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RE-ENGINEERING VOCATIONAL TEACHER EDUCATION IN NIGERIA FOR QUALITY SERVICE DELIVERY. By P. A Nwigbo.

RE-ENGINEERING VOCATIONAL TEACHER EDUCATION IN NIGERIA FOR QUALITY SERVICE DELIVERY. By P. A Nwigbo.
  • April 27 2017

(THIS ARTICLE HAS ALREADY BEEN PUBLISHED IN JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES AND RESEARCH. VOL. 6 NO. 1 MARCH 2011)

RE-ENGINEERING VOCATIONAL TEACHER

EDUCATION IN NIGERIA FOR QUALITY

SERVICE DELIVERY

 

P. A. Nwigbo

Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe

Abstract

In Nigeria, as well as elsewhere, emphasis on vocational education will be incomplete if vocational teacher education is left out. The scope of such teacher training encompasses the acquisition of such knowledge, skills and attitudes by the student-teacher as shall be required in the wide world of vocational pursuits. The scope includes also the mastery of professional teaching methodology and any other pedagogical issues. For success in all these, some re-engineering of the present system is certainly called for. Among the challenges facing the re-engineering are the dearth and low-quality of vocational teacher education institutions and the low morale of the vocational teachers produced. It is therefore recommended that a phase-by-phase overhaul of the existing vocational teacher education machinery be conducted, to effect an all-round vocational teacher education re-engineering. Specifically, every university should be compelled to start and efficiently run an independent faculty of Vocational Teacher Education, with academic staff made up of only professional vocational education lecturers. Apart from this, every other element of vocational teacher education should be re-positioned and upgraded as this and only this, will lead to quality service delivery by the vocational teachers. Nigeria will benefit maximally from the contribution.

 

Introduction

Fundamentally, vocational education denotes the preparation of students for entry into or advancement in specific occupations, by giving the students the requisite knowledge, skills and attitudes. Even a casual observer notices at once the great value of this type of education, namely, the smooth transition from school to work. In his period of training, the student has made a definite choice of occupation and has got prepared theoretically and practically for success in this occupation. There is every likelihood of attaining the success, given the adequacy of the training standards. It is no wonder therefore that, at present, Nigeria harps on vocational education, reiterating its importance and apparently encouraging it.

Everywhere in the world, however, no scheme of vocational education is complete if attention is not given to the education of the teachers who will prepare the students for the specific occupations. Vocational teacher education assumes a central position in the system. In Nigeria, VTE (Vocational Teacher Education) exists, but has to be re-engineered to produce higher results. Ofojebe (2007) recommends that teacher competence should be considered in teacher recruitment and subsequent promotions to administrative positions rather than over-reliance on job experience. No teacher, including the vocational teacher, can acquire competence without sufficient teacher education.

 

The Purview of Vocational Teacher Education

Training the prospective teachers of vocational subjects takes place in higher institutions - universities and colleges of education, where the teacher education programmes may be undertaken full-time or part-time. The vocational teacher education consists of exposure to the theoretical and practical aspects of the specific jobs in view, plus general and vocational education theories and practice. A cluster of general studies is usually added.

Vocational Teacher Education involves a multiplicity of jobs, too numerous to mention. Experts have grouped them into five large areas: agriculture, business, fine and applied arts, home economics and industrial/technical occupations, but Ezeagu and Ezema (2004), quoting Osuala (1987), included health occupations. It goes without saying that agricultural occupations include crop farming, poultry farming, animal rearing, fisheries, forestry, agricultural mechanization and wild life management. For its part, business jobs include: sale of goods, book-keeping (accounts), transport, bank services, advertising, insurance, office practice, typewriting, shorthand and computer services. Some of the jobs in the area of fine and applied arts are: drawing, painting, graphics, sculpture and textile design; while home economics mainly comprises home management. catering, hotel services and fashion designing. The area of industrial/technical occupations covers a vast field and the writer lists as follows only a relatively small set of the jobs: woodwork, iron work, electrical installation, plumbing, moulding services, repairs of automobiles, tyres, fridge, generators, clocks, electronic appliances, electrical appliances, industrial parts; mining, quarrying; fabrication of utility objects like earthenware’s, baskets, ropes, toys. Examples of health occupations include nursing, community health work, medical laboratory assistance and hospital sanitation services. Vocational teacher education concentrates on producing competent teachers of all the jobs mentioned above and more. This is achieved primarily by making the student-teachers masters in the performance of the jobs.

