Capacity building is lacking in our workforce; We need to revisit technical education - Akin Oluwadare Jnr - THE NEW DAWN ONLINE

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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Capacity building is lacking in our workforce; We need to revisit technical education - Akin Oluwadare Jnr



I come from a country of the learned. We value education and will go to any length to acquire academic qualification. Even in the face of the odds, my fellow countrymen and women are resilient. We defy the odds to excel in all academic pursuit even under the most difficult circumstances. I celebrate the Nigerian spirit. I celebrate excellence because excellence begets success. My message here is to Nigeria, my country. 

Nigerians beat academic records and set new ones across the shores. We are record breakers with insatiable quest for knowledge. Why is our depth of knowledge not translating to development? This is a question that you and I would have to answer. If we find the answer, perhaps we could remind our policy makers, that education is not an end in itself, it is supposed to be a means to an end.

If education is about research and development, then we must have focused on the research part while we ignored the development part of education that focuses on the practicality and application of the knowledge that is acquired. We lost it and we don’t even seem to realise it. 

Consciously or unconsciously, we killed technical education and edified university education in a manner that made others feel inadequate. We discriminated against polytechnic education that is reputed to be more inclined to practicality. Jointly, we created a society that celebrates academic qualifications more than the greatest invention of all ages.

What happened to technical schools in Nigeria? If my memory serves me right, the reason for changing our school system to 6-3-3-4 (6 years for primary, 3 years for junior secondary, 3 years for senior secondary and 4 years for tertiary) was to afford junior secondary school leavers the opportunity to veer off to technical education and choose a vocation for themselves if they so desire. What happened to that dream?

Today, we have on our hands graduates with the best class of degrees and countless professional qualifications who cannot create jobs. They speak the best of English grammar to explain the theories with zero knowledge of its application. Even the not too academically strong students spend a lifetime seeking admission to the university to answer to the dictates of the society. We revel in the joy of paper qualification so far it makes us a knowledgeable class of the black race. 

Employers of labour raise the bar of minimum qualification for job seekers daily in a saturated labour market with limited opportunities. Still, the federal government is giving license to establish more universities with no mention of technical education. If only we know that a literate informal sector has a role to play in economic and industrial development, then we will strike a balance between paper qualification and capacity building. 

The middle class has been systematically eroded in Nigeria. Maybe because we have more knowledgeable people but knowledge does not create wealth, application of knowledge does. As long as we continue to focus more on paper qualification than the skill set required for job creation, may we not get to that point when we have the streets flooded with first class graduates who may be at the mercy of their artisan friends who are able to create wealth. Maybe it’s even happening already. 

Those who have the ears of our policy makers should tell them that our education should go beyond certificate acquisition to capacity building. Good enough, both certificate and capacity are products of letter ‘C’. Capacity building is lacking in our workforce. We need to revisit technical education. 

©️Akin Oluwadare Jnr. 
12 July 2021 

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