Technical education has to do with the training of technical personnel for the purposes of initiating, facilitating and implementing the technological advancement/development of a nation. Technical education, in Nigeria, has witnessed numerous challenges which include poor funding, inadequate facilities, inadequate human capacity, defective curricula, poorly equipped laboratories, corruption, etc. In this article, we take a look at the challenges as well as the way forward for technical education in Nigeria.
Vocational and technical education is the process of equipping persons with technical skills in order to enable them initiate, facilitate and implement technological advancement in a country.
Vocational and technical training helps the citizens to be self-reliant and self dependent; thereby creating a sustainable economy.
Therefore, vocational and technical education, more than any other profession, has more direct impact on national welfare. This is because the training, acquisition and utilization of relevant skills by the Nigerian people is indispensable for economic growth and national development of the country.
Ideally, technologists ought to solve societal problems in sustainable ways. In order for them to do so, they need to be adequately informed in technical education and its application in solving practical problems in sustainable ways.
Vocational and technical education constitutes a wide variety of skills which include the following:
The process of acquiring technical skills in Nigeria has met lots of challenges, some of which we shall consider in this section of the post.
Our inability to tackle the challenges over the years in Nigeria has put us at a low level in technology and has perpetually made Nigeria a developing nation. In other words, we shall examine some of the reasons behind Nigeria’s inability to convert scientific ideas to useable technology.
The challenges facing the technical education in Nigeria are numerous; however we highlight few of them below:
Government Universities across Nigeria rely predominantly on funds from government; whereas, the private universities obtain their incomes from the fees students pay.
Over the years, governments’ subventions to universities have never been grossly inadequate. Furthermore, available records show that the budgetary allocation to education as a share of GDP has been inadequate to cater for the education needs of the teeming Nigerian population since the inception of a democratic government in 1999.
Dramatic increase in population has led to the increase in the demand for technical education. Consequently, there are no infrastructures to support technical education in the country.
Unfortunately, the non-challant attitude of the government concerning technical education programme has been responsible for the gradual extinction of this programme from the various educational institutions in this country.
The few functional technical education departments in Universities across Nigeria lack workshop and laboratory spaces let alone usable equipment.
Furthermore, it is unfortunate that most technical education departments still make use of engineering workshop and depend on lecturers from engineering departments to teach technical education concepts.
This is unacceptable by all standards and shows irresponsibility on the part of the operators of this programme.
Moreover, available facilities as at today are obsolete.
Put together, these factors explain the low quality of technology programmes in higher institutions across the nation.
The acute shortage of laboratory equipment and supplies in our technical colleges has made it difficult to run experiments effectively for students; thereby, making teaching and research in science and technology difficult.
Consequently, the country is producing ill-equipped technical education graduates who are unable to drive the technological and socio-economic development of Nigeria.
The inadequacy in teaching, laboratory and workshop facilities has contributed to the decline in the quality of technical education graduates in Nigeria.
The dearth of ICT facilities for the training of students is another challenge militating against technical education in Nigeria.
It is difficult to acquire most of the ICT gadgets (e.g. computer and teaching aids) due to cost.
Furthermore, the lack of access to affordable and reliable internet connectivity in most institutions, faculties and offices, has made ICT application in technical education difficult.
In addition, epileptic power supply has reduced significantly, the reliability of the access.
This refers to the migration of lecturers of technical education to other professions and other countries in some cases.
These persons who are needed for the socio-economic and technological development of Nigeria migrate in search for better conditions of service.
Some of these experts in academics moved to other industries where they get better pay for their services; others leave the country to acquire more knowledge and skill but refuse to return; still others leave Nigeria to other countries for better conditions of service, etc.
Reports from reliable sources indicate that approximately forty-five percent of all Nigerian Professionals including technical educators have left the Nigerian shores over the decades since colonization.
Nigeria loses more lecturers from her universities each year, particularly to Europe, America and other African countries where the condition of service is relatively better. These Nigerians in diaspora contribute to economic growth of the destination countries of Europe, America.
The salary and other benefits paid to technical education teachers in Nigeria is one of the lowest in the world; consequently, they migrate to other countries especially in Europe and America or to other local industries for better pay.
Teaching staffs from within even migrate to Botswana and South Africa because of high wages that they pay to the academics and the relatively better equipped laboratories.
This has contributed to the poor state of technical education in the country.
There is the need to overhaul technical education curricula in the Nigeria.
The aim of the overhaul of the curricula will be to adequately equip our youths with the relevant skills needed for their day to day living.
Some of the major issues with the current curricula include the following:
First, the lack of adequate staff, equipment, infrastructure, training opportunities, etc has made it difficult to implement the current model in Nigeria.
Second, the curricula are apparently too academic and overloaded with intellectual content in pure science and mathematics at the expense of basic engineering and technology.
Finally, the current curricula make inadequate provision for humanities, social sciences, business management concepts and entrepreneurial skills development, because of the inadequate preparation of the students for the industry.
Education in general and technical education in particular has been grossly neglected in Nigeria.
Technical educators find it difficult to convince lawmakers on the need to give priority to technical education in allocating resources.
Until the government and other stakeholders pay attention to the proper development of vocational and technical education in Nigeria, the country will ever remain a backward technologically.
Due to corruption, funds allocated for technical education has been largely embezzled and misappropriated by administrators. This factor is a major cause of the failure of development and advancement in the country.
If Nigeria must advance technologically, there is the need to recognize and address the problems and challenges facing vocational and technical education in the country. There is the need to stamp out corruption in order to ensure that resources allocated to the programme are utilized towards the achievement of positive outcomes. Moreover, there is the need for a comprehensive reform toward technical education and a deliberate attempt to uplift the programme to a address the technological needs of the country.
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