VTE also focuses on showing the student-teachers the enormous influence of general and vocational education theories on the teaching of the various jobs to learners. Accordingly, the student-teachers cover the foundations of general education, educational psychology, educational administration and curriculum studies with emphasis on the implications of these on the teaching of vocational jobs. The vocational education theories in particular, enable the student-teachers to acquire special, professional methodology and status that will foster their competency in the teaching of the occupations.

Unfailingly, teaching practice takes place. For VTE, the practice of theory is more important than the theory of practice. This is why, apart from the long period of teaching practice (about three months) by the student-teachers, another period of industrial attachment (about 4 months) is covered by the teachers-in-training. The latter period offers the student-teachers the opportunity to practise the skills of the occupation which they hope to teach. This really implies that while in school the student-teacher, using standard school workshops, engages in the actual performance of the job which he intends to teach. The student-teacher of computer services practises on the computer; that of woodwork (furniture making) practises on a carpenter's bench, with tools, and so on. Thus, it can be seen that the purview of vocational teacher education is very wide indeed.

Components of VTE to re-engineer

    1. Government attitude

In general, the concept of re-engineering presupposes the existence of clogs on the wheels of progress of the system in question. It connotes a stepping up of action, an upliftment of level, a freer flow of operations all resulting in more benefits. In each of these facets, the element of change for the better radiates itself. Re-engineering the VTE in Nigeria, therefore will start with a change of attitude by the federal and state governments in addition to any other stakeholders. The federal government tackles the problem of vocational education in Nigeria in an approach-avoidance manner. On the one hand, it orchestrates the need for giving young people occupational skills for self-reliance; on the other hand, it remains insensitive to providing the enabling machinery for vocational education. Oruche (2010) laments that in the last two decades, successive administrations have remained insensitive to the problems of Nigerian education, with the ugly consequence that Nigerian graduates are no longer marketable both at home and abroad. The general insensitivity by the government affects both general and vocational education.

 

    1.     Paucity of VTE programmes

Re-engineering the VTE must take place in the higher institutions where the teacher education takes place. The number of such institutions is very low: Nigerian universities offering courses in vocational teacher education are very few and far between (21 Out of 109). Raising the manpower that will provide the much needed vocational education, as emphasized by the Government, naturally suffers. Most federal and state colleges of education have schools of vocational and technical education, as this is a requirement by the National Commission for Colleges of Education, but vocational teachers produced in these schools, ideally teach in the junior secondary school. At this level, the N.C.E. teachers handle pre-vocational subjects and not vocational subjects as these are taught at the senior secondary level only.

    1. Quality of programmes

 

The vocational teacher education programmes do require re-"ring. A situation where, for example, five computer sets are ones available for the teaching of computer courses to one hundred students elicits a mixture of ridicule and sympathy. Similar, grotesque conditions can be identified in the VTE curricula, rational quality, student assessment, lecturer qualification, programme funding and infrastructure, to mention just a few.   The f federal accreditation bodies may be appreciated, but it does not forestall the call for re-engineering.

    1.   Lecturers' conditions

The lecturers that provide the VTE, apart from being too few being the most populous country in Africa, do not seem to enjoy some job satisfaction, and this adversely affects their morale and productivity. The salary and fringe-benefit dichotomy between lecturers in federal institutions and their counterparts in state-owned institutions contributes to the disquiet among the deprived academic staff. In addition, some of these lecturers, whether in federal or state owned universities/colleges, have no knowledge of vocational education at all, yet they produce vocational teachers. To heighten ~'~e absurdity, some of the lecturers without vocational education orientation, occupy positions as heads of vocational teacher education programmes. Academic staff re-engineering is certainly called for.

