Nigeria’s economic duoldrum : Where did we get it wrong ?
By Bode Durojaiye.
In the early 1970s, Nigeria was rated as one of the fifty rich countries in the world because of its promising economic indices, but suddenly the nation’s fortune declined to become one of the poverty-ridden countries in the early 2000s.
The decline is traceable to a number of reasons, but apathy towards technical education in preference for conventional education.
From a growing population of Nigerian students, over seventy-percent opted for the conventional courses in the universities, while less than twenty-percent enrolled for vocational and technical education in the polytechnics.
The preference for conventional courses and neglect of practical skills precipitated massive youth unemployment, growing poverty rate, hopelessness, youth restiveness and very slow national development in Nigeria because graduates with conventional institutions lacked the hands-on skills needed by the world of work.
Technical education undoubtedly is a desirable paradigm for Nigeria’s technological development judging by the experiences of the Koreans and Asian Tigers that transformed their economies from backward states to frontline nations.
This is because this form of education has great prospect for tackling poverty, enhancing employability through skills acquisition, boosting sustainable development, and capable of redressing whatever lingering challenges of paucity of skilled personnel required to manage industries in comatose as a result of aging population .
That is why it is Germaine for both the Federal and State Governments to organise broad-based sensitisation campaigns for the general public on the essence of technical education as a learning option.
This pragmatic measure would fast-track attitudinal change and elicit positive commitments from parents, student, wards and all other stakeholders in the country.
This measure is also expected to correct the negative stereotyping of students on different technical education programmes in the country.
At independence, the then government adopted technical education with zeal and enthusiasm for the purpose of laying a solid foundation for the nation’s technological progress, industrialisation and nation-building.
This pragmatic approach paid off as the graduates from the education sub-sector institutions were employed as engineers, middle-level officers and technicians in a numbers of local manufacturing outlets and multinational corporations across the country.
The late Alaafin of Oyo, Oba ( Dr.) Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111,corroborated this in his lifetime, as he said “for technical education to stimulate employability and promote national development in the country, there is need for policy makers to improve on the level of funding, perception, expertise, policy implementation and curriculum harmonisation”.
Oba Adeyemi who gave the admonition at the official commissioning of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention project, the Technical University, located at kilometer 15 on Ibadan/Lagos express road, noted that technical education is an important skill-oriented education with prospects of stimulating employability and national development.
He lamented that development has been hindered by a number of environmental factors such as funding, expertise, synergy with industry and public perception of technical education.
Said he , ” in a bid to redress the challenges of poverty, unemployment, low technological progress and slow national development caused by apathy towards the education sub-sector, the policymakers pursued several socio-economic programmes, but their performances could not be accomplished.
” Furthermore, poor mainstreaming of technical education within the development process extricates Nigeria from the path of steady technological advancement and true economic independence’’.
Consequently, he said the country expends annually huge sums of money on importation of vital equipment and accessories that ordinarily should be locally manufactured like tractors, lathe, drilling machines, cars, trains and several other industrial equipments from America, India and Europe.
Oba Adeyemi who told the elated gathering that he would opt for technical education if given another opportunity of being born into the country after his might have joined his ancestors, urged the two tiers of governments, and other stakeholders to provide sufficient funding for technical education in their annual budgets, so as to enhance the capacity of technical education programmes to meeting individuals, groups and national aspirations
Conclusively, we must therefore not continue to stress the pursuit of a high growth rate in statistical terms and fail to reduce the social and economic deprivation of a substantial number and group of our people.
We must not absolutely pursue wealth and growth at the expense of inner wellbeing, joy, and satisfaction. The importance of technical education as a change agent for social, economic, technological and national development cannot be under-estimated, as there is a consensus among scholars and professionals that the education sub-sector is the secret behind the technological advancement and economic fortune of several developing nations across the globe .
For the country to meet up with industrialised nations, it must deploy adequate human and material resources into the technical education as a viable education orientation.