Obaje, S. E1. & Kadiri, K. O2. 1Computer Engineering Department, Federal Polytechnic, Offa. 2Electrical Engineering Department, Federal Polytechnic, Offa. firstname.lastname@example.org
Technical education is any kind of education which has the main purpose of preparing someone for employment in recognized occupation. The foundation of technical education is based on philosophy which was mainly established for self-employment and self-reliance of the individual(s) who partake in it. Socially, it is observed that the impact of this form of education in the Nigeria economy is not felt at all. By now, Nigeria ought to have been competing favorably with the developed nations of the world technologically. Today it is unfortunate to mention that Nigeria cannot boast of manufacturing a single office pin themselves, and they still import toothpicks and spoons. How could they have achieved this task when the philosophy of technical education is not judiciously followed and implemented? This paper is an extract of an American-Eurasian Journal of Scientific Research authored by Odu Oji Kennedy of Department of Technical and Business Education, Delta State University, Abraka. 2011. The former author extensively bothers on governmental roles and flaws, but in this resume, recommendations and conclusions are targeted towards the primary stakeholders: lectures and students.
Key words: Vocational. Education. Nigeria. Philosophy.
Research questions: Why am I here? What would I be remembered for?
Definitions of technical education are many by different authors in different ways:
- Encyclopædia Britannica in (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010) is the academic and vocational preparation of students for jobs involving applied science and modern technology. It emphasizes the understanding and practical application of basic principles of science and mathematics, rather than the attainment of proficiency in manual skills that is properly the concern of vocational education. Technical education has as its objectives the preparation of graduates for occupations that are classed above the skilled crafts but below the scientific or engineering professions. People so employed are frequently called technicians. Technical education is typically offered in post-high-school curricula that are two years in length, are not designed to lead to a bachelor’s degree, and are offered in a wide variety of institutions, such as technical institutes, junior colleges, vocational schools, and regular colleges and universities.
- Okoro (Okoro, 1999) defined technical education as those experiences whereby an individual learns to carry on successfully any useful occupation. These experiences may be organized and institutionalized or unorganized and haphazard. Simply put, is referred to as a series of controlled and organized experience arranged to prepare a person for socially useful employment. These statements explain that this form of education is prepared to make an individual happy and have a satisfactory living.
Thompson’s view in (Thompson, 2002) says vocational education is aimed at the development of human abilities in terms of knowledge, skills and understanding so efficiently in carrying on the activities in the vocational pursuit of his choice.
- Winer (Winer, 2000) in his contribution opined that vocational education is designed to develop skills, abilities, understanding attitudes, work habits and appreciation encompassing knowledge and information needed by workers to enter and make progress in employment on a useful and productive basis. It is an integral part of the total education programme and contributes towards the development of good citizens by developing their physical, social civic, cultural and economic competencies.
For vocational education to be self-reliant and productive, it needs not be operated in a vacuum. It has to be hooked unto factors that will help learners and all stakeholders in vocational technical education to be practical and not only theoretical in their approach to making vocational technical education meaningful and life-long. These factors according to Ezekiel and Usoroh (Ezekiel, et al 2009 are:
- Enjoyment of self-respect to work;
- Usefulness and culture in vocational education;
- Equality in vocational education;
- Judicious engagement of school dropouts;
- Economics of vocational education;
- Needs of youths and adults;
- Needs of the society; and
- Basic rights of the citizenry.
Philosophical Concepts of Technical Education
Hornby (Hornby, 2000) defines philosophy as “a particular set or system of beliefs resulting from the search for knowledge about life and the universe”. The major philosophy of vocational technical education from National Policy on Education). Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English: London: Oxford University Press. (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004) is to give training and impact the necessary skills to individual who shall be self-reliant economically. There are different opinions by many schools of thought on the philosophy of vocational/technical education, but only one will be considered. A philosophy of vocational/technical education is stated by Prosser (1949) in Odu (Okorie, 2001). The items in the philosophy are:
- For vocational/technical education and training to be effective, the training should be fashioned in the same way, same operations using the same tools and machines in respect of the occupation being prepared.
- Vocational/technical education is effective to the extent that the individual is trained directly and specifically in the thinking and manipulative habits required in the desired occupation.
- The environment in which the trainee is prepared should resemble the environment he must eventually get employed in.
- For every occupation, there is a minimum level of preparation needed in order to enable the trainees obtain and retain employment in that occupation and if the preparation is not attained up to that level, the occupation will neither benefit the trainee nor the society.
Extent of the Implementation of the Philosophical Context of Vocational Technical Education in Nigeria:
Vocational technical education and training is practiced under the following sub-sections:
- Technical colleges
- Colleges of education (technical)
- Polytechnics and
In all the above levels of vocational technical education, it is relevant to note that their philosophies are quite similar, only with a little difference. Therefore, the extent of implementation of their philosophies will be analyzed in whole.
In all levels of vocational technical education and training the philosophy of Prosser that “for vocational/technical education and training to be effective, the training should be fashioned in the same way, same operations using the same tools and machines in respect of the occupation being prepared”, have not been accomplished.
