Vocational education is the acquisition of necessary occupational and technical skills and their application in solving practical problems.
Vocational education is also known as Technical education. It is a major way of equipping people with entrepreneurial skills.
It involves personnel who are technically oriented to be involved in the planning, implementation and teaching of various technical programs geared towards production.
No doubt, vocational education, with necessary support, will go a long way in contributing to the growth of any nation’s economy. Some of its numerous benefits are highlighted below:
1. It equips one with entrepreneurial skills, which, if harnessed properly, can be geared towards massive production that will in turn help in the growth of the nation’s economy.
2. It is a major source of income and financial independence for individuals. One who is technically skilled is bound to become self-reliant.
3. Vocational studies are also useful in the science and engineering fields. It involves the application of scientific knowledge to solve basic problems and ease man’s living. Because of this, there is provision of huge manpower to industries.
4. Vocational education provides individuals with employment and a good means of living. The implication of this will be reduction in crime rate. Joblessness is one of the factors that encourage criminal activities. Vocational education addresses this issue to a large extent.
5. Another benefit is that no society can simply do without vocational education. It contributions include areas such as building, woodwork, metalwork, automobile, electrical/electronic etc. technologies. It is impossible to do away with the carpenters, electricians, bricklayers, welders, auto mechanics etc.
The reasons highlighted above, with several others, should spur each nation to the development of vocational education. Its relevance and contributions cannot be overemphasized.
However, in Nigeria, vocational education has not completely found its foot and this is only evidence that there are some things that have gone wrong and which need to be corrected. Some of the challenges of technical education development in Nigeria are explained below:
1. The perception of the society
The general perception of the society towards vocational education is not encouraging at all. Nigerians attach greater importance to literary education and that is why University education seen as prestigious at the expense of vocational education.
It is generally seen as meant for poor individuals in the society, street thugs, school drop outs, illiterates and even physically challenged people. This discourages youths who have genuine interest in it thereby robbing the nation of development.
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2. Nonchalance of Lawmakers and the Executive
Government has been able to do very little to advance vocational training because it is not seen as a priority in the nation’s development.
Therefore, the necessary support has not been granted. Even when policies and laws are made to encourage vocational education, they are only done with the aim of scoring cheap political points. Therefore, laws and policies formed lack proper implementation.
3. Inadequate Funding
The education sector generally is underfunded and the technical aspect is grossly underfunded. Even though the government might have great ideas on how to develop vocational education, lack of enough funds hinders its development.
By not providing enough funds for vocational programmes to go on smoothly, the government contributes to its gradual death.
4. Inadequate Facilities
Since the funding is not adequate, what follows is that standard facilities for the development of vocational education will be lacking.
Government is the major investor into this sector and most public vocational schools seriously lack facilities such as workshop equipment.
Even in places where there are facilities, they are not enough and are mostly in poor conditions, a sign of bad maintenance.
5. Lack of Teaching Materials and Learning Aids
Apart from the fact that basic facilities are lacking, there is also a lack of teaching materials especially textbooks to aid the learning of students.
This lack of materials will make the teachers unable to do their jobs effectively. This will in turn lead to students getting inadequate knowledge because they lack crucial information.
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6. Lack of Qualified and Properly Trained Instructors
Teaching is generally considered less prestigious in Nigeria. Teaching courses in vocational education is even worse. Nigeria lacks enough teachers to handle vocational education in schools and training centres.
Many of the current teachers also lack proper qualification. Bad conditions of service for instructors also means most of them are likely to move away from technical education to other areas where better pay and support are guaranteed
7. Lack of Private Investors
It has been mentioned that government is the major investor in vocational educator. It is however obvious that they cannot be done alone. Without the involvement of private investors and corporate organisations, we will continue to leave the vast potential of vocational training untapped.
8. Slow Pace of Technological Growth
Compared with developed nations, Nigeria has recorded slow growth in the area of science and technological innovation and growth.
Useful technological advancements that are already the norm in other countries are still luxury in Nigeria. Vocational education rests on science and technology and since scientific innovations are not incorporated in the curriculum, we produce vocational education graduates who are not able to function up to the world’s standards.
9. Curriculum Development
Technical education is supposed to provide learners with practical knowledge. However, what obtains in Nigeria vocational curricula is a focus on academic knowledge at the expense of the more important knowledge from the engineering and technological fields.
10. Nonchalance of the Lawmakers and Executive
Policies and laws made to improve vocational education are not effective enough because of poor implementation from the executives.
1. Government should embark on massive sensitisation of the public on the potentials of Vocational Education in Nigeria.
2. Government should also provide incentives to encourage youths to get technical training. Incentives such as small loans for business setup upon graduation should be provided.
3. Adequate budgeting should also be made for vocational education so there will be enough funds to provide standard education.
4. Funds provided should also be properly monitored and accounted for. This will prevent workers from enriching themselves with money that is supposed to be used for development.
5. Standard facilities should be provided. Sub-standard facilities need to be done away with so that learners can access quality education.
6. Instructional Materials and learning aids suitable for use in the Nigerian society should be provided. This includes textbooks especially.
7. Instructors and teachers of vocational education should be properly trained and should also have vast experience so as to be able to teach students well.
8. Private investors and corporate organisations need to be involved too by partnering with the government to provide basic facilities and learning aids for students. Private investors can even build more schools and training centres for vocational education.
9. Government should do their part in encouraging investors, especially those who want to build new schools and vocational training centres. Heavy taxes should not be imposed as this will drive them away.
10. Nigeria needs to start conforming with scientific innovations around the world. The science and technology sector needs all the support it can get as this will help technical education greatly.
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11. Curricula for vocational education should be made by seasoned professionals with wide experience. Also, curricula development should also include more practical training as this is supposed to be the focus of technical education. However, the academic aspect is also important and should not be done away with.
12. Laws and policies should be made to advance vocational education in Nigeria. Also, existing laws and policies should be properly implemented by relevant bodies.
Vocational education in Nigeria is an untapped goldmine. If the government is able to adopt suggested solutions to its numerous problems, then there will be positive changes.Click here to see the latest Jobs opportunities in Nigeria.
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