By Rosemary Ogbonnaya
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, has charged Nigerian polytechnics to give industrial training/attachment all the seriousness it deserves, for any meaningful progress to be made on the delivery of their mandates.
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, gave the charge on Wednesday at a 2-day capacity building workshop for public polytechnics, held in Abuja, with the theme: “Improving Skills Development in Nigerian Polytechnics for Economic Growth, Entrepreneurship and Social Inclusion.”
Bogoro said the reason polytechnics offer industrial training is for students to gain practical field knowledge in the industry, adding that students create and develop skills and competencies that they require to operate during the hands-on industrial attachment.
“The student must be monitored and supervised accordingly by their institutions to enable them understand the Work environment, through carefully selected and supervised industrial training programs,” he said.
The TETFund boss, who noted that for Nigerian polytechnics to thrive, they must focus on manpower development for teaching and practicals, said polytechnic lecturers must acquire relevant teaching skills to impart the required industry-tailored knowledge to students.
“Our polytechnics appear to be missing this very important requirement. Without this relevant teaching skills our polytechnics can only turn out graduates with certificates but regrettably, without technical knowledge or skill.
“The acquisition of skills and entrepreneurship development in polytechnics cannot be underestimated because skills are needed in all critical sectors of the economy, technology and non-technology alike. Entrepreneurship on its part is seen as an entire process in which individuals in society pursue opportunities and fulfil needs through innovations.
“We can draw our lessons from the Asian tigers, who have greatly developed their local technology not only for national development but also for export. We cannot afford to continuously and wholly rely on importation of technology for national development, knowing fully well its short comings and deficiencies.
“Our polytechnics must rise to the challenges of a 21st century knowledge economy by reinventing themselves to providing the needed skill gaps for sustainable technological growth. It is because of the gaps in our tertiary education landscape, that the TETFund was established by the Nigerian government to intervene specifically in public universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education across the country,” he said.
Bogoro said TETFund will continue to support workshops of this nature so as to provide avenues that promote the betterment of the education system in Nigeria for the development of the country.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, Prof Idris Bugaje, described the workshop as a wakeup call to every polytechnic to reposition itself for skills development.
Bugaje said the workshop was to address skills training under the National Skills Qualification Framework, NSQF and improve the skills content of technical education in polytechnics.
He decried the low skills content in polytechnics, stating that at National Diploma, ND, and Higher National Diploma, HND, the level of skills content is depreciating.
“This workshop is supposed to address the skills content of technical education and, enhancement of entrepreneurship as delivered in the polytechnics.
“In order words, we know that in the polytechnics our entrepreneurship programme is better than that of the universities, but something is also missing, the training is somewhat conducted haphazardly. Skills content is very low. There is need to look into the NSQF and see how entrepreneurship training in the various entrepreneurship development centres of polytechnics can be conducted under the NSQF.
“The NSQF has different modules; there is need to train students on different modules and give them certification of those modules so that when they graduate, they will have an additional qualification to lean on. In case the ND doesn’t fetch them a job, maybe this qualification can give them an immediate employment,” he said.
He further noted that the workshop was meant to address social inclusion of skills training as skills have become the new global council of labour, making up skilling necessary for every nation to remain competitive.
Bugaje said industrialisation has taken a new dimension including mechatronics, automation and use of artificial intelligence in manufacturing which require specific skills, stressing that Nigerian polytechnics must be reengineered to deliver those skills, else they would end up producing graduates that will be irrelevant to the industry.