• Friday, April 12, 2024
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How to make technical education thrive in Nigeria

How to make technical education thrive in Nigeria

Technical and vocational education is key to boosting the economy and development of every developing nation in the 21st century.

According to UNESCO, the fundamental purpose of technical and vocational education is to equip people with skills that can broaden their opportunities in life and help them to play an important role in preparing them for the world of work and to provide them with the skills necessary for self-employment.

Put in another way, vocational and technical education is a system of learning that leads to the acquisition of practical and applied skills as well as basic scientific knowledge. It is fundamentally structured to help prepare students for productivity and to inculcate skills in them that will make them self-reliant and/or employers of labour. Hence, technical education serves as a panacea to the corrosive unemployment stream flowing across the length and breadth of the country.

With a 33 percent unemployment rate, experts suggest that there will be a need for more blue-collar jobs to tackle the projected intimidating unemployment rise ahead. And that in essence, it means many will rely on self-sustaining jobs to survive, which calls for technical/vocational skills.

Technical education, according to the Nigerian national policy on education, is concerned with qualitative technological human resources development directed towards a national pool of skilled and self-reliant craftsmen, technicians and technologists in technical and vocational education fields.

Besides, the policy’s aims and objectives are providing trained manpower in the technology, advanced craft, and technical levels, provision of vocational skills for the agricultural and economic development and it is also a targeted form of skill acquisition for the youths.

There are without doubt some other nagging challenges such as weak capital base, poor funding, poor technology among others, which result in graduates with low skills, but the dearth of technical instructors stands out as the mother of them all.

This is so because when a teacher who is not sound in his discipline is made to train others, the result is not far-fetched; such a teacher will end up producing mediocre. It is like asking an amateur swimmer to save a drowning person; they both will end up drowning.

Read also: Transforming the Nigerian education sector (I)

Isaac Miller, chief lecturer, metalwork technology department, school of technical education, Federal College of Education (Technical), (FCET) Akoka- Lagos, said qualified teachers are key to producing credible students.

“A person who is qualified to teach in a technical institution is someone who is certificated having undergone training in technical education programmes. He must have acquired both practical and theoretical training, besides having the skills to impact knowledge,” Miller said.

Ezeoguine Juliana, dean, school of vocational education, (FCET), Akoka, in the same vein stressed that for one to be considered qualified to teach in vocational school, such a person must have obtained the necessary vocational skills-oriented in his/her chosen discipline.

In the same vein, many other experts in the profession maintained that for the effective and efficient impartation of technical knowledge a would-be teacher/instructor must at least have certain qualifications.

Buttressing this point, Adesuyi Hezekiah, dean, school of technical education (FCET), Akoka said that for a vocational and technical teacher/instructor in secondary schools such a person must have at least National Certificate in Education (NCE) in line with his chosen discipline to qualify him to teach in Junior Secondary Schools in line with the National policy.

Technical education programmes cover courses such as metalworks technical education, automobile technical education, building technology education, woodworks technology education, electrical/electronic technical education, etc.

While vocational education has amongst others; home economics, agricultural science education, fine and applied arts education, cosmetology, computer techniques, sewing, tye and dye, etc.

As a grooming centre for would-be teachers in vocational and technical colleges, governments at state and federal levels have colleges of education (Technical) established all over the country where the trainers are trained.

Moreover, some of the courses being taught in technical and vocational schools are also taught in some higher institutions where individuals can be tutored both in theory and practical works. Such institutions are; National Teachers’ Institute, Federal College of Education, Technical, State College of Education, Technical, etc.

Nevertheless, the federal government of Nigeria established technical teachers training programme (TTTP) earlier on because of the pressing needs in the country for trained and qualified teaching staff at all levels of the educational system. The programme aims to produce more teachers for technical and vocational education in basic and post-basic schools across the country.

According to Miller, “Federal government introduced the TTTP initiative in 1970 to promote the acquisition of technical and vocational knowledge and skills based on the introduction of the national policy on education. The implementation of the programme commenced in 1981, when Nigeria signed a bilateral agreement with the government of the United States of America to train 500 technical teachers annually for a period of 10years.

However, after running the programme for 6years during the Bab Fafunwa era as minister of education, the agreement was reviewed to domesticate the training locally in selected institutions across the country. The department of technology and science education under Musa Abdullahi as director was saddled with the responsibility to coordinate the training programme.”

And to actualise the TTTP, the federal ministry of education collaborated with training institutions in the past, both within and outside the country in manpower development and on-the-job training for technically-oriented teachers.

Besides, there are ongoing arrangements whereby technical teachers are availed with grants through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).

The government through the TetFund has made provisions for the training of technical and vocational teachers in order for them to update their knowledge bearing in mind that there are no bad teachers only untrained ones.

Besides, this has helped the system in boosting the human capacity to handle technical programmes in our various institutions.

Many technical teachers through these grants (local and foreign) are able to pursue and complete their programmes obtaining various degrees according to their levels (some Masters degree, others PhD in their various areas of specializations).

The TTTP is one of the courses in the National Teachers’ Institute. The National Teachers’ Institute is dedicated to teacher training across the country. The federal government established it in 1976 primarily because of the pressing needs in the country for trained and qualified teaching staff at all levels of the educational system.

Act No. 7 of April 10, 1978, establishing the institute charged it among others with the responsibility of providing courses of instruction leading to the development, upgrading and certification of teachers as specified in the relevant syllabus using distance education techniques.

The institute’s vision also includes producing teachers trained and oriented to meet the challenges of twenty-first-century Nigerian society.

In spite of all these efforts by the government, it was discovered that the number of teaching staff in various vocational and technical colleges falls short of the required numbers. And this has given rise to the adoption and employment of assistant teachers, especially at a higher cadre of vocational and technical knowledge impartation.

Assistant teachers are accommodated to handle practicals in vocational and technical institutions.

To ensure that the college does not run short of teachers, one of the departmental heads in a vocational institution explained that sometimes some exceptional students are retained, especially in departments where there is a shortage of instructors.

This according to him is based on the fact that the policy behind the establishment of their vocational centre is to develop women and youths who would be self-reliant and to alleviate poverty.

The training of technical teachers in Nigeria is not best if the objectives and aims of producing students who are masters in their chosen careers are not realised.

The training of technical teachers in Nigeria must be geared towards the promotion of the acquisition of technical and vocational knowledge and skills in tandem with the national policy on education. It must be aimed at producing more teachers for technical and vocational education in basic and post-basic schools across the country

If Nigeria is to achieve the objective of the “education for change” agenda of the Muhammed Buhari led administration, Nigeria must produce graduates who will compete favourably in the labour market as well as be self-reliant.

Nigeria is on the right track with the establishment of the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) a body saddled with the responsibility of monitoring and regulating the teaching profession to ensure that only qualified teachers are put in place at various institutions of learning.

Vocational and technical education has a vital role to play in the technological advancement of Nigeria as a country. It is a proven fact that the training, acquisition and utilization of relevant skills by the citizenry are indispensable for economic growth and national development. With this in mind, the country should focus on education policy which will seek to introduce a functional technology-based education that could sustain the nation’s economic activities for rapid socio-economic development.