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African Centre for Contemporary Studies

Sustainable Development and the Vocational Curriculum in Institutions of Higher Learning


Professor T.D. Baiyelo

Sustainable Development and the Vocational Curriculum in Institutions of Higher Learning By Professor T.D. Baiyelo If we in our own time can meet our tertiary education needs without any prejudice to future generations meeting theirs, then we can say that the development of such type of education is sustainable. Sustainable development therefore implies a long term perspective about the consequences of today's activities, and global cooperation to reach viable solution. The capacity for countries to adopt, disseminate and maximize rapid technological advances is dependent on adequate system of tertiary education and this can help a developing country progress toward sustainable achievement (Adekola 2004).

The need arises to navigate a mix of issues such as access, equity and quality with those of autonomous governance and professional management. These are challenged by knowledge accumulation and application, information communication technology, market forces and the demand for advanced human capital in the global labour market. This is often at the risk of increased international competi tion for skilled professional and associated brain drain (Adekola 2004).

How can our State and Federal Government help tertiary education? It is by investing in tertiary education through long term research, long term science and technology applications and greater social cohesion crucial for economic development. In these, our governments should act as guide shaping policy framework, providing an enabling environment e.g. support for reforms through programme and framework investments through a mix of re gional and national sharing activities. As Yakubu (2001) has averred, the solution of Nigeria's economic problem depends almost

entirely on the development of science and technology. Objectives of Tertiary Education 1. To provide full time or part time courses of instruction and training in Engineering, other technologies, Applied Science, Business and Management leading to the production of trained manpower. 2. To provide the technical knowledge and skills necessary for agricultural, industrial, commercial and economic development of Nigeria. 3. To train people who can apply scientific knowledge to solving environmental problems for the convenience of man. 4. To give exposure to professional development in the technologies. Government directs that (NPE, 1998:34, 35) to achieve the above aims and objectives; Polytechnic education shall adopt the following strategies (Baiyelo 2001) i. ii. iii. Industrial work experience attachment to existing work places Improving the status and remuneration of polytechnic graduates A broad-based admission policy of technology to business in the ration of 70% to 30%, through JAMB iv. Focusing on single subjects e.g. agriculture, fisheries, forestry, surveying, accounting, nursing, mining and petroleum who objectives and mode of operation are same as in the polytechnics. What is technology?

It is a systematic study of the methods and techniques employed in industry, research, agriculture and commerce. It is defined as the science of industrial arts. Production of intermediate and high level manpower Following the recommendation of Mr. E.R.J. Hussey, Director of Education in 1930, for the production of intermediate and high level personnel in professional areas the Yaba College was

established in 1932. The University college of Ibadan was established in 1948. Subsequently, all the colleges of Arts, Sciences and technologies in Ibadan, Enugu and Zaria were converted to Universities in 1962. A University was also created in Lagos, being the capital of Nigeria (Baiyelo 2001).

Initially, these three colleges prepared students for vocational and technical education at the tertiaiy level. Later 19 polytechnics and 8 colleges of education were created. By 1994 there were 54 polytechnics and 42 universities. ACCESS Although the number of polytechnic outstrips that of universities, the later is more popular. Consequently using the enrolment figures for 1989, there were 72,681 admitted in polytechnics compared to 180,871 in Universities. For 1998, the figures are'216,782 and 411,347 university to polytechnic. Given the figure of 105,817 for Colleges for Education, we have an admission ratio of 56%, 30%, and 14%. This steep regression reflects the apathy that technology and teaching attracts generally among Nigerian youths. This has led to the dilemma that whereas by UNESCO recommendation, six technicians should be produced to every one engineer for a healthy national economic development, the reverse is the case in Nigeria (Munzali 1998}. If according to National Population Commission, twenty-two million Nigerians will be in the University going age in 2010 and only 50% of this becomes eligible for higher education 30% of these by the current trend should be for the polytechnic i.e. 3.3 million. This calls for 15 times the number of existing polytechnic in every Local Government Area. This is the ideal situation in the developed countries of the world where the polytechnic is a beehive of activities of technical and vocational research and development for all small scale and medium scale industries (Ikoku 2000).

