structures, facilities and equipment.
Notwithstanding the functions and stated objectives, evidence on ground shows that many polytechnics are not capable of realizing objectives due to non-adherence to the established guidelines for the management of polytechnics. This is true because the management of these polytechnics are pointed out by Obi (2003) seem not to involve all the stakeholders in their efforts to achieve goals. Management do not follow the right communication channels to reach everybody involved in the achievement of these goals and hence there appear to be gap between planning and
Without effective communication, nothing can happen, no instruction can be given, no corrections will be taken and this could lead to misunderstanding, confusion and frustration. Management is expected to see that financial management is taken care of as this will not only maintain a great deal of trust on the concerned staff but will equally stimulate free and fair financial flow. Obi (2009) acknowledged the above view when he stated that financial accounting serves as a means of rendering an account of stewardship and general financial management. The management of polytechnics is expected to see that the right caliber of staff are recruited and that there is proper provision and maintenance of instructional facilities and equipment.
According to Umeasiegbu (2005), the above components are seen as management processes and can also be referred to as management practices.
In the light of the above, Armstrong (2004) asserts that management is concerned with investing in people and developing an organization’s human capital.
According to Obi (2003:48), “management are the people who decide to use as many of the institutions most valuable resources, its skilled employees, equipment, information system and financial assets”. Obi’s definition implies that management contributes a lot to human progress because it is geared towards effective utilization of human and material resources.
However, there seem to be lack of managerial competences existing among management and staff in different polytechnics. Umeasiegbu (2005) observed that certain problems like misappropriation and misapplication of funds, poor interpersonal relationship, poor supervision and staffing, absence of team work, poor planning, rigidity in approach to human problems, admission racketeering, strikes, downright stubbornness of some officials, among others, abound in many Polytechnics. Still on the apparent lack of proper management, Umeasiegbu (2005) opined that some category of managerial staff that attracts odium, disdain, disrespect, non-complementary remark should be avoided in the entire polytechnic system.
The implication of the above observations is that there is an issue of poor quality management staff in Nigeria polytechnics and this is capable of affecting the quality of services rendered by staff of these polytechnics. Reacting to the rampant cases of poor management of polytechnics, Onwuchekwa (1993) and Mgbodile (2003) observed that management of these polytechnics have been challenging and is capable
of hindering the achievement of stated objectives.
In order to adequately achieve the desired educational objectives of polytechnics, management staff should adhere to stipulated guidelines as nonadherence to guidelines may adversely affect management effort as well as educational standard.
Regarding the extent of involvement of management staff in the planning practices of federal polytechnics, the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) through its planning, research and statistics department, stated that: Essentially NBTE is the main planner in charge of different educational programmes in the polytechnics. The management of the polytechnic made up of the Rector and other management staff shall plan to meet the longterm stated objectives. Management shall plan in both words and action to carry everybody along in the pursuance of any objective and that all stakeholders should be involved during planning.
Again, section 3(1) of the Federal Polytechnic Decree No. 33 of 1979 stated that the Governing Council is a body in-charge of the general planning and management of the affairs of the polytechnics and have the right to delegate functions, as they may consider appropriate to any management staff (heads of departments/unit and senior administrative staff inclusive).
On this note, Massie (1987) stated that planning is a fundamental activity in human enterprises and that it is the function of management in which a conscious choice or pattern of influence is determined for decision makers so that the many decisions will be co-ordinated for some period of time and will be directed towards the chosen goals. This gives room for dynamism and continuous improvement among NBTE, management of polytechnics, and the staff of polytechnics.
However, as Onwuchekwa (1993) observed, poor management and lack of participation on the part of all stakeholders has derailed the planning practices in polytechnics. This is essentially one of the issues to be investigated in this study.
Regarding the extent to which management of polytechnics employ effective communication channels in the administration of the polytechnics, Fiske (1990) stated that communication is a social interaction through message. He maintained that communication is the process of conveying messages (facts, ideas, attitudes, and opinions) from one person to another so that they are understood.
