Amidst concern in some quarters that many seafarers are not having the requisite skills to match the certificates they are parading, Acting Rector The Acting Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mpkandiok Ante Mkpandiok has said that maritime training is beyond the acquisition of paper qualifications.
Mkpandiok who doubles as the Registrar of MAN, Oron since the Federal Government is yet to name a substantive rector or an Acting Registrar argued that unlike most training where the acquisition of a certificate is based on academic knowledge, that of the maritime academy is hinged on competence.
His words: “In the maritime education and training, the emphasis is not on paper qualification. That is why they call their own certificate, certificate of competency. In other words, the pertinent question is how competent are you? It is a vocational programme”. The Acting Rector who unfolded his agenda for the premier maritime training institution in an interaction with journalists in Lagos recently also pointed out why MAN, Oron was yet to realise her dream more than three decades after its establishment.
According to him, MAN, Oron lacks basic equipment like the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) simulator, which is indispensable in seafarers training. GMDSS is an internationally agreed-upon set of safety procedures, types of equipment and communication protocols used to increase safety and make it easier to rescue distressed ships, boats and aircraft. GMDSS training is mandatory for all seafarers. He also expressed dismay that the Regional Maritime Academy in Accra, Ghana has gone far than MAN Oron, in terms of training standards with many Nigerians trooping to the former Gold Coast in search of better training facilities and opportunities.
His words: “The Regional Maritime Academy in Accra, Ghana came into existence same time with Oron. Today they can train up to Master Mariners and Chief Engineers. The Academy is suffering. It may not be totally a problem of the management, funding is a major aspect and this is government’s fault. Most of the cadets, after their two years National Diploma in the academy are on the streets. They cannot make progress in their seafaring career because there is no berth on board a ship for them to do their 12 to 18 months training and without that aspect of the training, whatever they did in Oron is wasted and they go back to nursery school.
“This is the reason we are crying of dearth of maritime professionals in the industry because these people cannot go further or how will they qualify as seafarers? “I may not be totally right; it is like doctor who has not done his housemanship qualifying as a professional. You want to have qualified seafarers who have not gone to sea and to tell you, even some of them who are lecturing in the academy have not gone to sea”.