The National Board for Technical Education has called for a compulsory 50 per cent inclusion of skill acquisition in the curriculum for secondary school students.
This, NBTE said, would help the students to have a better understanding of their interests and abilities, and improve them in decision-making, thereby leading to their personal and professional development.
The Executive Secretary, Prof. Idris Bugaje, said this in an interaction with the News Agency of Nigeria on the board’s newly launched top-up programme for Higher National Diploma holders to acquire a Bachelor of Science in their choice course.
Bugaje stressed that enhancing technical education and vocational training for students secondary students would effectively identify talents that could be nurtured into profitable enterprises.
He urged that the country should expose students to skills at their early stage, to foster their development.
“If you go to Germany that operates a dual system, right from basic education, they expose their children to skills and at the secondary school, students spend three days in schools and three days in the industries.
“By the time they are ready for higher education, three-quarters of them go to the polytechnics and less than one quarter only go to the university because they have already been exposed to the training received under the dual system.
”In Nigeria, when students come out from tertiary institutions, they have no jobs because they are not fit for the industries.
“So government must change the direction and insist that 50 per cent of our secondary school leavers should go for skills training in polytechnics, maybe 30 per cent can go to the university and 20 per cent to the College of Education (COE),” he said .
These steps, Bugaje said would enable the government to reposition the polytechnics to have experts to deliver on our projects.
He, however, raised concern over the rate at which the country engaged the services of foreign technicians when it had the expertise to handle the various projects in the country.
“If you look at the Abuja railway track, it was delivered by the Chinese technicians and we should not allow that to continue because this is leading to capital flight and our youths are there unemployed.
“Why not give our own people the job and the good thing about skills training is that within six months you can finish one level and within four years you can cover eight levels.
“That is why we say the days of degrees are over. In the past degrees were important. In the 19th century, polytechnics were the best mode of training, it was after the first world war that universities began centre stage.
“All the innovations we are talking about, most of them never came from the universities, electricity that was discovered in the 19th century was not from the university, inventions were from artisans and craftsmen.
“So let us develop our own, train them to acquire skills because you can have the degree but have no job,” he said.
He stated that the board had already taken steps to unbundle the curriculum to include skills qualification.
Bugaje said that polytechnic students would now be made to learn a skill relating to the course of study before such a student could graduate.
“From this October, we are adding a skill qualification to every curriculum in the NBTE and if you do not acquire the skills qualification you will not graduate.
”We are starting with HND computer science, we have unbundled the course into four. Students will now have to go to Cisco, Microsoft, or any of these big players and get a skills certificate on a particular skill.
“So we call this dual certification and this will create employment for Nigerians and as well provide a market for Nigerian youths.
“Indians are taking advantage of that, Bangladesh which has the same population as Nigeria has 11,500 youths working in different parts of the world. Morocco exports almost half a million youths to the Middle East.
“So we are saying that Nigerians should not be left behind. They must take advantage of the skills and opportunities they have around them,” he said.