A report on the state of our polytechnic institutes in yesterday's issue of this newspaper makes dismal reading. And it does because it demonstrates graphically the various ailments that these institutes have been suffering from over the years. What does amaze one is the fact that hardly any steps have been taken to deal with all the anomalies stymieing these institutes. Consider this: as much as 46 per cent of faculty positions remain unfilled at 49 polytechnic and mono-technic institutes in the country. Now, with no fewer than 24,000 students taking admission in these institutes on an annual basis, the question can be legitimately raised as to why conditions have been allowed to come to such a pass. Or are we to suppose that the polytechnic institutes, which have always played a crucial role in producing mid-level technicians and engineers, are being quietly being sidelined?
As it is, enrollment to science education is declining. And if the state of technical institutes is in such dire straits then how it would affect science education is a matter to seriously ponder.
If that is so, it becomes the moral responsibility of the authorities to go into the very disturbing matter of the extent to which bureaucracy has been contributing to the situation at these institutes. In recruitment and promotion, among other factors, there have been suspicions regarding the modalities followed by the authorities of the polytechnic institutes. And the suspicions have been enough to give rise to frustration among the teaching staff. Add to that the reality of the inadequacy of teaching staff, which in turn has compelled many teachers into being burdened with extra classes. The truth is that teaching under pressure only leads to a maiming of education. Twenty nine institutes have 62 per cent of teaching positions vacant. Twelve of them have no principals. The results can only be horrendous.
Such conditions cannot be permitted to go on. The education ministry must get a move on to remove the anomalies and set technical education on a course compatible with the increasing demand for technical hands in the country.