Nigeria: Suffused with talents, plagued by stunted industrial growth, Ayede Poly rector proffers solution
The rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Ayede, Ogbomoso, Dr. Engr. Taofeeq Adekunle Abdulhameed, has declared for the umpteenth time that until Nigeria goes back to vocational and technical education, the country will perpetually lag behind.
Dr. Abdulhameed made this declaration last week at the commissioning of projects cum valedictory service at the Zoe Schools, Irewolede Estate annex, Ogbomoso.
The rector who was guest speaker at the event, delivering a lecture on the topic, “Technical Education in Nigeria: Problems and Prospects,” stated that the Nigerian curriculum on education was endued with adequate technical and vocational education schemes but lamented the country lacks the willpower to implement them and blamed government for being bereft of political will to drive the purpose.
He now affirmed unequivocally that without purposeful drive towards technical and vocational education Nigeria will not be able to swim out of the ocean of stunted industrial growth and development with its attendant problems while noting countries like Singapore, China, Japan and other developed countries owed their status to embracement of technical and vocational skills.
“On the issue of technical and vocational education, we have what is sufficient in our curriculum today, implementation is the problem and until we go back to vocational and technical education, we will still be lagging behind as a nation,” he said matter-of-fact, adding, “Go to Singapore and China and also Japan, you will discover that those who have vocational skills are the ones that are even earning far better, than the so-called academics.”
He emphasized that in countries mentioned those who apply vocational skills are richer than lecturers, “If you are a technician in places like Singapore, Japan, you will be earning far more than a doctorate degree holder, who is a lecturer or even professor.”
The former dean, school of engineering technology, Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun state, avers that Nigeria will continue to be redundant until industries are revived but “those industries cannot be revived unless we have enough technical manpower. So for us to survive as a nation there is need for us to go back to vocational and technical education.”
He debunks the notion that those who possess technical skills but are without university degrees are of little relevance stressing, “Some people would want to think that those who are specialists in vocational education or somebody who goes for skill acquisition is not as sharp and brilliant as somebody who is in possession of master’s degree or PhD or whatever, it is not so.”
He further explains, “The fact of the case is that each individual has one role or the other to play in the scheme of things; university graduates they have their own role to play, polytechnic graduates they have their own role but we are mixing the two together that is the problem we have in this country today.
“if you go to a place like Kenya, other places as well, you discover that even the polytechnic sector can award degrees unlike here where we believe in status, we are so crazy about status, ‘I am a university undergraduate,’ a university undergraduate will want to claim he is superior to a polytechnic undergraduate; a polytechnic teacher will want to feel superior to a polytechnic teacher, it shouldn’t be, everyone of us we are all equally important, it is as simple as that, you can’t tell me that some people in the polytechnic are not more brilliant than some in the university, you cannot tell me that sincerely yours, but it is because of this mentality, status that is taking us to where we are supposed not to be.”
He wants the elevation of certificate as the paramount thing demystified remarking, “Of what benefit is your PhD if you are not making positive contributions to the society? Somebody who is in possession of National Diploma certificate and he is making positive contribution to the society is far better than somebody with PhD without any meaningful contribution, it is because we are worshipping certificate in this part of the world.
“If you go to other climes they are not worshipping certificates, they want to see results, they want to see what you are achieving, they want to see what you are doing, they want to see your contributions, then you will know that technical education is the in-thing and it is what we should pursue vigorously in this country.
“We have been canvassing for that, and until we go back to thorough acquisition of technical and vocational skills, we will not make any headway. Look at it, how many graduates are we producing in this country year in year out, thousands of graduates, where is the employment opportunity? We are just producing them, unemployed and that is why the crime rate is increasing day in day out. It is simply because we don’t prioritize, it is like we don’t know what we are doing, our mentality, our attitude is what is killing us.”
He insists the missing link when told the matter of technical education has been a recurrent topic with no change coming, is implementation and political will.
“The missing link is the process of implementation; the political will is not there. We have that mentality of status, I am more than you, you are not more than me, I am a degree holder, you are HND holder, I am superior whereas everybody has his own role to play.”
He asserts government needs to do more in this direction when again confronted with the question, “You see many chaps coming up with different inventions but that is where it ends, what is the problem and what is the way out?”
His response, “Political will, I have said it, it is political will…government needs to do more. Government needs to identify talents and encourage such talents to do more. If it is funding let them be funded, if it is encouragement, motivation, one way or the other let them be encouraged, let them be motivated, then we will grow.”