John T. Akor
Justin I. Nor
Ezekiel U. Saaku
Department of Technical Education,
College of Education, Katsina-Ala, Benue State
Majority of Nigerian youths are idle while some are involved in various vices due to unemployment. A good number of students who have completed their secondary education but failed to secure admission into institutions of higher learning are in a dilemma. This is because they are not equipped with the requisite skills for self or paid employment. For the Nigerian youths who are believed to be the future leaders of the country to be empowered economically, they ought to be well equipped with basic skills to drive the economy. It is on this note that this article seeks to X-ray the role played by Vocational and Technical Education in eradicating social vices like cultism, drug abuse, political thuggery, sexual harassment, obscene dressing through gainful employment.
Thedesign of Nigeria’s educational system is flawed. The neglect of Technical Education is an obstacle to national development. Not everyone needs a university education. In Nigeria technical degrees are regarded as inferior to regular academic degrees, while in advanced nations the reverse is the case. Individuals who posses practical skills with years of field experience are highly regarded. In fact, the worth of every one depends on the person’s skills and knowledge, and not on the stack of academic degrees one has. Nigeria must learn to blend theory and practicals in her education because theory alone cannot serve any useful purpose.
For the youth, it should be understood that, not every individual must obtain a higher education to able him/her to contribute meaningfully to society. Vocational education which is a form of education designed to prepare individuals to acquire practical skills, basic scientific knowledge and attitudes required of craftsmen and technicians at sub professional level (Federal Government of Nigeria, 2004) plays a key role of integrating the youth in the world of work. It therefore becomes imperative that skill acquisition programmes be introduced at all levels of educational training to provide ample opportunities for all individuals to become useful to themselves, the society and the country at large even in the absence of prospects for further educational advancement.
The Meaning and Scope of Vocational and Technical Education
Technical education is that aspect of education which leads to the acquisition of skills as well as basic scientific knowledge. It is a planned programme of courses and learning experiences that begins with exploration of career options, supports basic academic and life skills, and enables achievement of high academic standards, leadership, preparation for industry defined work, and advancement and continuing education (Olaitan, 1986). Vocational Education is a practical instruction that gives learners specific occupational skills. “It is training for a specific vocation in industry or agriculture or trade” (Akoroda, 2002).
Specifically, Vocation and Technical Education gives individuals the skills to learn and become productive citizens and for advancement in the work place. It is obvious that because of the unrelenting changes in the new global economy one may not be relevant in the labour market in future without a certain level of technical skills. The neglect of Vocational and Technical Education in Nigeria leads to the dearth of skilled technical manpower to maintain the nation’s infrastructure and to tackle its developmental challenges.
Social Vices and the Youth
Youth restiveness and social vices have apparently become a threat to the realization of our individual potentials in our communities, that we need concerted efforts to win the battle against them. Our commitment to this effort is portrayed by the radiance on our faces as men and women seeking our country’s future, progress and development (Taiwo, 2009). The youths remain one of the greatest assets any country can posses. Potentially they are the greatest investments for a country’s sustainable development and future. This is why it is universally acknowledged that positive fundamental and meaningful changes across cultural settings are usually engineered, fostered and or shaped by the generation of youths in that society. Therefore any culture or community, that allows a good percentage of her youth to be misdirected, risks her future viability and survival. No doubt, social vices make the youth to be disabled for their expected roles as leaders of tomorrow. The risks involved are too numerous to be taken for granted. It remains a condemnable and unacceptable phenomenon. It therefore becomes necessary to look for ways of bringing this large army of unemployed youths into the mainstream of the society and make them economically and socially viable so that they can become creators of jobs and wealth for themselves and others. Unless this is done, significantly, the consequences may be too great for the communities, society and the nation at large.
Vices are forms of evil, wicked and criminal actions or behaviours in the society (Akpan, 2004). Vices are social problems and have been thought of as social situations that a large number of observers feel are inappropriate and need remedying. They are those acts and conditions that violate societal norms and values such as cultism, drug abuse, political thuggery, obscene dressing, sexual harassment, crime etc.
Causes of Social Vices
One of the cardinal objectives of education as spelt out by the Federal Government of Nigeria (2004) is to inculcate the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of the individual and Nigerian society. Onyije and Ojedapo (2010), identified some causes of social vices among youths/students as; government nonchalant attitudes to education, parental factors, lack of vocational guidance service, peer group influence etc.
Effective teaching and learning is not likely to be achieved when the needed school facilities and equipments are lacking. The non-provision of laboratories, workshops, tools, equipments and materials has greatly hampered the teaching and learning of vocational and technical courses in schools. Students who initially have interest in the courses finally take to other areas and those being trained lack the basic skills to operate.
