From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Executive Secretary, National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Prof Idris Bugaje, has called for the re-engineering and reinvention of technical colleges across the country in order to boost polytechnic education and increase skills acquisition among Nigerian youths.
Prof Bugaje said it was worrisome that technical colleges, which are supposed to serve as major sources of admission for polytechnics in the country are being abandoned with all the machinery rotting away.
The NBTE boss spoke on Wednesday at the Review of 10 National Technical Certificates (NTC) and Advance National Technical Certificates (ANTC) Curricular Workshop in Kaduna.
“Technical colleges and technical teachers training are required so that we can reinvent and re-engineer the technical colleges.
“Our polytechnics in Nigeria are supposed to admit students from technical colleges, but because the admission to technical colleges is so low, less than 1 per cent of 123 technical schools out of over 15000 secondary schools. The population is less than the average secondary school.
“We will not go anywhere if we do not re-engineer and reinvent the technical college. One way of doing that is in the curriculum which you are already doing, but most importantly we need to put the correct infrastructure, we need to improve the environment. We need to kill this broken window syndrome- once you go to a technical college, the gate is broken, the windows are broken, the machines are dilapidated… that has to change.
“We need proper infrastructure, proper machinery and to train the teachers. Those who (studied )sociologists and Nigerian languages (that are teaching in technical colleges) should be booted out from those schools. Recruit the right people to lead them.
“I know of a technical school where somebody who studied Hausa is the principal! What does he knows about skills?
“Technical colleges must also be linked so that they can provide dual certification- ATC and ANTC.
“Everybody is talking about the German dual system whereby children in sub-tertiary level go to school for three days and three days apprenticeship in industry. Our own version of the dual system is let them do the conventional NAPTIP exams, NTC etc, but let them also do NSQ, so that they would be able to get two certificates. If they want to pursue diplomas, they can hold their NTC and get admitted to do their diploma.
“If they want to follow a vocational track, they can now do higher levels of NST…They should be able to train students who will fit into the AKK gas pipeline, so we should see Nigerian youths replacing Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia which are having millions of skilled construction workers.
“We should see Nigerians making quality furniture so that we will stop importing from Turkey or China.
“So we really need to change the whole setting so that these products of technical schools will now fit into the industry.
“There must be links to industry in their studies. So the task is a Herculean task, so we must start with the first steps which I mentioned.
“Our hope is that in the next five years, we should move admissions to technical colleges from below 1 per cent to at least 5 per cent.
“In another 10 years we should move to at least 25 per cent and in another 15 years we should move admissions to technical schools from 25 to 50 per cent.
“That should be the win-win situation for skills in Nigeria so that technical colleges will be at par with the conventional secondary schools so that polytechnics would be directed only to admit students from the technical colleges.
“It is the absence of students from technical colleges that polytechnics are admitting students from conventional secondary schools.
“By the time we have that 50 – 50 ratio, Nigeria will have no problem with skills production both for local needs and for export. So this should be the way to go … If the government is committed, we don’t even need a loan,” Prof Bugaje said.