The channel of communication, which is also known as the medium is the means through which the message is passed to the target audience. It is the connecting link between the sender and the receiver of the message. According to Bittner (1989), organizational communication is essentially interpersonal in outlook and the channels which it uses has been articulated as follows: employee handbook that spells out the employees right and obligations, the newsletter which keeps the employees abreast of latest policy changes and activities of the organization; the procedure manual that explains how each particular case should be handled as well as direct contacts between managers and employees, oral (spoken) and written; electronic (intranet system), opinion boxes, notice board; memos and letters, team briefing (p.98).
Reacting on the need to maintain standard communication channels in any organization (polytechnics inclusive), Armstrong, (2003) stated that the patterns, the routes, channels and techniques of communication are the important parts of the equipment of any organization and the pre-eminent problems of many organization.
Ukeje (1992) stated that lack of suitable channels of communication defeats the purpose of any organization. However, evidence on ground seems to suggest that there are poor communication channels in the polytechnics and such is the concern of this study.
Regarding the provision of the polytechnics manual on financial management, the polytechnic Act (1979) on financial provisions states that:
each council shall keep proper accounts and proper records in relation thereto and shall cause to be prepared not latter than 1st October in each
financial year, with estimate of its revenue and expenditure for the ensuing financial year and when prepared, the estimates shall be submitted to the National Board for Technical Education for approval.
The manual also provides that the statement of accounts when certified by the Rector, be
audited by a firm of auditors appointed from the list and in accordance with the guidelines supplied by the Auditor-General of the federation and shall be published in the annual report of the polytechnic. Moreso, on donations of money by individuals, agencies or organizations, the polytechnic
Manual states that donations of money to be applied to any particular purpose shall be placed to the credit of a special reserve account approved
by the council until such time as they may be expended in fulfillment of such purpose (p. 5897).
It follows therefore that budget preparation, disbursement of funds, the use of funds and fund management form a core aspect of management in polytechnics and this is also the concern of this study especially as regards to how the provisions on financial management are adhered to.
Regarding staff recruitment, section 2 (2) of the NBTE manual for polytechnics provides: that all established posts shall be advertised and that basic qualifications laid down in the advertisement shall be followed while shortlisting. Section 2:3 made the provision that every appointment
to an established post shall be made in writing by the Registrar, or the officer authorized on his behalf, and shall not be valid until it has been accepted in writing (See Appendix).
Mgbodile (1997) stated that recruitment of staff is simply a selection process of choosing, based on clear- cut criteria, the best suited and most qualified candidates from a list of applicants. Armstrong (2003) on his part emphasized on the importance of advertisement through newspapers, radio, television and billboards. Evidence on ground shows that some of the above established guidelines are lacking and or are not followed by the management of polytechnics.
Okeke (2007) observed that these procedures are prone to political influences and dishonest practices that the body
incharge sometimes recruit whom they cherish most. On his own part, Ujo (2008) frowned at this negative practices and pointed out that non-adherence to the established staff recruitment criteria eventually will give room for patronage system where incompetence abound in the entire polytechnic system.
The extent to which provisions on recruitment of staff is adhered to is one of the issues this study focuses on.
Regarding the extent to which management of polytechnics promote the culture of maintenance of institutional facilities and equipment, Fenker (2004) stated that facilities management is a process that ensures that buildings and other technical systems support the operations of an organizations.
Morestill, Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) (2002) through International Facilities Management Association states that: facilities management is the practice of co-ordination of the physical workplace with the people and the work of the organizations; it integrates the principles of business administration, architecture and the behavioural and engineering sciences (p.
Experience from staff shows that facilities in most of the polytechnics are decaying and hence, such perceived neglects, decays and lack of proper maintenance has given room for a research and appraisal of the management of polytechnics especially Federal Polytechnics in the South-East of Nigeria, particularly with regards to adherence to provisions on facilities management.
In view of the already identified core problems of management in polytechnics, an appraisal of the management of federal polytechnics in South-East becomes very important and urgent to ascertain the extent the management of polytechnics adhere to the stipulated guidelines.