The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has proposed an overhaul of the country’s education curriculum to incorporate technical vocational education and skills training for Nigerian youth.
The hands-on skills training should begin from the crèche or kindergarten till primary and secondary levels of education.
The director general of the ITF, Joseph Ari, who made the proposal in Abuja while briefing reporters on the activities of the Fund said the agency also advocates for a needs-based education system that would be balanced in conception and implementation.
“We are never in short supply of proposals,” Mr Ari said. “But, we are always found wanting in implementation.”
Describing the 6-3-3-4 system of education as “very viable in concept”, the DG said however it derailed in its implementation.
The system, he noted, included apprenticeship scheme that allowed those interested academic research and their hands-on skills acquisition training beneficiaries to function together.
“Sadly, Nigerians work in silos, independent of each other. ITF, NDE (National Directorate of Employment), NAPEP (National Agency for Poverty Eradication Programme) are on their own. There is no synergy. We need to come together and draw from our respective mandates.
“The Federal Ministry of Education must sit together and collaborate with ITF and draw up an educational curriculum that would incorporate technical vocational education and skills training right from the crèche or kindergarten till primary and secondary.
“Seamless synergy among all government agencies, together with the organised private sector is the only direction to go, to equip our people with hands-on trade and skills,” he said.
Paying more premium and attention to paper qualification rather than hands-on education was where the nation got it wrong.
He said the country would not be able to fix the infrastructure or when buildings collapse with paper qualification degrees without hands-on skills.
According to him, gone are the days when hands on were seen as three Ds – dirty, dangerous and dreaded, pointing out that skill is the currency of the 21st century, particularly among developed nations.
On how the education system could be overhauled to suit Nigeria’s perculiar circumstance, Mr Ari said the ITF would prefer a needs-based system in concept and implementation.
He emphasized the need for the country to go back to the drawing board and ensure the concept and implementation of the system are on the same wave length.
On its activities, the ITF DG gave an update on Fund’s achievements and future plans, including a six-year plan he divided into quick wins, medium and long-term goals, which commenced late 2016 to terminate in 2022.
He said the key objectives of the plan was to accelerate the impartation of technical vocational skills to Nigerians; aggressively address service challenges; tackle infrastructural deficits; expand revenue generation as well as other strictures affecting its mandate.
On the progress so far, he said the Fund has almost exceeded expectations by training over 150,000 Nigerians, who are today earning sustainable livelihoods either as paid employees, or entrepreneurs employing others.
To achieve this objective, Mr Ari said the ITF expanded existing skills acquisition programmes and introduced new initiatives.
These include the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP), the Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP); Passion to Profession Programme (P2PP), the Skills Training Empowerment Programme for the Physically Challenged (STEPP-C) and the Construction Skills Empowerment Programme (CONSEP), among others.
He identified the NISDP as the Fund’s flagship technical vocational skills acquisition programme, designed to run twice in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT in 2017.