    1.     Students' work experience

Teaching practice and industrial attachment, the two mandatory periods of internship for vocational student-teachers, may be described as a show of shame because of their poor administration, poor facilities, poor supervision and poor results. It has been reported in usually reliable circles that, in some colleges of education, student-teachers pay certain sums of money in lieu of going out to the field for teaching practice or industrial attachment or both. Academic administrators, who post lecturers to schools and industries for student supervision, barely consider the qualifications of the supervisors, with the result that some of the supervisors, need to be supervised themselves. Vocational student-teachers find places of industrial attachment that are virtually incongruous with their fields of study and nobody cares to correct the situation. Surely, teaching practice and industrial attachment should be subjected to re-engineering.

    1.     Deployment of vocational teachers produced

Mention must be made of the difficulties encountered by the vocational teachers produced in our colleges and universities. The most disturbing problem is lack of employment. Admittedly these young men and women can set up small enterprises of their own, from their educational background, but the funds for this may not be available; nor are soft loans accessible. Moreover, the original intention of Government is that the graduates will go into secondary schools and help to produce school leavers who will subsequently move into specific occupations. The turnout of such school leavers across the country means an end to unemployment, even if, in the long run. Unfortunately, neither self-employment nor Government posting to secondary schools conies the way of the vocational teachers produced in our higher institutions. This is yet another area where re-engineering is invited.

Problems of Re-engineering VTE

    1. Capital investment

The truth must be told that increasing the number of universities offering courses in vocational teacher education in order to meet the manpower needs in the vocational education sector, requires high finance. VTE standard workshops and laboratories alone will gulp funds beyond any estimate. Recruitment of qualified academic staff will pose its own hindrance since such staff are by no means easy to find. Needless to say, construction of new lecture rooms will be involved, in this era of high cost of building materials and high labour charges.

    1.     Curriculum review

Setting up special academic task forces to review the existing VTE curricula, ensure the appropriateness of lecturers' qualifications, police the instructional procedures of lecturers including their student assessment and upgrading methods, will not only render the NCCE and NUC redundant, but also tarnish the academic freedom and autonomy of universities and colleges.

    1. T/P and I/T organization

To expose the myriads of anomalies in teaching practice and industrial attachment, the personnel concerned must move round to all the schools and all the industries on frequent inspection. The magnitude of logistic problems may make the entire exercise counterproductive. On their part, lecturers considered unqualified for supervision should be replaced by qualified ones a process not as easy as the suggestion.

    1.     Financial constraint

The problems of low-interest loans to vocational teachers and non-availability of employment for them, face the financial-constraint challenge which has already been discussed above. It has to be remarked, additionally, that many Nigerians are not in any hurry to repay Government loans and this dispels the willingness of the Government to grant the loans. Unemployment faces the additional challenge that the Government economic policies tilt in favour of job creation.

 

Conclusion

Re-engineering vocational teacher education in Nigeria through the various methods suggested in this paper will surely lead t: better service delivery by the vocational teachers produced. To say that Nigeria does not need the re-engineering is to tell a lie. The federal and state governments should listen to the clarion call. Shortage of funds is always a challenge, but prudence in allocation tends to overcome it. Nigeria should get its priorities right. The

march to technological advancement begins with manipulative skills and cottage industries, which vocational education is all about.

Recommendations

Notwithstanding the size of the challenge facing the re-engineering of vocational teacher education in Nigeria, gallant strides must be taken to improve VTE for better service delivery. The challenges are not insurmountable.

    1. Rotational funding

The federal and state governments should wake up from their I regard to VTE and take concrete steps such as increasing the budget allocation to VTE in particular and education in general of funds for VTE could be made as special grants higher institutions each year until all institutions have release returns to the first group, then the second, and in that order, until vocational teacher education in Nigeria reaches an m. The rotation ensures that the financial burden on the government is minimized. There is an urgent need for the match words with action. Preaching tirelessly about the importance of vocational education and its resultant self employment without taking any practical measures to buttress the verbal policies very much shakes   the   confidence   of VTE

stakeholders in the political leadership.

