Some stakeholders in tertiary institutions have advised the Federal Government to formulate technology-based policy that will give priority to technical education and skills acquisition rather than on paper qualification.
The stakeholders from universities, polytechnics, research institutes and the private sector made the call in separate interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.
They observed that technology gap had been created by lack of policy to promote technical education and low funding of technical colleges and polytechnics.
Dr Ahmed Mai-Abba in Bauchi, the North East Zonal the Chairman of Manufactures Association of Nigeria (MAN), called for the revival of vocational colleges to serve as avenues for technological breakthroughs.
He observed that graduates of such schools in the past were never idle unlike the current dropouts who roamed the streets with no technical skills.
“I hope government will articulate and enact laws toward recognising, encouraging and developing such talents for the benefit of the country,” he said.
A building engineer in Dutse, Zakari Baderi advised that polytechnics should grant direct admission to students of vocation schools to encourage technological growth of the country.
He suggested that there should be less emphasis on paper qualification, saying that guidance and counseling units in schools should be revived to guide students in taking informed decision on their preferred future careers.
Mr Sulaiman Samaila, the Dean, School of Engineering, Adamawa State Polytechnic, Yola also advised that priority be placed on skills acquisition and de-emphasis paper qualification.
According to him, adequate utilisation of skills will create more wealth and reduce unemployment in the country.
Samaila also called for strengthening of scientific innovations through technology-based education policies.
Other stakeholders were of the opinion that governments should find ways to encourage creativity and innovation in the country’s tertiary institutions through policy formulation.
Dr Fred Bassey, an educationist in Calabar, said that the introduction of technology in basic schools would greatly motivate the young Nigerians to venture into such fields.
“If you look around your neighbourhood, you see very ambitious children trying to invent many things. I believe that if such children are encouraged they will do well technologically.
“Personally, I attended a technical school and I know what I learnt way back in technical college. I know some of my school mates who did not proceed to higher institutions but they are doing very well.
“Some are welders, some are technicians and doing very well in their trades.
“So I advise that there should be a deliberate policy on compulsory technical studies right from nursery, primary schools up to tertiary level,’’ he said.
Bassey, who is a school’s proprietor, described science and technology education as the basis for all knowledge, adding that no nation could advance without technology.
Dr Williams Wodi, a don in Port Harcourt attributed lack of creativity and innovation in universities to poor funding and unstable power supply in the country.
Wodi, a Deputy Registrar, Information at the University of Port Harcourt told NAN that in spite of poor funding and epileptic electricity supply shortage of equipment, students should be encouraged on technical aspects of education.
He said that this would help in the nation’s ability to realise its potential in the technology and science advancement.
“We do not have the capacity and requisite manpower as our universities started on the note of social sciences, liberal education, arts, humanities and education faculties.
“The nation’s universities are currently going into sciences with ratio of 30 to 70 per cent in terms of admission rate which is still poor.
He said that nowadays in Nigeria universities and individuals, conduct research for the sole purpose of acquiring a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or obtaining promotion to professoriate.
“This is wrong because every research should solve a social problem with focus to industry using the research for benefit of larger society and personal gain of the researcher,’’ he said.
Prof. James Momoh, the founder, PJAM Foundation Educational Centre for Technology in Akoko, Edo State called on the Federal Government to institute a national emergency response to technological advancement in Nigeria.
“There is an urgent need for a national emergency response to technological advancement if we want to be out of our economic problems. There is need for us to be technologically independent.
“We have abundant talents here in the country but with no follow up on what some of our local inventors have done. There is a need for government to discover these talents and nurture them.
“Government should look into what junior engineers are doing with the aim of developing them into world class inventions. Other stakeholders should also complement government efforts.’’
Dr Ebimie Tamuno in Baeyelsa said that encouraging creativity and innovation in tertiary institutions, especially universities and polytechnics was a welcome development.
Tamuno, a lecturer in Niger-Delta University (NDU) said that countries with the most intellectual resources achieve the highest rate of economic growth around the world.
He therefore called for adequate educational policies to achieve technological breakthroughs.
Tamuno said that students could be encouraged to get to greater heights if both the state and federal governments create enabling environment through improved infrastructure in schools.
He called for a paradigm shift from general education to integrated entrepreneurship education in the present realities to develop and empower post-graduation opportunities in the society.
Dr Theresa Akande, the Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti, said that proper funding and recognition of polytechnic education were critical to Nigeria’s quest for technological advancement.
Akande echoed the growing call for the polytechnics to be given their pride of place in the country.
“Unless we build up our polytechnics, the country’s quest for technological advancement will remain a mirage.
“This is because it is there you have both the theory and the practical forging a synergy that will give room for technological breakthrough.
“So, the government and the policymakers should place more emphasis on polytechnic education.
“Parity is not the issue. It is giving the polytechnics the deserved recognition, giving them the wherewithal that they need to be able to bring out their latent abilities,’’ he said.
He lauded the directive to Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) to increase the allocation to the polytechnics, saying it would be used judiciously.
Dr Osita Anyaeche, the Head of the Department of Industrial and Production Engineering, Faculty of Technology, University of Ibadan, recommended that the curricular of engineering programme be reviewed significantly.
Anyaeche said that owners of tertiary institutions were not doing enough in terms of encouraging creativity and innovations.
He said that hands-on practical life projects should be encouraged rather than class room lectures, adding that the ratio minimum should be 50 to 50.
“Let the students be involved in hands on practical life project, not just class room work.
“There is no tertiary institution that is not involved in one construction or the other, nobody will develop your country for you,’’ he said.
The don blamed past and present governments for not paying attention to vocational and technical training education in the country.
Mr Abdullahi Mai-Turare, the Center Manager, National Incubation Center, Kano also called for the provision of modern technical equipment at the polytechnics and universities to enhance teaching and learning.
He said that the absence of modern equipment in most of the tertiary institutions including the polytechnics in the country had affected students’ performance in science and technical subjects.
According to him, most of the equipment being used to teach students in the polytechnics and universities were outdated and could not perform the needed functions.
He added that one of the ways to encourage the technical students was to provide them with stipend to enable them concentrate more on their studies.
He also called for the removal of the existing dichotomy between the polytechnic and university graduates, especially in the civil service to encourage more students to embrace science and technical subjects.
“In the polytechnics, students receive more practical lessons than in the university but unfortunately the dichotomy discourages them from going to the Polytechnic,” he said.
Edited by: Grace Yussuf