In the school system today, the training received by learners in vocational technical education is quite different from what they will meet after graduation. In schools and colleges, emphasis on skills acquisition which is the hall mark of vocational technical education is an illusion. Vocational technical education teachers now turn the programme into a literary kind of education where only theoretical aspects of vocational education are taught to the detriment of the practical aspects of the lessons. Some students get too tired whenever it is time for practical whereas the practical should be taken more seriously compared to the theories. The over-riding requirement for practical is the ability of the learner to be able to do the job rather than to talk about it only (Odu, 2007). According to Chauhan (Chauhan, 1983), the job and competence of any craftsman are measured by what he can do as against how well he can describe what he can do.
In the Soviet Union, vocational education and training receive much attention of the government, training institutions and industries and as a result, the curriculum, method of training, staffing, equipment are carefully developed to ensure a high standard and appropriate vocational training (Osuala, 2004). Ike (Ike, 2004) revealed that as much as 72 percent of the time allotted to the training of vocational technical students is given to practical training to ensure that the vocational technical graduates perform well on the job. In the United States (Nwaokolo, 2003) and Germany, the emphasis is the same.
The UNESCO mission to Nigeria discovered that vocational training in Nigeria lacks practical orientation and Okorie attributed the poor vocational training in Nigeria to the lack of industrial base; hence much of the vocational training is the theoretical. Even when some student are asked to go for SIWES, there prefer doing it under an umbrella selling scratch cards.
Vocational Technical Education versus General Education:
Vocational Technical education is any kind of education which has the main purpose of preparing someone for employment in recognized occupations. It is education that provides the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for effective employment in specific occupations. Education which is useful to an individual irrespective of his future life vocation is general education. Also general education is received for the general cultural development of the individual and while it may be useful in several occupations, it is not normally an essential part of most occupational preparations.
Both general and vocational education is part of the total education process. A functional vocational education is usually based on a solid foundation of general education. Vocational and general education complements each other. Both are important in the total process of producing an efficient and effective workforce.
The classification of the contents of education into the categories of vocational and general education has led to some authorities and individuals to suggest that vocational education is associated with utility and general education with culture. Individuals who hold to the theory that utility and culture are not antagonistic suggest that the curriculum should consider the proper balance between vocational and general education and this balance may be achieved by the selection of certain subjects, some of which are broadly cultural. The proper balance of these two will contribute to the development of well rounded individual.
The philosophy of technical education in Nigeria is very laudable. The main purpose of the philosophy is to give training and impact the necessary skills to individuals who shall be self-reliant economically. The extent of implementation of this philosophy leaves much to be desired. There are so many challenges facing the implementation of the philosophy in schools, colleges and universities. These are: deficiency in qualified vocational technical teachers, hand tools, machines and materials; poor image and status of vocational technical education, inadequate funding and student preference of general education. However, students active involvement in practicing with the provided tools and manpower will give vocational technical education a facelift philosophically and psychologically.
The following recommendations are made in order to achieve the philosophy of vocational technical education.
- There is a saying that “since I cannot have anything I like, I will now like anything I have” students are therefore advised to take practical classes more serious and judicious use of the available resources.
- Student can also embark on modular training system, which is, selecting one field out of many and becoming expert in that.
- Student should embark on regular joint-self sponsored project work that can lead them to perfection.
- Take the SIWES programme more serious as that will expose them to the industry related to their profession and not be profit minded, remember to labour before pleasure.
- Students should ensure they perform practical themselves rather than waiting to copy reports from fellow students.
- Chauhan, S. S., 1983. Innovation in Teaching, Learning Process. VICAS Publishing House, PVT Ltd, 5 Ansan Road, New Delhi.
- Encyclopædia Britannica., (2010). Technical Education.. Encyclopaedia Britannica Student and Home Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Ezekiel, O. A. and Usoroh, E. B., (2009). Recreating Vocational Education for Self-reliance and Productivity. J. qualitative Education, 5(3): 89-94.
- Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004. National Policy on Education. Lagos: NERDC press.
- Hornby, A. S., (2000). Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English: London: Oxford University Press.
- Ike, C. U., 2004. International Media and New Technologies. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
- Nwaokolo, P. O., 2003. Recent Experiences in Education Alternatives in Africa: The Post-Primary Technology Education Case. Related Thoughts in Vocational Education. The Developing World Experience, pp: 116-128.
- Okoro, O. M., (1999). Principles and Methods of Vocational and Teachers education. Nsukka: University Trust Publishers.
- Okorie, J. U., 2001. Vocational Industrial Education League of Researchers in Nigeria, Bauchi, Nigeria.
- Odu, K. O., 2007. Causes and Control of Wastage in Vocational/ Technical Institutions. J. Educational Research and Policy, 2(4): 35-40.
- Osuala, E. C., 2004. Foundations of Vocational Education. Enugu: Cheston Agency Limited.
- Thompson, J. F., (2002). Foundation of Vocational Education. New York: Prentice-Hall Inc
- Winer, R. K., (2000). Rung by up the Health Career Ladder. American Vocational J., 48(7): 18-27