Strengthening Information Communication Technology (ICT) in Technical & Vocational Education (TVE) for the Economic devt. of OF Nigeria
Education is considered as both a basic right and as a pre-requisite for achieving the wider social, cultural and economical goals of a country. Information and technology is now an integral part of education that helps to produce skilled work force with creative productivity and flexibility. This paper seeks to examine the role of information technology (ICT) in the technical and vocational education (TVE). It takes a critical look at the role of technical and vocational development and the reality on the ground. This paper recommends an appropriate blend of information and technology (ICT) into technical and vocational education (TVE). This will create the conditions and environment necessary for creativity and innovations essential for moving with an era of ICT knowledge based industries. This will provide the highest value added for the economy.
Information and communication technology (ICT) is an important aspect of education which has numerous benefits. Information and communication technology has transformed education globally, it has an impact on the way we live, work, teach and learn. Technical and vocational education provides/prepares learners with the skill they need to succeed in the work force, in the world that is being transformed by ICT. It becomes imperative that ICT be included in the curriculum of technical and vocational education. The systematic integration of ICT into the curriculum of TVE and other subjects like science will make a difference in improving the teaching and learning process.
Bransford et al (1999) confirmed that ICT can enhance critical thinking, information handling skills, level of conceptualization and problem solving capacity. The transformation agenda of the president Goodluck Jonathan administration is planned between 2011 and 2015. The agenda is to address three major issues which have contributed to the high rate of unemployment, inequality and poverty in the country. These issues are the lack of continuity, consistency and commitment on the part of the government to agreed policies. The transformation agenda is therefore aimed at providing a sense of direction to a set of priority policies and programmes which when implemented would transform the economy of Nigeria to meet the future needs of Nigerians. The transformation agenda calls for a sustained productivity driven growth. This challenge can be tackled with technological ICT literate and critical thinking workforce that is ready to participate fully in the global economy.
The role of Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) in National Development.
In the global set up, countries with poor technical and vocational capacity cannot survive in the increasing competitive world, because the language of the 21st century is the technical language. Technical and vocational education has been known to increase productivity of individual and assist national development in countries like Japan and India. The developed world has reached their status by developing a workforce that is knowledgeable. i.e. they are highly skilled in their profession and also flexible. TVE is the bedrock for development globally. It provides skills, competences and mobility to the labour. TVE plays a crucial role in the modern world today with every changing technology, fierce competition among countries with rising problems. At the second international congress on technical and vocational education held in South Korea (April 1999) this assertion was made; “we have considered the emerging challenges of the 21st century. A century that will be an era of knowledge, information and communication technology has signaled a need for a new human resource development. …”
This goes to show that technical and vocational education is an integral part of national development, as it is practiced in many societies because of its impact on productivity and economic development.
TVE supports basic academic and life skills, facilitates the achievement of professional standard in preparation for industry defined work. TVE provides individuals the skill to live, learn and work as productive citizens in a society. It can be used to stimulate development thereby creating employment opportunities. TVE as a specialized education can be used to produce technicians and technologists that are ready to go into the competitive job market.
The development of a country is measured in terms of physical growth socio-economic improvement and general enhancement in its quality of life. TVE has a major role to play, in any developmental effort because it provides the much needed skilled manpower in various spheres of endeavor. It is TVE that helps engineers, scientists, inventors and administrators to operate by provide the fundamental and basic technological rudiment which acts as a tool for development. Human development has to do with the creating an enabling environment in which people can develop their full potential and live productive lives in accordance with their needs and interests. TVE is linked to human development and its impact on economic growth as well as the development of individuals in the societies. This can and would be achieved if ICT curriculum is incorporated into the learning/teaching process in a country that is faced with many developmental challenges.
Current trends in technical and Vocational (TVE) Development.
Recent trend and policies related to developing human resources in developing countries mainly reflect the impact of globalization. Rapid technological changes now require individuals to learn and re-learn skills that will ensure relevance and effectiveness in the face of globalization. The government of most developing countries has come to realize that they have a weak base for capacity building; this is because most skills developed by workers are acquired over a life time job. Lall and Weiss (2004). This is why most Asian countries are now making concerted effort to upgrade technical and vocational education using information and communication technology. In Nigeria emphasis has been on academic qualification rather than skill acquisition and problem solving activities. There is a wide gap between theoretical curriculum taught in tertiary institution and the practical skill needed by employers of labour. The disconnect between the educational system and labour market has become one of the major challenges facing the Nigerian nation. The competitive skilled force are in desperate short supply today in Nigeria while the dynamics of global labour market has been tilting towards the replacement of physical labour with innovative skills. Wagner k. (2005) points out that ICT biased TVE would have a positive impact on national development and competitiveness.