One factor militating against Polytechnic education in Nigeria is this negative view about education for workers and labourers and something must be done about it if it is not going to be a hindrance to development. Vocational Training in Higher Education Vocational training is by no means limited to Polytechnics. Medicine, Agriculture, Science and

Technology are subjects studied in Universities. The Federal Government has stepped up vocational training in higher education by creating seven Federal Universities of Technology in Abeokuta, Akure, Bauchi, Minna, Owerri, Yola and Makurdi and Umudike (Munzali 1999; Awe 2000)To what extent would the University environment be conducive for the activities of vocational training? In teaching, a University seeks to (Awe, 2000) 1. Raise the next generation that will be engaged in the development of intellectual pursuits; 2. Encourage the advancement of learning in diverse disciplines 3. Develop high level manpower to meet the needs of the economy 4. Encourage the individual students to develop his talent, abilities and potentials and 5. Study and harness the cultural heritage of the nation for maintenance, adaptation or transformation of local traditions and values.

Taken against the objectives of Polytechnic education the atmosphere seems more diffuse in universities. Never the less vocational training can thrive in both equally. In research, the university seeks to extend the frontiers of knowledge. This is one area where the two systems complement each other. The academic staff of the two systems should be encouraged to work together: the polytechnic is dealing in the context of vocational training/research with a mandate of technology/business activities in ratio 70/30 while the universities often keep sharpened research tools and have more media for disseminating new knowledge. Their own mandate is more relaxed with Science/Art in ratio 60/40. To what extent is mobility encouraged between the two systems?

Some reasons for apparent feelings that polytechnic education is inferior to that of universities are as follows (Baiyelo 2001): 1. Polytechnic admit students with lower entry qualifications 2. Polytechnic graduates are looked down upon at the place of work 3. The reward system sharply discriminates against them 4. Polytechnic graduates are often eager to start all over again inUniversities 5. The traditional disregard for technical education has remained with us 6. Negative attitudes of the general public to manual labour

7. Poor career prospect of polytechnic graduates in the world of work

If there is to be sustainable development most of the vocational courses available in the polytechnic should be available in universities. Bridge courses should be arranged to make up for any deficiencies on the part of polytechnic graduates that may hinder his continuation in University. At present, many Universities simply outlaw the admission of polytechnic graduates from their higher degree programmes and for such this maybe end of the road. This hinders sustainability. For a polytechnic graduate, having got a good grasp of the nounces of a professional practice is now ready to embark on research and exploration if only given the right opportunity for purposeful research in a university. This makes for equity. But with due regard to quality even with the polytechnic, graduates of polytechnic, whether B.Tech or HND should earn the same salary but B.Tech should have more theory as basis for design understanding and creativity. In the long run all in technology, (B.Tech or HND) should be registered by COREN after prescribed due process to practice their various professional bents. SUSTAINABILITY For vocational education to be sustainable there must be linkage with wealth creation and economic growth. If must be holistic, participatory, all inclusive and nobody must be left behind through cooperation and collaborative process with all stakeholders, employers of labour, students, parents association and unions, lecturers and civil society (Adekola 2004). Our governments must focus on helping its tertiary education institutions become more innovative and responsive to the requirements of a global competitive knowledge economy. Government should shape a coherent policy framework. They should provide enabling regulatory environment conducive for private participation in education. Private Universities are now fiftytwo in Nigeria but are these matched in number by private polytechnics? Is government giving any incentive and support to steer these private institutions towards quality, efficiency and equity? Our vocational institutions should become a building block for a dynamic knowledgedriven economy. International Development Partners. Our economy is a sub-set of the global economy hence we cannot afford to be left behind in a

