Posted on March 27, 2018
Yes. Technical education in Nigeria is not without its challenges such as inadequate funding, infrastructural deficiency, Nigeria’s epileptic power supply, inadequate laboratories and workshops as well as disproportionate emphasis on business. Our teachers also lack modern tools to impart knowledge. Despite these inhibitions, Nigerian technical institutions are still able to deliver on their mandate.
For instance, here at the Federal Polytechnic, Offa, our students recently concluded their union elections and it will surprise you to know that our students designed the e-voting software that was used for the elections.
In addition, we have started accreditation of mechanical and electrical equipment in various departments which we intend to use.
Our students were also able to design the solar energy in use in almost all departments of this institution. I do not want to restrict the achievements recorded by our technical institutions only to Offa Poly. Look at the tricycles being used all over the place, it was invented here in Kwara State School of Technology but it was not commercialised back then. Somebody went to China to bring in a similar product and now it is used in many states of the federation.
I am a product of Kwara State Technology too. I know that it was invented here but somebody took that product somewhere and mass-produced it. There are other products invented by technical institutions across Nigeria.
Frankly speaking, Nigerian technical schools are fulfilling their mandate despite the problems we are facing. If these challenges can be addressed, the efforts we are making will not only be noticed but will be better appreciated. The schools need better funding.
The issue of infrastructural deficiency should also be addressed. For instance, the issue of power alone can be addressed. It will save us a lot of cost, especially the cost of fuelling generators.
To be globally competitive, we also need to upgrade our laboratory equipment for teaching and learning. We are also in dire need of proper funding because you can only carry out meaningful research with the right kind of equipment.
If these challenges are fully addressed, this country will attain the level of technological growth never seen before on this continent.
- Prof. Michael Kwanashie (Vice Chancellor, Veritas University, Abuja)
The standard of technical schools in the country gradually collapsed over the last three decades. The dearth of skilled and technical hands contributed to this collapse. There was once a conscious effort by the government to develop technical and vocational skills. So, we used to have technical colleges, teachers’ colleges and others.
But presently, education has become more elitist. Everyone wants a degree. Nobody even wants to go to these technical colleges anymore because the values being espoused by our leaders tend to support this position.
Most of the technical colleges we have presently have collapsed. They have no equipment and lack the required teachers. It is so bad that today, if you need a very skilled plumber or any other artisan, you have to go to Benin and Togo; you have to leave the country to be able to get them. This is so because the government and the citizens have neglected technical and vocational education. Everyone wants to have a Bachelor’s Degree.
It is our value system that is faulty. The mindset of Nigerians is to look for white collar jobs and sit in offices. People don’t want to work with their hands. What we can do is to bring back values and development programmes that will encourage vocational education and skills acquisition.
The government is trying to encourage people through the provision of capital to establish themselves in business. But we still have to go back and address the challenges facing our technical schools.
- Lekan Oketokun (Lecturer/Peace and Conflict Resolution expert)
Nigerian technical schools have not lived up to expectations with respect to fulfilling their mandate.
Technical education was designed to develop skilled workforce relevant to the emerging employment market needs and bridge the deficiency in vocational manpower in order to provide the needed middle level manpower that will drive the nation towards technological development. However, the current training systems in our technical schools do not equip learners with the skills they need to actualise this.
There is a serious shortfall in equipment and facilities needed for training systems in these technical schools. There is also the serious issue of under-funding of these schools by government at all levels.
Quality teachers are not being attracted to these schools because of these. Besides, the curricula used in many of these schools are antiquated.
These are some of the reasons why many of these schools are not living up to their mandate. There is, therefore, the need to address some of these challenges for technical schools to change for the better.
- Alhaji Mas’ud Elelu (Chairman, Council of Heads of Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology in Nigeria)
Not at all. For now, they are not fulfilling it (their mandate); that is the straightforward answer.
We have to look at what their mandate is. Their mandate is to train middle level technical manpower to help develop the economy. For now, that is not happening in most sectors of the economy.
Government at all levels should take the blame; the organised private sector should come in to assist in the areas of funding and provision of equipment.
There is also the need to get the right personnel to man these technical schools so that they can fulfil their mandate.
In the last few years, we have had strategic plans to find out what we really need and since the polytechnic is supposed to have an admission ratio of 70/30 per cent in favour of science and technology, we have focused all our energies towards ensuring that we meet the mandate given to us in this respect.
We have received commendations from many organisations within and outside Nigeria and we have also partnered many of them to ensure that we meet this requirement.
In Kwara Poly for example, we have made progress in the area of the use of biogas which we have been able to develop, use and replicate in some places. We generate gas from cow dung and use it to power generators.
Many individuals and organisations have come to learn a thing or two from us about this technology because it is more efficient and environmental-friendly when compared to natural gas.
- Abechi Ikpeme (Lecturer, Kaduna Polytechnic)
To a very large extent, technical schools are living up to their mandate. The problem we are facing today is the undue attention given to other aspects of education to the detriment of technical and vocational education. Most people today would prefer their children taking up professions that will see them sitting on a chair behind a big desk.
Even those who are interested in technical education are not being encouraged because even in recruitment into the civil service, those with Higher National Diploma are discriminated against.
It is a shame that at this stage, we still have to import craft and tradesmen from places like Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana to handle construction work here in Nigeria. We cannot pretend that all is well; we need better equipped laboratories and workshops, and better welfare packages for teachers in the field. Technical and vocational education holds the key to the development of any nation, especially a developing nation such as Nigeria.
It will take a conscious effort by all stakeholders to return to the era of inventions using our abundant human and natural resources.