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Says it is backward step

By Adesina Wahab

The Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, Prof. Idris Bugaje, has condemned the craze of converting polytechnics to universities, saying such a step is usually taken in ignorance of what the real trend in technical and vocational education is.

He therefore likens such an action as taking a step forward and taking many steps backward. 

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He stated this during a workshop titled ‘Improving skills development in Nigerian Polytechnics for economic growth, entrepreneurship and social inclusion” organised by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, in Lagos.

“While countries like China and Germany are giving priority to technical and vocational education and with China even converting universities to polytechnics because they know that is the future, we are now in the craze of turning our polytechnics to universities here. We are having a dearth of technicians while we are heading for a glut of university graduates.

“There should be paradigm shift. What we need to be able to compete well at global level is to produce manpower that is skilled. We may not need a situation where you will be asking for five credits at General Certificate in Education level or somebody who scores 300 in the UTME.

“If you have people who have the skills, get them in, brush up their talents and you may award them Skill Qualification Certificate. The Indians and Chinese doing welding jobs here, who says they have five credits in GCE?

“From 2023, the NBTE will not accredit any course in any polytechnic if there is no skill training programme on ground. We will not tolerate the running of programmes that are devoid of skills acquisition. Skills are now the currency of labour globally. If you are training somebody on Building Technology, take him to a live construction site to see what is happening,” he said.

Bugaje also said the NBTE would soon come out with its ranking of Polytechnics in the country and charged participants to think outside the box and make great impact on the lives of their students and the nation as a whole.

The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Elias Bogoro, said the focus of polytechnics should be on producing skilled manpower for the country.

“Lecturers must also acquire new skills as you cannot give what you don’t have. Without the relevant teaching skills, our polytechnics would be nothing. Industrial training must be done well and properly monitored,”he said.

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of TETFund, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim Imam, represented by Senator Ganiyu Solomon, said despite the global cash crunch, the fund is still able to discharge its duties and is changing the narrative in the tertiary education sector in Nigeria. 

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