acquiring tools and strategies employed to achieve sustainability since we are only following the footsteps of nations with buoyant economy it behooves us to keep a close link with them. They on their own part are always willing and ready to encourage not only b etter-quality output but innovation and positively responding to meaningful performance-based resource allocation and accountability systems. Companies are expected to make better-quality products more cheaply while constantly producing new goods and services by using advanced science and technology. It is obvious that any sub-economy that isolates itself will stagnate and consequently go into obsolesce. The tertiary institutions are the places where all the trials and experiments take place. Every walk of life needs to adopt the use of information communication technology in aid of its most recent innovations to cut an edge. Regular exchange short-term training programmes, sabbatical leave are needed to upgrade staff in a bold staff development programme. A bold industrial attachment programme is essential for the institutions fits graduates are to fit into job positions with minimum retraining. Regular excursion to industries and visitation to site to reinforce other media facilities for teaching will bring about refreshing ideas and first hand understanding likely to fire creativity. Highly skilled workers can do same thing in a new way a simpler arrangement with cheaper cost implication. The Korean car producers are using e-commerce to produce at 20% less than standard cost. Finland has switched its economy from one which is natural resource-based to one which is high-tech. Within ten years it increased its export of computers and telecommunication products from 7% to 30%. This has implication for the institutions in Finland. Globalization of economics and societies having a tremendous impact on tertiary education through its research, teaching and services influences this process of globalization; via its international dimensions, tertiary education must c ontinue to respond to some of the challenges that globalization imposes on the sector (Adekola 2004). Lifelong Education Lifelong education means learning throughout the life cycle in formal, non-formal and informal environments. Everyone is enjoined to constantly seek to upgrade himself throughout life, from cradle to the grave. This it puts pressure on tertiary institutions and calls for planning that will make this possible. Obviously there is need to plan for preparation for vocational education from

childhood to adulthood. Competition between products in response to changes in relative prices may lead to substitution. Without innovation and technological progress, the scope for substitution may be limited. Science and technology are key drivers for sustainable development, economic growth, wealth creation and social well-being. Our plans for vocational education should subsume a ladder that will encourage free crossing between modes so that we can provide for the full development of each person's potential. Gender factor in vocational education The time-worn idea that some jobs are meant for men has to be discarded. For a long time women shuddered away from engineering. Only now are they beginning to venture into areas not traditional for women (Obebe 2002; Baiyelo 2004) trend should be encouraged for development requires all hands to be on deck. Conclusion We must remember that we do not exist for our own benefit. Our interaction with the society of which we are part is essential. We need to be responsive to the needs of our students and society. We need to network with commerce and industries, policy makers, local communities and the wider society. So as much hope and expectation is placed on tertiary institution now than ever before. We must champion reason and imagination. We should aim beyond perpetuating the life of scholarship for fancy. The nation must be encouraged to depend increasingly on vocational training and education for knowledge, prosperity, health and policy thinking and therefore must be engines of development of people, other institutions, maintaining essential freedom and democracy (Adekola 2004). It must therefore become part of conscience of democratic society and students helped to gain skills not just for working life but also to participate as citizens. We must be ready and willing to share knowledge and information with other professionals to move vocational education agenda forward. References

REFERENCES Adekola Olatunde (2004) Sustainable Development via Tertiary Education. Capacity Building for Tertiary Education in Nigeria Workshop 18lh - 19th May 2004 at Chida International Hotel, Abuja. Awe Olumuyiwa (2000) Restoration of the University System. Essays in Science Education Edited Fasina Occassional publication of Stephen Oluyole Awokoya Foundation for Science Education, Lecture Series, volume 1 Baiyelo T.D. (2001) Nigerian Polytechnic Education System in the 21st Century. Occasional publication of Udogie Ivowi foundation. December 1999 Baiyelo T.D. (2004) Vocational Training for Tertiary Education. Capacity Building for Tertiary Education seminar, African Center for Contemporary Studies Chida International Hotel, Abuja 18th - 19th May 2004 Ikoku Chimere (2000) Science and African Survival in the twenty-first'Century. Essays in Science Education, Edited Fasina, S.O. Awokoya Foundation for Science Education Occassional publication Lecture Series, volume 1. Munzali Jubril (1999) Nigerian University Education in the 21st Century. Occasional publication of Udogie Ivowi Foundation. December 1999 Obebe Bolarinwa (2002) The Future of Nigerian Secondary Education System. Occasional publication of Udogie Ivowi Education Foundation, December 2002 Yakiibu N.A. (2001) Nigerian Polytechnic Education System in the 21il Century. Occasional publication of Udogie Ivowi Educational Foundation, December 2001.


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