Prof. Idris Bugaje, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), has proposed making 50 per cent skills acquisition mandatory for all secondary school students.
TheTimes learns that the approach is geared to help students better understand their interests and abilities, improve decision-making skills, and ultimately contribute to their personal and professional development.
Bugaje shared this perspective regarding the NBTE’s newly launched top-up program for HND holders seeking to acquire a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in their chosen field.
He also emphasized the importance of revitalizing Technical Education and Vocational Training (TVET) at the secondary school level, which would aid in identifying and nurturing talents that can lead to profitable enterprises. He therefore stressed the need for early exposure to skills development for students.
What they said
Bugaje elaborated on the need for skills acquisition saying,
- “If you go to Germany that operates a dual system, right from basic education, they expose their children to skills, and at the secondary school, students spend three days in schools and three days in the industries.
- “By the time they are ready for higher education, a quarter of them go to the polytechnics and less than one quarter only go to the university because they have already been exposed to the training received under the dual system.
- ” In Nigeria, when students come out from tertiary institutions, they have no jobs because they are not fit for the industries.
- “So, the government must change the direction and insist that 50 per cent of our secondary school leavers should go for skills training in polytechnics, maybe 30 per cent can go to the university and 20 per cent to the College of Education (COE)”.
He added that this step would enable the government to reposition the polytechnics to have experts to deliver on our projects.
Reducing the need for foreign technicians
He expressed concern over the rate at which the country engaged the services of foreign technicians when we have the expertise to handle the various projects in the country.
Speaking further he said,
- “If you look at the Abuja railway track, it was delivered by the Chinese technicians and we should not allow that to continue because this is leading to capital flight and our youths are there unemployed.
- “Why not give our people the job the good thing about skills training is that within six months you can finish one level and within four years you can cover eight levels.
- “That is why we say the days of degrees are over. In the past degrees were important. In the 19th century, polytechnics were the best mode of training, it was after the First World War that universities began centre stage.
- “All the innovations we are talking about, most of them never came from the universities, electricity that was discovered in the 19th century was not from the university, inventions were from artisans and craftsmen.
- “So let us develop our own, train them to acquire skills because you can have the degree but have no job“.
Skills acquisition before graduation
Bugaje mentioned that the NBTE has initiated efforts to modify the curriculum by incorporating skills and qualifications.
As part of these changes, polytechnic students will be required to acquire a skill related to their field of study before graduating. This approach aims to ensure that students not only gain theoretical knowledge but also practical skills relevant to their chosen courses.
- “From this October, we are adding a skill qualification to every curriculum in the NBTE and if you do not acquire the skills qualification you will not graduate.
- ” We are starting with HND computer science, we have unbundled the course into four. Students will now have to go to Cisco, Microsoft, or any of these big players and get a skills certificate on a particular skill.
- “So we call this dual certification and this will create employment for Nigerians and as well provide a market for Nigerian youths.
- “Indians are taking advantage of that, Bangladesh which has the same population as Nigeria has 11,500 youths working in different parts of the world. Morocco exports almost half a million youths to the Middle East.
- “So, we are saying that Nigerians should not be left behind. They must take advantage of the skills and opportunities they have around them,” he said.