By Emmanuel Edukugho
Vocational and technical Education (VTE) has been identified as an important segment in the education and training system of many countries around the world, helping to develop a professionally skilled workforce vital to the economic and social progress of nations.
It is against this background that the School of Vocational and Technical Educational, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED), Oto/Ijanikin, Lagos, hosted the 1st International Conference, tagged â€œVOTEC 2009â€ with the theme: Transforming VTE for Sustainable National Development in the Developing and Developed Economies.
The sub-themes were: â€œChanging the VTE Curriculum for Sustainable Youth Empowerment and Capacity Building; Financial Issues and Infrastructural/Development Relating to VTE; ICT Language Communication and VTE; Entrepreneurship and VTE; Leadership, Governance and VTE; Public Private Partnership in VTE Development, and Pedagogical Issues in VTE. Several experts and scholars presented papers accordingly, on these sub-themes.
Mr. Olalekan Wasiu Bashorun, Dean, School of Vocational and Technical Education, AOCOED, said in his opening address at the conference, that to remain relevant to the globalised world we will need to ensure that our education system in particular VTE, s able to keep pace with changes in the world. We will need to prepare our students so that they are aware of the developments worldwide.
â€œWe must nurture in them an outward looking global mindset. We must equip them with skills that are needed by the new world. At the same time, we must equip with the ability to interact and work with people from diverse cultural and social background.â€
It was noted that VTE providers worldwide are seizing opportunities that are transforming their teaching and learning environments. The demand is for VTE to be more â€œoutcome-based.â€ Students are trained to be practical problem-solvers, critical thinkers and creative innovators. In other words, what they learn can be immediately applied to their daily lives or the workplace.
â€œI understand that in the US, the VTE system has taken on a bold repositioning as â€œCareer Technical Education, where the VTE students from Community Colleges learn transferable employability skills. This is to enhance their ability to compete in the global economy.â€
On Transforming Vocational and Technical Education in Nigeria, Bashorun said that Nigeriaâ€™s VTE system has developed in tandem with the nationâ€™s economic changes and manpower needs. In the post-independence period in the 1960s and 1970s, Nigeria went through rapid industrialisation to create jobs for people. Our VTE system was then focussed on the development of basic skills, mainly for the manufacturing industry. In the 1980s, when Nigeria restructured its economy to focus on capital and technologically intensive industries, our VTE system responded by offering training in more advanced skills.
â€œToday, we have an education system that provides at least 10 years of general education for all our children. Close to 90 per cent of each cohorts proceed to post-secondary institutions like universities, colleges of education, polytechnics and the technical colleges. Our key institutions that provides VTE, namely the colleges of education and our polytechnics, enrol over 60 per cent of the annual school cohort. Together, they equip; the majority of secondary school leavers with skills they need to enter the workforce.â€
Professor Kazeem Salami, Head, Department of Industrial and Technology Education, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, gave the keynote address titled: â€œStrategising VTE for Sustainable National Development in the Developing and Developed Economies.â€
He traced the historic development of vocational education during the 20th century and evaluated the views of various educators in an attempt to inform current reasoning on the issue. In this context, technical and vocational education is used as a comprehensive term, referring to those aspects of the educational process involving in additional to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences. It is also the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of economic and social life for self-reliance.
He noted that there is growing recognition that globalization has a social dimension that requires social response. Education and training are components to both the economic and social response to gobalisation.
â€œHowever, education and training cannot alone address this challenge, but should go hand in hand with economic, employment and other policies to establish in an equitable manner, the new knowledge and skills-based society in the global economy.
It has been recognised that in time of continuous economic, social and technology change, skills and knowledge become quickly out-of-date. Therefore, people who have not been able to benefit from formal education and training must be given opportunities to acquire new skills and knowledge that will give them a second chance in life.â€
Salami submitted that a skills-based curriculum with a relevant Vocational/Technical forms often provides the right kind of stimulus for the young person to experience the wider aims of education.
He mentioned the aims of VTE on basic skills teaching to include language (reading, writing, speaking and listening); Numbers (calculation, measurement, graphs and table); manipulative dexterity and co-ordination; problem solving; everyday coping; interpersonal relationship; computer literacy; career option; work and society; economic and political problems, the environmental; and values.
Consequently, technological change is likely to alter the structure of many jobs. Therefore, Vocational Technical Education preparation should provide young people with a range of skills that have adaptability across vocational areas.
As many individuals make one or more major changes in occupation during their working lives, competence over a core of skills common to many occupations will enhance their adaptability,â€ he stated.
Salami recommended among other things, the urgent need for every related public and/or private actors and sectors to make their capacity administratively, intellectually, politically and economically more functional in every aspect of VTE possible. there is a need for more effective and consistent national or international policies and implementations. Establishing strong infrastructures in order to get everyone take vocational education with no gender bias.
There must be a co-operation and co-ordination between governments, employers, trade bodies, private and public institutions, professional bodies so as to develop VTE that is directly proportional to global competitiveness power.
He concluded by saying that the significance of VTE in national development has been recognised and that no nation has every developed without the development of its VTE.
â€œGiven the immense scientific, technological and socio-economic development, either in progress or envisaged, which characterised the present era, particularly globalisation and the revolution in information and communication technology, vocational and technical education must be a vital aspect of the educational process in all counties, developed or developing,â€, Salami summed up.