There has been a lot of discussions on the urgent need to engage our schools from primary to secondary on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) which connects education and the world of work, providing life skills for sustainable development. TVET aims to address economic, social and environmental demands by helping youth and adults develop the skills they need for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. In this way, TVET promotes equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and supports transitions to green and digital economies.

Since the Third International Congress on TVET in Shanghai 2012, TVET has been gathering momentum and global attention. This increased with the adoption of the Education 2030 Agenda which devotes considerable attention to technical and vocational skills development with specific targets related to access, acquisition of relevant learning outcomes and elimination of gender disparity.

In alignment with SDG4 and the Education 2030 Framework for Action, UNESCO has developed a Recommendation and a Strategy for TVET (2016-2021) to support the efforts of Member States, (which Nigeria is one of them) and to boost the relevance of their TVET systems. How dedicated are we on this agenda?

The UNEVOC Network is the key driver for mutual learning, capacity-building and advancing international cooperation in TVET. As well as UNESCO and its networks, the Members of the Inter-Agency Group on TVET are conducting collective initiatives and joint work to unleash the potential of TVET to meet skills needs of individuals, enterprises and societies.

In 2016, Professor Reko Okoye and Maxwell Onyenwe Arimonu of the  Department of Vocational Education, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa, Nigeria, in their paper, titled  Technical and Vocational Education in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and a Way Forward, emphasised that technical education, as enshrined in the Nigerian national policy on education, is concerned with qualitative technological human resources development directed towards a national pool of skilled and self-reliant craftsmen, technicians and technologists in technical and vocational education fields. In Nigeria, the training of technical personnel has witnessed many challenges ranging from policies which have no bearing with our problems, curriculum that has little or no relationship with workplace and social needs, embezzlement of funds meant for education development purposes, lack of teacher motivation, inadequate facilities, inadequate funding, brain drain, poor staff training, bribery and corruption.

Science, the practical kind, used to be a huge part of the culture in Nigerian primary and secondary schools. There used to be a club that encouraged students to compete and excel in STEM disciplines. The JETS club, it was called. Some of you remember it. JETS stood for “Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientists”. What information I could find on the internet about it suggests that the club was founded in 1982 by Professor Okebukola.

MySchoolArena is of the opinion that learning should be based on hands-on experiments and activities, because we learn better by doing things than we do by receiving information. There is an urgent need to overhaul the educational system in Nigeria. Investment in Vocational and technical Education and Skill training must be made a priority and given the attention it deserves since no country can favourably compete in the emerging global market place with poor and unskilled labour. The Nigerian law makers, stakeholders in the education sector need to learn from the international experience as we struggle to establish a more responsive Technical Vocational Education (TVE) system so as to meet the ever evolving demands of Nigerians towards our technological development. Our government must look inwards to leverage on existing institutions who are committed to providing life and work skills to Nigerian Youths such as: WAAW Foundation, Institute for Industrial Technology (IIT), Wavecrest College of Hospitality, just to mention but a few.

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