By Samuel Edu
Underdevelopment, joblessness and attendant poverty will continue to plague the nation unless it places more emphasis on technical education, some university dons have warned.
They contended that Nigeria has remained a consuming nation and backward economically and technologically due largely to the relegation of technical education.
They believed that promotion of technical education is the foundation for production of goods and services.
They made the submissions in separate interviews with The Hope over the weekend.
Those who spoke with The Hope include: Prof Folorunso Bamidele, Prof Olusola Ehindero, Prof.Morufu Adeleke, all from the Department of Science and Technical Education, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
Others are; Professor Bayo Aborisade; Federal University of Technology Akure and Professor Olayemi Simon-Oke, Department of Economics, Federal University of Technology Akure.
Professor Folorunso Bamidele who is also the Head of the Department of Science and Technical Education, OAU said technical education is all about having requisite skills for effective service delivery.
“Technical education entails having skills which will in turn create avenue for multiple streams of income for people instead of going after certificate and academic oriented jobs.
“Graduates of technical education are job creators on their own unlike the sciences. Take a look at China, their economy is being assisted majorly through people with technical skills and that is why most of the manufactured products we use in Nigeria are made in China.
“This is the major backbone of their economy, I think it is high time Nigeria followed same path instead of shunning out university graduates every year with certificates devoid of the requisite skills.
Folorunso admonished the government to give more attention to Nigeria’s various technical institutions, stressing that it is the only way out of the continual fall of Naira against dollar.
“If the government can give more preference to technical education and allow it to flourish, we will have so many experts in different skills who will help in the manufacturing of several products, I believe strongly that this is what the country needs at the moment.
Former Dean, Faculty of Education, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and the current Vice Chancellor of West African Union University, Kotonu, Professor Olusola Ehindero said the curriculum of technical education is relevant and has the potential of attracting notable entrepreneurs.
“It is quite unfortunate that the academic curriculum today had been designed to exclude those who are technically oriented, the attitude of the government towards technical education has also reflected in the bankruptcy in our curriculum development.
“Government have no incentive for people who left technical schools, government have no investment in technical and entrepreneurship education and it is quite unfortunate that no teacher is proud of working in technical institutions.
“The content of the 2019 National Education Policy better explains the attitude of our leaders towards technical education, they always emphasize white collar jobs to the detriment of technical education and this is the reason why we are still where we are today.
“This is the main reason for our backwardness. We keep producing graduates without requisite skills to thrive in the labour market. It is high time the government concentrated on technical education for the betterment of the nation.
Prof. Morufu Adeleke also of the Department of Science and Technical Education, OAU said with the reality in the present day Nigeria, skill acquisition is the only way to go.
“Giving the present reality surrounding Nigeria as a nation particularly in the education sector, technical education is the best way to go. This is the only means through which we can be salvaged from this dearth of skills plaguing our industries.
“Many of the countries that are advanced today are producing countries rather than consuming countries and one of the things that can make a country productive is when the citizens do not rely on the government for jobs but find something doing rather than looking for white collar jobs.”
From the Federal University of Technology Akure, Prof. Bayo Aborisade also stressed the indispensability of skills over paper qualifications or certificates.
“There are two things we should value, and these include knowledge set and skill set, they go hand in hand, the latter is much more essential than the former because the former is more of abstract.
“Skills are indispensable, skills are learnt majorly through technical education and any nation that wants advancement must invest more in technical education.”
Stressing on the economic benefits of technical education, his counterpart from the Department of Economics, Professor Olayemi Simon-Oke said “it is high time government across all levels saw the necessity of technical education.
“The economy of the western nations is booming because of their maximal investments in technical education. You will see a Chinese at a very tender age going into the tech industry and manufacturing several gadgets, they are trained for this from childhood and that is why they are leading.
“Either we take it or leave it, technical education will make our economy better than running after certificate without having the requisite skills.”