TECHNICAL education holds the key to national development. Despite its contributions, the leaders of Nigeria have not given this aspect of education the attention it deserves. This is one of the reasons for this nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s underdevelopment.
Technical education is a planned programme of courses and learning experiences that begins with exploration of career options, supports basic academic and life skills and enables achievement of high academic standards, leadership, preparation for industry defined work and advanced education. Technical education gives individuals the skills to work as a productive citizen in a global society.
The principal aim of technical education is to turn out the skilled manpower needed for industrial and technological development. No meaningful development could be achieved by a nation without sound and qualitative technical education.
While technical education has continued to drive many countries, Nigeria is not paying much attention to this aspect of education. Consequently, the country lacks skilled technicians: brick layers, carpenters, auto mechanics, and electrical/electronic technicians, amongst others.
The hospitals are now a place where people they go and die. Tales abound of how people die during surgeries and out of minor ailments. The half-baked roadside mechanics cause more harm to vehicles when contracted to service the vehicles. The shabby performance of NigeriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s house builders (masons/bricklayers) is no longer news. For that, individuals with important projects now use competent technicians from neighbouring countries. Not to mention the harm poorly trained technicians have caused in the power sector.
NigeriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s epileptic electrical supply is the bottle neck of national development.
Every facet of the economy has been affected by lack of skilled technicians. The financial sector lacks technicians to develop financial software to properly tackle the rising fraudulent activities in the banking sector.
Without security, development is impossible, lacks faith in its police force. The police violate the citizenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s human rights and lacks forensic laboratory and finger print technicians to conduct investigations.
The neglect of technical education is socially and economically injurious because it is robbing the nation of contributions of graduates to national development. It is no longer news that unemployment has sky rocketed. The former Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, recently noted that the poor quality of graduates is worrisome. What is the government doing to arrest the situation? Some have urged youths to be entrepreneurs.
But it is not enough to ask youths to become entrepreneurs, to be patriotic without providing them with skills and financial resources for self-employment.
The design of NigerianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s educational system is flawed. The neglect of technical education is an obstacle to national development. In Nigeria, technical degrees are regarded as inferior to regular academic degrees. But in advanced nations, those with technical degrees are highly regarded. Nigeria must learn to blend theory and practical in her educational system because theories alone cannot serve any useful purpose.
The nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s technical schools should be brought to international standard by employing teachers with field experience in the subject areas and experienced and professional administrators to run technical institutions.
Rhetorics cannot make the country a super power. Speeches on transforming Nigeria into an industrialised nation will remain idle without the application of technical education being a major part of the strategy.
Anybody who thinks that a country which lacks skilled technical manpower and cannot generate electricity for more than four to five hours in a day, unable to fix its roads could be transformed into an industrialised nation in less than 10 years must be living in a different planet. No society can become an industrialised nation without technological capability.
Nigeria can become an economic power house (and realise its vision) only if proper attention is given to education and channel its material and human resources to productive use. The leaders must recognise the relevance of technical education in national development and adopt what works in developed nations.
Thus, without a fundamental shift in thinking and without technological capability, Nigeria will continue to dream of becoming a Ã¢â‚¬Å“great nationÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Ms. ADERONKE ARANSIOLA, a student, wrote from Federal Polytechnic Bida, Niger State.