The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof Mohammed Sani Haruna, yesterday asked the Federal Government to overhaul and redesign the curriculum of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF)
He argued that the country cannot continue to produce engineering, science and technology graduates without adequate hands-on.
He said that the nation can catch up with the rest of the world if it returns to prioritization of crafts, technical and vocational schools and education.
Haruna said that Nigerians are outsourcing occupational specialization from Togo, Cameroon, even Niger and other West African states because schools do not pay attention to skills acquisition.
The NASENI boss made the submissions in a keynote speech at the Annual General Meeting of the Relevant Technology Old Students’ Association (RETOSA) in Jos.
His words: “I hereby recommend the overhaul and redesign of the curriculum of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to adopt the model and method of the Relevant Technology for a truly practically oriented workforce.
“In reality, the current ITF is adding nothing to skill acquisition. I also call on the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to integrate Relevant Technology System in the syllabus of monotechnics and polytechnics as well as the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF).”
Haruna said that it was time for the nation to produce science and engineering graduates who would be practical oriented.
He said: “The departure from this noble and effective capacity building method is the reason we have an incompetent workforce in our building and construction sector, industries and even ministries responsible for service provision.
“The half-baked graduates who had no adequate hands-on were no longer ‘hot caked.’
“The instructors and teachers were no longer sponsored overseas for further training to update their knowledge. The long synergy and collaboration with private sector soon disappeared.
“The consequence is that artisan job in Nigeria will continue to be dominated by workers with the occupational specialization from Togo, Cameroon, even Niger and other West African states.”
He pointed out that no nation can develop without technology.
He recommended a return to crafts, technical and vocational schools and education to launch Nigeria into technological age.
He added: “The only remedy is return of prioritization of crafts, technical and vocational schools and education. A famous saying of my friend and a senior professional colleague, Prof Idris Bugaje, the executive secretary of National Board for Technical Education is that: ‘Skills and not degrees that matter.’
“Technology for National Development is a tripod constituted by craftsmen/artisans or technicians who are the foundation of a pyramid human resources for industrial development.
“The second leg of the tripod is the technologist/scientific officer. They are the pillars of the pyramid. At the apex of that pyramid are the Engineers who are the third leg of the tripod theory.
“Absence of any of this class in any nation is a recipe for sustaining consumer-oriented economy. China is now converting several universities to polytechnic universities so that diplomas and certificates with hands-on are the order of the day.
“The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) skill development centres across the country approved by President Muhammadu Buhari are structured to apply original model of Relevant Technology – modified and updated to meet current realities.”