The international labour organization (ILO) REPORT (200 1) says that the full benefits of ICT cannot be reaped without creating a striking balance in skill acquisition. This implies that ICT is an integral part of TVE and sustainable development is highly dependable on human resources development; when people acquire skills they make themselves more productive. i.e. they produce more within a, specific time and effort. Fagerlind and Saha (1989) concept of human capital suggest that “education and training raises the productivity of workers and rises their earning over their life time” but this is only with people with skilled acquisition who are most likely to benefit from human capital investment than those without skills.
Vocational education and training is an indispensable instrument for improving labour mobility, adaptability and productivity. The return on skilled investment for the society will be a skilled work force that will enable global competitiveness and economic growth and the return on individual will be an improved career path, increased earning power and a better quality of life. The systematic integration of ICT into the curriculum of TVE will mark a difference in improving the teaching/learning process (Anderson and weert 2002). In Malaysia and other South Asian countries ICT is for all students. It is used as a teaching and learning tool, as part of a subject and as a subject itself. The educational system adopted reforms aimed at making educational and vocational education more flexible through the introduction of ICT. These ICT reforms are reflected in the area of structure, curriculum, revision of certificate procedure and management.
The Reality on Ground.
Nigeria as a country is yet to make concerted effort at integrating ICT into the learning/teaching process. Emphasis in Nigeria educational institutes has been on academic qualifications rather that skill acquisition and problem solving activities. Right now the number of secondary schools has outnumbered the number of technical colleges.
Computer studies have not been introduced in all schools. Where it has been, the students are only taught theories. There is a big gap between the teaching/learning processes due to some factors such as infrastructure, management and human resources. Inadequate infrastructure, lack of internet connectivity, hardware and software, high internet tariff remain some of the biggest constraints in schools where computers have been procured, they are installed in he principals’ office and the students do not have access to the computers. The study of computer is still focused on the drill and practice type of learning with no real change in pedagogy. Computer is seen and used as a tutor rather than a tool to engage students in critical and interactive learning.
Factors that affect the integration of ICT in teaching and learning process in schools include;
1) Absence of systematic management support: there is no systematic management support in schools in general and technical and vocational schools.
2) Lack of computers in schools: there is no conscious effort by the government to provide schools with computers. This will make the study of computer very difficult because in a school with very few or no computer, the students will not be taught. We still have graduate and school leavers who cannot operate computer.
3) Lack of integration into curriculum and text: ICT is yet to be integrated into school curriculum because the curriculum has not been reviewed to reflect the use of ICT in the teaching/learning process. In the same vein, the text books in use are not ICT based.
4) Lack of ICT based materials that are truly interactive for both students and teachers to use: providing good ICT based TVE needs more money for practical workshop facilities and also demands industrial attachments for internship.
5) Lack of incentives: those with technical degrees should be highly regarded and paid more because of their field experience in the subject areas.
6) Shortage of ICT trained personnel’s in schools: there should be a conscious effort by the government to train ICT personnels who would in turn train others as it is done in other countries like Asia, America etc.
However the fact that technology is continually changing must be re-emphasized. This is to highlight the importance of flexibility as well as high skills which implies the training and retraining of ICT personnels. The importance of technical education in the country calls for training institutes for TVE instructors who are computer literates, who will in turn impact knowledge and skills to the students.
The 21st century provides an opportunity to develop a work force by appropriately investing in education and training to achieve suitable development to be able to compete globally. The much talked about industrialization will not be possible without the skilled work force that is basically the product of technical and vocational education to man the industries. There is need to create the conditions and environment necessary for creativity and innovations essential for moving with an era of ICT knowledge based industries. This will provide the highest value added for the economy.
There is absolute need to expand and improve knowledge and skills through the use of ICT in the teaching/learning process. To achieve these, the following recommendations are made.
1) ICT should be compulsory in the teaching/learning process. This will make the teaching/learning process interactive and interesting.
2) There should be a master plan for ICT human resources development. The systematic plan for ICT human resources will help to improve the nation’s work force and ensure availability of vocational training for economically challenged youths.
3) ICT should be integrated into the TVE curriculum. ICT has reduced the world to a global village. With ICT one can access any information. IT is imperative that ICT be integrated into TVE so that the nation will move from theoretical type of education to a practical type.
4) Every school should have a well equipped computer laboratory for practical’s and should be connected to the internet. Computer studies are more practical and computer without internet is like going to the farm without farm implements. This will increase the general skill level and quality of skilled labour force.
5) More facilities should be provided and old or obsolete one upgraded. For ICT based technical and vocation education to be accessible by all and sundry, public private partnership has to be achieved. Any nation wishing to increase the number and ratio of skilled workers must embark on several “world of word” oriented projects. This should be done in conjunction with the private sector.
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Lall, S and Weiss, J (2004) Industrial Competitiveness; the challenge for Pakistan ADB institute-Pakistan Resident Mission Paper, ADP Pakistan Resident Mission Islamabad.
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