Parents on the other hand fail to live up to their obligations in the education of their children. According to Truners (2002), the frequency with which students absent themselves from school contribute a lot to their low academic achievement. When parents fail to provide school fees, textbooks, uniforms and other essential materials needed in schools for training their children, it becomes impossible for them to learn. They are either driven out from classes or punished on regular basis which as a result, affects their performance and subsequently their dropping out of school.
Peer group influence is also another factor that is responsible for the youth restiveness in the society. Often times, students influence the decisions of their friends. A saying goes thus “show me your friend, and I will tell you who you are.” When one moves with a thief, he is also regarded as such. Students who show backwardness in academic performance are likely to take to social vices. As they move together, those who are good academically also will tend to forget themselves and before they could understand, the negative side has already taken more than half of their lifestyle.
Ezeji (2001) stated that the value of occupational information in vocational development cannot be overemphasised. Vocational information gained early in schools might reduce unrealistic occupational identifications and rejections made for unsound reasons. Students in junior and senior secondary schools need some form of assistance from trained personnel to give them direction in order to explore themselves and the world of work. Providing these students with vocational guidance and occupational information gives them an opportunity to test their self concept against the reality of a future occupation. It is important to note, however, that not all secondary school graduates will enter the universities.
The Role of Vocational and Technical Education in Eradicating Social Vices
It is not enough to ask the youth to become entrepreneurs and reject social vices or to be patriotic without providing them with skills and financial resources for self-employment (Chaedar 2002). It has vastly been documented that more than 80 percent of Nigerians live on less than one dollar per day (Okeke, 2008). There should be some form of school–work–based learning incorporated in all schools in Nigeria as integral part of national development strategy (Dike, 2006). Empowering the youths with vocational and technical skills would enhance their productivity and national development. Nigeria’s poverty alleviation programmes have been ineffective because of lack of skills training facilities and social services. Giving money to the poor who cannot manage their own lives to set up small business is like pouring water in a bucket with holes (Osuala, 2006). Fagbemi (2004) have noted that revitalization of Vocational and Technical Education is among the ways to improve economic opportunities for the youths.
It cannot be overemphasized that technical education is the engine for economic growth. No nation can fight a war without an army. If social vices are to be completely eradicated among the teeming youths of Nigeria, she must boost her Vocational and Technical Education in both urban and rural areas to prepare a mindset of the youth towards employment. Also, achievement of the right to education requires that young people be given the opportunity necessary for the acquisition of the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values which will enable them lead happy, and productive lives as individuals and discharge their social duties for the betterment of life in the society (FGN, 2004). A good number of students who have completed their secondary education but failed to secure admission into institutions of higher learning are in dilemma. This is because they are not equipped with the requisite skills for self or paid employment. Adetoro (1985) claimed that for the Nigerian youth to be empowered economically they should be given the necessary skill acquisition. Vocational education is a social safety measure to many social problems. Unemployment is a serious social ill, with its numerous remote consequences like hooliganism, unstable homes and other antisocial vices. Vocational and Technical Education helps to eliminate all these through the production of students that are easily employable. The youths/students so produced can become wage earners, thereby becoming more useful and productive citizens who will be assets to the society and not liabilities.
Since youth restiveness has become a major problem in our societies, the form of “chalk and talk” school system is clearly not effective in preparing individuals for the jobs required by modern industries in Nigeria. Government should look towards Vocational and Technical Education as a means of providing the workforce needed in both rural and urban industries. When this is done, the standard of living of Nigerians will improve and will as such, eliminate the evils that would have been perpetuated in the country.
The following suggestions when implemented will go a long way to solve the problem of youth’s restiveness in our society and Nigeria at large:
v The educational curriculum at all levels of education in Nigeria should be restructured with more emphasis and focus on vocational, technical and entrepreneurial skills.
v Individual legislators should establish skill acquisition centres in their constituencies and should assist the graduates of these centres with soft loans to acquire the necessary tools.
v The National Assembly should appropriate more funds for youth skills acquisition institutions such as NDE.
v Anti-social lifestyles of the youth identified in the article as causes of restiveness could be replaced by healthy ones through effective vocational counseling sessions.
v Adequate monetary assistance should be given to the learners to help reduce the incidence of school drop-outs.
v Qualified vocational education instructors should be posted to rural areas for effective implementation of vocational training.
v Youth employment programmes should regularly be created by successful politicians and business tycoons.
v The unemployed youths should go into agriculture and the various stakeholders in the business should be ready to give out loans to facilitate mechanized farming in Nigeria.
v Youth creativeness and entrepreneurial skills should be encouraged by established private organizations and government institutions.
v Government should create a new ministry like Niger-Delta ministry as a national focus where unskilled persons can be gainfully trained.
v Youth trade fair programme (YTFP) should be organized for the youth to showcase their talents to encouraged them to imbibe the culture of skill acquisition.
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