The Development Research and Project Centre (dRPC) sparked robust discussions about the importance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) among education researchers at the first National Education Research and Economic Conference (NEREC) held at NECA House, Agidingbi, Lagos last week.
A panel featured the gains of the centre’s Future Workers project – an intervention which supported about 41 technical colleges in 21 states to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on exam preparations – during the conference.
The panel moderated by this reporter discussed how the project aptly fitted the theme of the conference, “Education and Economic Challenges, Opportunities and Responses in the COVID-19 Era 2020”. Its members, who were mentors from some of the beneficiary technical colleges, shared lessons of the gains and challenges of implementing the project. Dr. Mustapha Kolo, a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri and consultant with the dRPC said the Future Workers’ project enjoyed a $100,000 funding support from the Open Society Foundations, a U.S. based charity founded by George Soros in 1979.
Kolo mentored three schools in Yobe State under the project – namely: Government Science and Technical College, Damaguun; Government Science and Technical College Gujba, and Government Girls’ Science and Technical College Dapchi. He said the project enjoyed the support of the state government which mobilised its schools to participate. Save for the inconvenience of sharing space with other schools because two of the schools had been sacked from their communities in Gujba and Dapchi, Kolo said the programme went well.
On his part, Udochukwu Egwim, who oversaw the project at the Government Technical College, Akpuoga, Enugu East, Enugu, said apart from providing extra lessons for the students, the project addressed emergency repairs badly needed by the school.
He also said a Guidance and Counseling conference organised to conclude the project was a bridge builder between the industry and the students.
“We invited industry experts, government officials and others for the conference. Many of those from the industry said they did not know students with relevant technical and vocational skills existed in Enugu State as they had had to recruit artisans and technicians from other states in the past,” he said.
Also speaking, the dRPC mentor for Government Technical College (GTC) Ikotun Lagos State, Comrade Tunde Abdulrahman said the project addressed the ignorance of the students, many of whom did not know the various career paths they could pursue after their technical education.
He said he had high expectations of a good performance from the school in the 2020 National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) as a result of the four weeks of extra practical classes organised for the students under the project.
Participants at the conference comprising secondary schools teachers and lecturers in tertiary institutions, underscored the need to boost TVET.
Mr Ahamdu Jinadu from Taraba State said the government should equip technical colleges better and provide them with relevant teachers; while Dr. Kayode Jegede of the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) called for Guidance and Counseling units to be made more functional in schools.