Prof. Idris Bugaje, the Executive Secretary, National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), has commended President Bola Tinubu for making Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) as the fourth pillar in the policy document of his administration.
He said that this was a reflection of Tinubu’s commitment to transform technical education for national development.
Bugaje, who spoke in an interview in Abuja said that this gesture would also grow the number of technical colleges in the country.
According to him, almost 60 per cent of the population is youthful and one of the highest in the world.
According to the executive secretary, there is the need for the country to reposition TVET so that the youths can be empowered.
Bugaje said: “We commend President Bola Tinubu for efforts to transform Nigeria.
“He has made TVET training his fourth pillar and this the the first time TVET is featuring as a pillar in the policy document of any government.
“So, we are very hopeful that he is going to reposition technical education because we must grow the number of technical colleges in Nigeria from the present number of 126 out of over 15,000 senior secondary schools.
“Our technical colleges are the ones to feed the polytechnics. It is the absence of products from technical colleges that leads to the low number of technicians.”
While also appealing to the president to adequately fund technical education, Bugaje said that infrastructure in technical education were already dilapidating, hence the need to revive the sector.
“When you enter the hall they do practical’s in technical schools, it is either the roof is leaking, the machines there are obsolete or the materials used for practical’s are not available.
“The principal in such a school is a graduate of sociology, the instructors have no experience and so they are not delivering.
“There is need for a marshal plan for technical education in Nigeria. We have to declare not only state of emergency which is easy to do.
” But let us also have marshal plan for technical education so that we can reinvent the colleges, retrain the teachers and instructors and bring new equipment.
“Buy state-of-art equipment in welding- underwater welding and train the people and give them proper certification so that can have jobs across industries. So funding is fundamental,” he said.
The executive secretary stressed the need to bring the informal skills sector into TVET training program so as to discourage the importation of skilled manpower.
Bugaje said: “If we don’t produce the skills ourselves, we loose a lot from other countries.
“We need to reposition our polytechnics and to do this, we must bring in the informal skills sector into our training programs.
” Look at Apo mechanic village in Abuja, the Ariaria market in Aba, Computer Village in Lagos, Panteka in Kaduna and see the wonderful things they are doing there.
“In Panteka, there are about 38,000 enterprises, they don’t have any certification and there is no quality assurance.”
According to him, the board is now asking polytechnics to engage them to give them skills qualification training and certificate for the skills they have.
Bugaje added: “So, that if the private sector is looking for skills qualification they will go there and recruit certified welders and fabricators and certified pipe fitters.
“So, that is why we need to mobilize resources so that TVET can lead to the real industrialization of Nigeria.”
He said that if the government concentrated on the informal skills sector, train the technicians and craftsmen, Nigeria would be able to feed not only her industries but also industries from other countries of the world.
Bugaje, while calling for the creation of more polytechnics to deliver the skills needed for the overall development of the country, also suggested the conversation of some universities that were not performing into polytechnics.
“Some states have two to three federal universities but in reality, for every university graduates of HND from the polytechnic, so we are doing the reverse.
“At the moment, Nigeria imports skilled manpower to deliver the dangote refinery and if we don’t produce the skills ourselves, we lose a lot from other countries.
“We need to reposition our polytechnics and there is the need to also bring in the informal skills sector into our training programs,” he said.