Celebrating LASPOTECH at 40, Meeting Knowledge-driven 21st Century Demands

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The Lagos State Polytechnic rounded off its 40th anniversary with a management retreat; it provided an opportunity for its stakeholders to reflect on how to better reposition the institution to meet the 21st century demand of knowledge and creativity in the production of quality technical skills. Funmi Ogundare reports

Like many developing countries in Africa, Nigeria is facing a serious unemployment problem coupled with declining standard of living, increasing disparity between the urban and rural regions of the country, and inadequate social and physical infrastructures to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population in the 21st century.

To meet the needs of the growing population, polytechnics sit between labour and the market by ensuring that the workforce has the necessary skills to meet 21st century industry demand, especially in a knowledge-driven economy.

In an effort to ensure that the needed skills are harnessed for the production of youths that are ready for the job market, the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) commemorated its 40th anniversary with series of activities, including community relations programme, seminar/film show on the history of LASPOTECH, 40th anniversary public lecture/exhibition titled ‘Repositioning Education for Technological Development and Food Security’, long service awards to staff, thanksgiving service, among others.

Currently, the polytechnic, formerly known as the Lagos State College of Science and Technology and established with the promulgation of Lagos State Edict No. 1 of 1978 with retroactive effect from June 1, 1977, is developing human capital for the realisation of its transformation to a university.

It has also collaborated with the Commonwealth Association of Polytechnic in Africa (CAPA) in staff training, research and development, as well as membership and support of the African Network of Scientific and Technological Institution (ANSTI).

Aside these, its academic board also approved the commencement of general agriculture for all students, aimed at mobilising them for the realisation of mass production of agricultural produce, poultry and fish farming, as well as encouraging food security and producing food for its communities.

Other achievements include adopting the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) and commencing the process of implementing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for smooth operation of the institution, equipping its bakery with modern facilities for the production of bread, obtaining patent rights for a fuel-less electric power generating set, automatic car jack, and biogas energy system developed in the polytechnic by staff and students.

To round off the programmes, it held the 2019 management retreat with the theme ‘LASPOTECH, 40 Years of Existence: What Next?’, which afforded participants the opportunity to share ideas in an effort to reposition the country’s polytechnics to meet the 21st century demand of knowledge, skills and creativity in the production of quality technical skills, emphasising strong industry validated technical training, entrepreneurship and innovation education.

For five days, the participants, who were the institution’s principal officers, deans of schools and directors of non-academic and service department discussed the way forward for the polytechnic.

Some of the issues brought to the fore by the participants included the need to embrace technology tools, such as coding which is the language of today and the future. They said the use of codes to creatively solve problems and emphasis on the training of students on the development of applications, should be the focus of each polytechnic.

They expressed concern about the absence of a robust, well-modelled and adequately monitored entrepreneurship and vocational education system that offer opportunities for youths to get decent work and jobs, noting that this is a key factor responsible for the massive movement of the youths abroad in search of greener pastures.

In his paper titled ‘Polytechnic in Nigeria: The Next Level’, a former Rector of the polytechnic and the pioneer Executive Secretary, Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB), Chief Olawumi Gasper stressed the need to reposition polytechnics in the country as a one-stop shop entrepreneurship institution for the training of multi-level workforce and apprenticeships, offering diverse qualifications/awards at postgraduate, graduate, diploma, certificate and apprenticeships.

According to him, “the polytechnic of the 21st century must be a post-secondary institution, offering knowledge, skills, creativity and strong in innovation, producing young entrepreneurs to grow start-ups.”

While emphasising on the next level of polytechnics in the country, he called on all stakeholders to embrace the polytechnics as a one-stop shop for technical/vocational trainings, entrepreneurship trainings and innovation to support the formal Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system.

He said the move would produce skills and competences for innovation and creation of new ideas and products in the enterprises from where jobs and future prosperity will derive.

“The new multi-level trainings should emphasise acquisition of knowledge, skills, innovation, preparing the learners at respective levels not only for competence and innovation, but also for higher qualifications in the same institution. The desired qualification will therefore determine entry and exit in the multi-level training institutions.”

Gasper challenged the participants to come up with pathways on how to “de-flood” the streets of Lagos of the youths roaming about for white collar jobs in a situation of high demand for competent technical skills and get them prepared for the economy of the future, adding that it is only by so doing that the polytechnics can lay claim to relevance in the economy.

The Rector, Mr. Samuel Sogunro in his address, highlighted the achievements of the polytechnic in 2018, most notably the hosting of the seventh edition of the International Conference on Infrastructure and Development in Africa (ICIDA), in collaboration with University of Johannesburg, South Africa; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana; and Bells University of Technology, Ota, Nigeria; and obtaining the LASPOTECH 101.9FM Radio Station license from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), already equipped by the state government for operation.

“Various equipment were also fabricated in the School of Engineering, some of which include palm oil processing plant, break wear sensor on automobile, multi-purpose juice extractor, threshing, shelling and cleaning machine, water level controller, electronic c-caution, among others,” he said.

The Chairman, Governing Council, Professor Tajudeen Gbadamosi admonished the participants to commit to technology and adoption of other innovative approaches for the production of the much desired high quality technical skills, entrepreneurship, innovation and competences required to drive industrial transformation and grow start-ups.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Office of Special Adviser, Dr. Shamsideen Allison, reiterated the continuous support of the state government to the polytechnic.

Papers were also presented by the Director of University of Ibadan, School of Business, Professor Nike Osofisan, who spoke on ‘Ensuring Lagos State Polytechnic as a Top Ranking Global Institution’; a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe, on ‘Financial Solvency of Tertiary Institution: Challenges and Solutions’; as well as the Vice-Chancellor, Lagos State University (LASU), Professor Lanre Fagbohun, who spoke on ‘Using Leadership for Growth and Stability in a Tertiary Institution.’