Olaopa Decries Education without Skills, Lauds New FG’s Model

The Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) Prof. Tunji Olaopa yesterday expressed concern over an education system that does not impact learners with skills, lauding  the federal government’s approval of the National Certificate of Education- Bachelor of Education (NCE-B.Ed) certificate model for colleges of education.

According to him, the theory that only universities can produce the needed manpower in the country will lead to a situation of white-collar jobbers, with the result the  national skills disequilibrium that has made Nigeria to rely largely on her neighbours in the sub-region for basic and master artisans, vocational and technical education skills and expertise.

This situation, he said, has in turn made a mess of the many governments’ job creation and poverty reduction programmes.”

He said if was s important that the  nation should confront what he described as the “current national craze for certification that is devoid of skills content.”

He said this is complicated by government discriminatory skills pricing, cadre classification and grading, as well as career progression parameters which increasingly put more weight on the size of certificates rather than what the holders can offer as skill and acumen.

Against this background he said that he fully supports the need to upgrade more Colleges of Education (COEs) to degree-awarding institutions, one that enables a two-step NCE-B.Ed. certification model.

“This of course has strong implications that will demand that COEs reengineer their backend capability readiness through institutional reprofiling of curricula, pedagogy, as well as mobilise for greater investment in staffing.

“Also in infrastructural development, faculty upgrade to build research-reinforced pedagogical capabilities of the COEs’ regular faculty members and the entire workforce”, he said.

Olaopa said he hopes  that in the long-run, the B.Ed. will not subsume and totally eliminate the NCE programme.

According to Olaopa, in today’s world, students and the youth demographic are not only the largest consumer of ICT contents, they are also the leading creators of online contents, many of which are educational in nature.

He said: “In other words, to what extent has open and distance learning leveraged  students’ use of expensive smart phones for learning? How fast are we teachers catching up with the opportunity afforded by social media technologies to connect with the new digital generation students as part of rejigging the learning and teaching processes?

“It is also relevant to ask the question on the extent that the tertiary education research programmes reflect and envision the technology innovation model of the Silicon Valley-higher education connect as found in the Boston axis of the USA, and Bangalore in India.

“And how much of these advances are we taking advantage of for more cost-effective education delivery with less of traditional brick-and-mortal mode, with regard to resolving the problem of the shortage of teachers, examination malpractices, cultism, exorbitant cost of printing and distribution of hard copy textbooks?”

He stressed that the traditional brick-and-mortar academic model cannot keep pace with the nation’s population growth rate and the quantum of candidates seeking admissions.

This, he said, is the reason that digital-rooted open and distance learning and digital pedagogy is no more an alternative, but the way of the future.

“Kudos to the FGN digital economy policy drive which has deepened the frontiers of ICT policy, national broadband plan, local content development in ICT, the national e-government initiatives and the enactment of the cybersecurity law.

“Consequently, the ground has been created for expansion of open and distance learning, teaching, administration, research and development, and the resolution of the chronic issue of teachers’ shortage,” he said.

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