 

    1. Compulsory VTE programmes

Government should compel all the federal and state universities to mount courses in vocational teacher education as done in the federal and state colleges of education. This is for the  purpose of producing enough vocational teachers for the senior secondary and technical schools where the main vocational education is given. In VIE course or sustaining the already existing ones, the illations should pay more attention to the industrial/technical programmes of VTE in order to produce the teachers of Introductory Technology in the JSS and technical occupations in the SSS. In mounting and/or sustaining the VTE courses, the higher institutions are advised to divide the project into

Gradual phases to tally with the gradual release of funds suggested

    1. Flexibility in programme design

To re-engineer VTE programmes, universities and colleges should not fold their aims and wait to swallow hook, line and sinker the curricula am' other issues supplied by the NUC or the NCCE, as if these two bodies are infallible. Writing on the secretarial studies curricula in polytechnics, Okwuanaso & Ademiluyi (2009) recommend that HBTE should allow polytechnics greater flexibility in the design, interpretation and implementation of their curricula. This view, based on the empirical studies carried out by the authors, should apply to NUC and NCCE as well in relation to VTE. While taking care not to lower standards, universities and colleges of education should feel free to drop certain provisions and add new ones to the VTE curricula especially in view of local circumstances. They should attach great importance to periodic VTE programme evaluation, and should give VTE a separate {acuity staffed with only professionals in vocational education.

    1.     No VTE by distance education

The practice of some higher institutions to offer VTE programmes by distance education on part-time basis should stop. Teacher education not requiring standard, immovable workshops could be so offered, and not VTE. Alternative sources of internally generated revenue should be sought by the institutions since it is quite apparent that they are driven by pecuniary motives in mounting such ridiculous programmes. If the universities and colleges are that sure of their standards, they should throw the distance programmes open to NUC and NCCE accreditation.

 

    1.      Rejection of money in place of teaching practice

It is abominable to accept money in lieu of teaching practice and/or industrial attachment. Erring lecturers should be blacklisted by the relevant ministries of education and their institutions reported to the accreditation bodies for urgent withdrawal of accreditation until acceptable remedies are made. Ministries should watch out through a network of intelligence reports.

 

 

    1.     Jobs for VTE ex-students

Vocational teachers who have left the higher institutions after their period of education should receive priority in the offer of teaching appointment by the government to sustain the emphasis on vocational education. It will be necessary for the government to expand the present secondary schools to accommodate vocational education and/or build new, standard vocational schools. Government should, in collaboration with commercial banks, offer low-interest loans to those vocational teachers unable to secure teaching appointments. With such loans they will set up micro/small enterprises of their own. The question of defaulting in the loan repayment can be avoided through the use of capable guarantors for each loan.

 

    1.    Workshops for vocational teachers

Capacity building or upliftment through workshops and seminars in favour of serving vocational teachers cannot be overemphasized. Workshops make participants keep abreast of current trends, needs and developments. This writer dares to suggest that teachers of vocational-education preliminary activities, like arts and crafts in the primary school, should be given periodic workshops to sustain the tempo of their services, among other things. By attending such workshops, many of them might avoid the pitfall reported by Okafor-izunna (2010), that some primary school teachers collect money from their pupils in lieu of arts and crafts, making the children see arts and crafts as odd and undignifying, and encouraging bribery and corruption at an early age in the pupils' lives.

 

 

 

 

References

Ezeagu, S.E. & Ezema, P.N. (2004). Philosophy, objectives, scope, and features of vocational/technical education. In E. O. Paul et al (eds.), Introduction to vocational education. Enugu: Ozybel Publishers.

Ofojebe, W. (2007). Assessment of teacher job management practices of primary school administrators in Aguata education zone, Anambra State. Journal of Educational Studies and Research, 3(1), 47-57.

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