The Principal, Federal Science and Technical College (FSTC), Yaba, Lagos, Dr. Ogochukwu Ufoegbune has called for the redirection of the country’s system of education towards technical and vocational education in order to solve the problem of youth unemployment.
Speaking during the school’s 11th annual speech/prize-giving day and valedictory service recently, she said, “technical education is the way to go because white collar jobs are no longer there; so we need to train children to develop their potential so much so that they are able to get self-employed as soon as they leave school.”
In that regard, Ufoegbune said the school is training students in skills acquisition with 19 technical subjects and 19 workshops, adding that the graduates are better positioned to embrace the future. “Some of them are even ready to take on the world right away to establish businesses -self-employment- the others are ready to further their education.”
She called for more technical and vocational schools in the country, as well as the reorientation of parents to appreciate technical schools; though she said the attitude of parents towards technical education has greatly improved compared to how it was few years ago.
On the challenges confronting the school, the principal said the major challenge is inadequate classroom and hostel accommodation. “The school has a serious need for more hostels and classrooms to enable it accommodate the number of students that we have. We have a very large number of students, perhaps the largest secondary school in Nigeria in terms of student population.”
In her remarks, the Director, Technology and Science Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs. Elizabeth Adedigba restated the federal government’s commitment to the development of Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and announced plans by the government to establish skills centres where youths can be trained in all hands-on trades.
“It is not only in the school setting because we have out of school children, some are above school age. So the government realises this fact and is putting some things in place like skills centres where those out of school children can go and be trained in one form of trade or the other.
“We know that there are centres already both private and public so what the ministry is doing is to harmonise the existing ones and know the gap they are filling and then know where to come in. And the skills centres are going to be in the six geo-political zones of the country. There will be modalities whereby how to station them will be considered,” she said.
Also, considering the dearth of technical teachers, Adedigba said the ministry of education is working on resuscitating the Technical Teachers Training Programme (TTTP), where technical instructors will be trained and sent to the various schools to impart the skills in students. She said a committee is already working on it and about to submit its report.
While admonishing the graduands, the PTA Chairman of the school, Mr. Olisa Anene said as they are moving on to the next phase of their lives, which is higher institution, they should always be prepared to make the right choices because no one will monitor and control them in higher institutions so it is how they decide to live their lives that their lives will be.
He also called for the establishment of more science and technical colleges as a way out of unemployment; to teach students skills so as to become self-employed when they graduate.
“I also encourage parents to try to identify the innate abilities of their children; if they are discovered early, it will help the children to know what to do at an early stage; what they can do effortlessly and feel happy doing. Every human being has a talent and if it is discovered early it will help the child in future.”
Anene also regretted the poor funding of unity schools, saying that parents always come up with ideas and strategies to support the ministry of education and government in providing some of the basic amenities that will help their children to have a good learning environment.