By Dennis Agbo
The Catholic Diocese of Enugu has introduced a skills development curriculum in primary education to teach pupils elementary technical courses that will help them build basic skills from the cradle.
Such skills include computer and internet appreciation and operation; Electrical/Solar-Inverter installation; wood work and Alumaco creation; Musical Art; Solution production of soap, paints, etc; Fashion and Designing; Integrated farming and Food processing.
In his homily for the official presentation of St. Joseph School of Basic Skills Development Ugwogo-Nike in Enugu East local government area, on Sunday, the Auxiliary Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Ernest Obodo said that the skills development school will uplift education standard, noting that in other climes, children begin from the cradle to combine learning with practical handcraft.
Obodo said that skills education creates faster employment and generates wealth and prayed to God to use the school to bring glory and upliftment to the people of Ugwogo-Nike community.
“We congratulate Rev. Fr. Michael Okoh for the beautiful school, one of the best in Nigeria, it will now uplift education standard in Ugwogo. In other climes children begin from cradle to learn how to practice handcraft. That will generate employment and wealth creation,” Bishop Obodo said.
Founder of the School and Secretary of Catholic Primary Education Commission in Enugu Diocese, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Michael Okoh said he was motivated into establishing the school because he had been in charge of the management of the mission primary education since 2013 and found a missing gap in children’s education.
According to Rev. Fr. Okoh, “My long time study of primary education shows that there are so many important subjects they do right from primary one, even up to JS3, very good to our children but those subjects are not handled very well. They are just done theoretically and not practical. Because the practical aspect is lacking, the children do not implement that after school or even while at school, that made me to think how we can make it possible so that a child will finish may be primary six , even JS3 and be self employed and become an entrepreneur, so that you don’t begin to look for work anywhere.
“That made me begin to look into those subjects that one can also practically handle such as Basic science and Technology that covers a lot of things that one can practically do such as electrical works and solar installation is also into that and then computer is also technology and it will help our children very well. There is also the prevocational study which is vocational studies, but because our children are not grounded practically they come out and there are a lot of skills related to that such as Fashion and Designing and so many other crafts. You can also talk about cultural and creative arts; music is there, playing of organ, recorders and others.
“So because of that I decided to set up this school so that we can now combine basic education with skills development whereby the basic education system will be going on in basic 1, 2 and 3, children will be learning how to form syllabus and words and when they get to primary four, basic 4 basic 5 and basic 6 they can then be introduced to these various workshops and various skills, from there they can now continue so that before ever they finish JS3 they would have been trained very well in one thing or the other.”
Rev. Fr. Okoh disclosed that the school will employ artisans who would teach the pupils various technical skills in the very practical manner that they are done in the outside society workshops, noting that as a mission school, the cost of education will be subsidized.
“We are going to draw a curriculum and scheme of work for all these workshops, and we can be getting artisans, doing that theoretically, we can be getting artisans who have knowledge and also help us, they will be coming to help the children and train them. Going through the curriculum and the scheme of work, they can now use it with what they already know practically in order to help them out.
“The teacher for Upholstery and Carpentry will be coming maybe once a week, the teacher will come and demonstrate practically and go and other teachers in other departments will be coming like that, so that if one is not good in wood work, he may be good in electrical works. If he is not good there, he may be good in Home Economics or even Fashion and designing or even in integrated farming.”
Delivering a paper on “The Role of Education in Community Development: Celebrating the Selflessness of a Genuine Soul-Blessing of St. Joseph School of Basic Skills Development (SJS) Ugwogo-Nike,” Rev. Fr. Nnaemeka Udeonu said that the school was an unusual but very seriously needed type of novelty in the land, geared towards building the whole person right from the cradle of human formation.
“It offers an unbeatable solution to the serious problem of youth employment. This is a complete master-plan for the re-jigging of a society that is richly blessed but amazingly impoverished on the account the failure of resourcefulness, selflessness and meaningful creativity in leadership,” Udeonu said.
The clergy noted that nothing apart from colossal failure of leadership or absence of vision in the very art of governance would stop the government of the day from and the future from celebrating the Rev. Fr. Okoh model of leadership and tapping from the manifestation of ingenuity.
“Our people, the church and government can never be grateful enough to Rev. Fr, Michael Ndubuisi Okoh for his exemplary altruistic life and massive contributions to the growth of the church and the society,” Rev Fr Udeonu said.
House of Representative member for Enugu East/Isi-Uzo Federal Constituency, Hon. Cornelius Nnaji said that the school came at the right time when there was a lack of jobs for the younger Nigerians.
“The school is good because there are no more jobs, but with a skills school such as this, a foundation for job creation is already made. Rev Fr. Okoh had done a similar thing in Akpoga-Nike because of his passion for education of children and the youths and we thank him for these personal efforts,” Nnaji stated