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07.05.2024 Featured ‘We’re Now Ashamed to Call Ourselves Graduates’ —Pharmaceutical Technology Students React to NBTE, PCN’s Removal of Course

Published 7th May, 2024

By Opeyemi Lawal

Graduates and undergraduates of pharmaceutical technology, a course of study that deals with the production and dispensation of drugs, have lamented the dis-accreditation of their course by the Federal Ministry of Education, the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN).

A memorandum of agreement scrapping the course from polytechnics was signed on April 17 by the Federal Ministry of Education (NBTE) and the PCN.

The MoU also stated that there would be no fresh admission of students studying the course from the day the MoU was signed and graduates of the course have no place in clinical settings and couldn’t use the certificate for employment in such facilities.

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“That NBTE shall stop forthwith, the accreditation of Higher National Diploma in Pharmaceutical Technology programmes but shall continue such accreditation in respect of National Diploma in Pharmacy Technician in all institutions under its purview,” the MoU reads.

“That graduates of Pharmaceutical Technology have no place in Clinical settings, therefore shall not use the certificates to seek employment in such facilities. That graduates of Pharmaceutical Technology may seek employment in any other sector.”

OUR LIVES AND EFFORTS WOULD BE DRAINED OUT

Sunday Oguntola, who recently graduated after studying the course at the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), told FIJ that the course was dis-accredited from polytechnics as a result of discrimination.

“Our course, pharmaceutical technology studied in polytechnic, deals with the production and administration of drugs, while the one offered at the university level deals only with the administration and dispensation of the same drugs,” Oguntola told FIJ.

“The argument is that the course is too weighty to be studied in polytechnics, and they had been at it for over 22 years before they finally signed the MoU on April 17.

“What is even worse is that all the institutions offering this course have students in classes ranging from the first year of National Diploma (ND) to the final year of Higher National Diploma (HND).

“Some institutions just started offering the course, while others have been doing so for a long time, and these schools must have had over 20 sets of graduates each.”

Roland Joshua, another graduate of pharmaceutical technology who has just completed his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, told FIJ he and other graduates of the course no longer consider themselves graduates.

“We, graduates of pharmaceutical technology, are even ashamed to call ourselves graduates now. More than 80% of us are hustling in other fields; what then is the essence of going to school?” He told FIJ.

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“Where do you expect someone who has finished school and even completed his NYSC programme to start from, knowing that his ambition of becoming a clinical worker has been thrashed just like that? His entire time in school wasted and his certificate worthless after spending five years in school.

“If I wanted to work in the bank, wouldn’t I study accountancy, banking and finance or related stuff? I studied pharmaceutical technology because I wanted to be a clinical worker.

“Their bias and selfish interest have not only ruined our dreams but also made us depressed. What do we tell our parents? What do we do from here, and where do we go? We are crying on every voice to plead with the PCN to take us in as their own. We did not study animal science or fisheries but pharmaceutical technology; meanwhile, most of them (pharmacists) did pharmaceutical technology at postgraduate level.”

Joshua also said that the course was scrapped from polytechnics due to an unending rift between the National Association of Pharmacy Technologists and Technicians in Nigeria (NAPPTON) and the PCN.

He stated that the PCN claims that pharmaceutical technology is their postgraduate course and should not be offered at the undergraduate level.

“It was discovered in our research as students that the PCN is claiming that pharmaceutical technology is one of their fields at the postgraduate level and should not be offered in polytechnics,” he said.

“Also, the intention for the accreditation of this course by the NBTE has been misunderstood by the PCN; the aim of the course, according to the NBTE, is centred on drug compounding and assistance in production, among many others.

“The NAPPTON body that is expected to fight for us does not care; they are old men and women fighting for themselves. With the situation on the ground, some of us are saying maybe we should return to any college of health to study the same course all over for three years. But again, that is just like spending five years in a polytechnic just to do direct entry for a three-year programme.”

A final-year student of the course also told FIJ that his dreams and those of his colleagues had been shattered following the scrapping of the course.

“The scrapping of the course frustrates many of us who have chosen to study it in a polytechnic,” he told FIJ.

“The dream of many to work in a drug-related environment has been shattered, and it doesn’t mean well for a country that seeks technological advancement.

“In many parts of the world, pharmaceutical technology is an established field on its own and plays a vital role in economic development. Nigeria should not be an exception. It is sad that the future of younger ones is being frustrated while our country heavily relies on drug importation.”

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Published 7th May, 2024

By Opeyemi Lawal

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