Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) has been an integrated part of national development strategies in many countries of the world because of its impact on productivity and economic growth. A nation cannot develop without well-equipped technical and vocational institutions or centres for imparting and training youths and women on practical skills that will yield development in such nation.
According to UNESCO, TVET is all forms and levels of the educational process involving, in addition to general knowledge, the study of technologies and related sciences and the acquisition of practical skills,
know-how, attitudes and understanding relating to occupations in the various sectors of economic and social life.
This definition highlights the importance of the acquisition of practical knowledge, skills and attitudes in any training offered by TVET providers.
TVET is a training and education that relates to a specific trade in which the learner participates and directly develops the society in a particular group of techniques. It is an education that gives individuals the skills to live, learn and work as a productive citizen in a global society. It provides skills, knowledge, attitude and value needed for work place, and prepares learners for career, based on manual and practical activities.
The importance of TVET to human development cannot be over-emphasised. Training and capacity building for both men and women is a key for poverty reduction. Basically, if people lack in technical skills, knowledge and entrepreneurial skills, the natural resources will tend to remain unutilised and underutilised.
TVET offers skills aimed at rural development like farm related skills and knowledge, establishment and sustenance of small and medium enterprises directly related to rural needs and demand. This can go a long way in curbing rural-urban migration in Nigeria, as individuals would have skills to keep them occupied in the rural areas.
TVET also has the potential to curb high rate of unemployment, especially among the youth and women, as it offers the much needed skills to develop the informal sector in Nigeria. Through TVET, individuals are being positioned to develop self-employment, thus reducing pressure on the few available jobs in the formal sector. Meanwhile, a well developed TVET system in Nigeria will offer a chance to those students who are more comfortable with practical and will also be an alternative to those who drop out of the general academic cycle.
In general, TVET gives individuals the skills to live, learn and work as productive citizens in a global society.
The capacity of TVET to realize its potential in Nigeria is, however, limited by a number of factors. These factors include: people’s attitude to vocational training, challenges of developing TVET instructors, how
to keep pace with technological advancement an poor funding of TVET centres, among others.
It has always been a challenge to change the mindset of parents, the community and industries about vocational education and training being second choice to academic education. Most parents want to see their children becoming engineers, doctors, lawyers etc just because they believe that this will give their children better job opportunities. This challenge is vital to development of TVET sector and it is apparently one of the major obstacles to improve the social status of TVET. Key community, professional and industrial leaders should, therefore, engage constantly in TVET, as this will lead to higher performance and productivity of TVET trained graduates and enhance wages and job opportunities.
There are also many challenges for TVET sector in Nigeria in terms of systematic professional development of instructors and teachers. TVET instructors and teachers are posed with problems on how to use new technology and keep up with teaching methods of various vocational education. The assistance of analogical TVET teachers to understand and cope with the new digital generation calls for adequate resource investment.
TVET is also faced with the problem of how to establish technological infrastructure, how to upgrade existing materials and how to train resources available in TVET sector.
Another major constraint that TVET sector faces in Nigeria is inadequate or poor funding. Government’s budget on TVET sector is always limited. This becomes the core issues as to why TVET centres in Nigeria are not able to employ trained trainers or support them in updating and upgrading their skills, and as well purchase most appropriate training facilities, aids and technology for practical on-the-job training.
Meanwhile, TVET system in Nigeria is not demand driven. Attachments and linkages to industry are fragile, poorly planned and inadequately supervised. The sector is characterised by outdated curriculum, a mismatch between skills taught and those demanded by the industries, inadequate quality assurance mechanism, inadequate physical and learning resources and low participation of private sector necessary to bridge the gap of school work.
In order to ensure a TVET system that truly contributes to national development or a system that is demand driven, it will be necessary to create a system that is flexible and have a high rate of participation of all concerned parties. This is necessary since the demand for skills is difficult to predict, as technology develops at an ever-increasing rate, and some skills accordingly become obsolete, and others in more demand.
There is need for increased funding toward TVET sector in Nigeria. The fund should be directed toward research and development, acquisition of appropriate and up-to-date equipment and tools, general maintenance and management of TVET institution.
Equal attention or more attention should be offered to TVET sector in Nigeria as that offered to the general education. More TVET institutions should be established in our rural areas with the emphasis on providing technical and vocational skills to meet the needs of the communities. This will reduce rural – urban migration.
In order that TVET is more market driven, it is necessary for the government to involve private organsiations in the formulation of the curricular and in the certification of skills offered. Government should also encourage organisations to participate in providing on-the-job training by creating incentives for companies.
In this 21st century, Nigeria needs to be more inventive and innovative in a way she can develop solutions to her internal problems, especially unemployment. TVET offers such opportunity.
Allen wrote in from Port Harcourt.