Chairman, Board for Technical and Vocational Education in Ekiti State, Honourable Kayode Babade, who is also a former commissioner in the ministries of Education and Lands and a former majority leader in the state House of Assembly, speaks to DAPO FALADE on plans for basic, post-basic and technical education in the state.
What do you think is the role of technical education in our national development?
Technical education has a major role to play in national development. In fact, today, all over the world, any nation that does not imbibe technological education is at the rear; such a country cannot be referred to as a developing nation. That is why every nation of the world, including China, South Korea, Singapore, France, USA, UK and Germany are all investing heavily in technical and technological education because without technological education, how can you generate power, manufacture automobile? How can you do electrical installation, transmit information via satellite, television and radio? These are works of technology. Even the phones we are using today are a product of technical education.
Are you sure it’s really the technical know-how that made these countries to be developed? Don’t you think that Nigeria could have been developed if it had strictly implemented some of its educational policies, like the 6-3-3-4 that was abandoned?
We have always had policy somersaults in the educational system of Nigeria. The government that brought in the 6-3-3-4 policy really meant well for the country. When the policy was introduced, a lot of the secondary schools were equipped with various kinds of workshops and tools to operate it, but today none of them is in the schools. The greatest problem was that when they had these tools in the school, there were no teachers and a country that will focus on that kind of a system would have up to five to 10 years training technical teachers who will impart knowledge at the various tiers of the educational system. However, the teachers were not there; the tools were just lying fallow without being put into use and they were later stolen and that was the end of the programme in schools.
What is the condition of the equipment and tools in these technical colleges in the state?
Ekiti State government, by the grace of God, is putting a lot into the Ado Ekiti Technical College. You have technical courses such as ceramics, carpentry and joinery, electrical installation, motor building, ICT, garment-making and shoe-making in the college. There is modern-day equipment to train in these courses at the college.
Also, I’m glad to say that within the next one year, all other technical colleges in the state at Igbara-Odo, Ijero and Otun-Ekiti and Ikole-Ekiti (which though are still in operation, are also upgrading) will enjoy modern and upgraded level of technology that the technical college in Ado-Ekiti is enjoying. We have started upgrading the technical college in Ado-Ekiti. I charge everyone to visit the school and see what Governor Kayode Fayemi has provided for the college.
Do you have all the programmes mentioned above in other technical colleges?
We are building manpower in Carpentry, Ceramics, Concrete and Bricklaying. In fact, the students of Technical College, Ikole-Ekiti are well-known in the block-making industry. They visit various workshops to work for practical experiences and to assist the local bricklayers. We are also building manpower in electrical installation, garment making and automobile body-building. You can take your vehicle to Technical College, Ado-Ekiti and it will be painted in any colour of your choice and if it is to bake, we have an oven for baking cars. We are equally building manpower in catering and plumbing. These are the basic skills that artisans are lacking in the society today. We are building competent artisans and well trained people. Graduating from any of the technical colleges gives you advantages; you will have a certificate in your area of specialisation and another to advance in your educational pursuit.
The country is moving towards the era of what people can do with their hands to put food on their tables; it does not matter the certificate you have. I am appealing to the youths to go and learn a skill at the technical colleges. Do not use B.Sc or master’s degree certificates to ride motorcycle; don’t earn a degree and become a Yahoo boy. Earn a degree and learn a vocation or skill and set up your business.
What plans do you have for teachers who have knowledge in technical education?
These teachers are useful and we thank God for the kind of training they have acquired. Let me use this opportunity to let them know that the board has something in the pipeline for them, but don’t let me let the cat out of the bag. I know and I am sure that the board is working with the appropriate organs of government to bring in more teachers who are well-equipped in vocational knowledge.