STRATEGIES FOR ACHIEVING EFFECTIVE VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN NIGERIA



ABSTRACT
Vocational education is a skill acquisition programme. Every country especially Nigeria needs to recognize and put into practice functional vocational education. Developments of many countries of the world have been traced to the functionality of their vocational/technical education. This paper therefore looks at the strategies for achieving effective vocational education in Iberia. The paper examines the concept of vocational education. Vocational education and general education, problems of vocational education. strategies that could be applied and also make recommendations.


INTRODUCTION
The development of a country depends on her level of manpower development. To achieve this, a country must have to train and retrain her citizens in the area of current technology and also local acquisition of skills in crafts. It is pertinent to note that any country that fails to pay special consideration to vocational education is directly and indirectly failing to achieve technological and technical development, which is the bedrock of development in a country.
The need for skilled worker has been increasing at an accelerated rate while the need for semi-skilled and unskilled workers has declined dramatically. This, therefore, calls for strategies to be employed in other to maximize the potentials available to achieve the desired vocational education. The aim of this paper is to x ray the strategies for achieving effective vocational education for sustainable development in Nigeria.
According to Olaitan, Nwachukwu, Igho, Onyemachi and Ekong (1999) the task of vocational technical education is the transmission of ideas, skills and values of work and environment, and what individual can do with his or her life. According to them, there is the need to transmit cultural related skills. This should take a very vital position since it is obviously foolhardy to put sophisticated imported skills into the head of someone without making sure that the person knows what to do with the skills or has the resources and facilities to implement the skills.
Vocational education has been given various interpretations. These interpretations have created loopholes in the strategic application and achievement of goals it is supposed to achieve. Osuala (1995) sees vocational education as an aspect of education designed to prepare skilled personnel at lower levels of qualifications for one or a group of occupations, trade or jobs. However, whichever way an authority defines vocational education, it is important to note that vocational educational could be received on vocational or a vocational basis depending on the aspiration of the receiver (lkpe 2000). According to him, when vocational subjects are taken for a purpose of a life-long career, it is vocational in nature but when vocational subjects are studied for the purpose of general knowledge and personal wage, it is a vocational in nature.

Concept of Vocational Education
Encyclopedia Americana (International Edition) (1991), stated that the aim of vocational education is to prepare young people and adults for useful occupations, particularly for skilled trade and semi-professional careers. It may also update the knowledge and skills of workers in occupations of this kind. Similarly, the general conference of the united nations educational scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) document (1974) stated that technical and vocational education is used as a comprehensive term referring to those aspects of educational process involving in addition to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences and the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes and understanding, and knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of economic and social life.
According to Ikpe (2000) technical and vocational education            is further understood to be  
a.         part of general education
b.         a means of preparing for an occupational field
c          an aspect of continuing education.
He went further to state that the concept of vocational education describes a phase of total education programmes which emphases theory and practical skills training. It offers instruction in a wide range of trades and occupations and also provides an individual (young or adult) with necessary knowledge and skills to enable him fit into the world of work.

Vocational Education and General Education
For many years now the relationship between vocational education and general education has brought about differences of opinions among individuals especially those in the field of education. According to Ikpe (2000), teachers, administrators and other personnels employed in vocational education take the position that vocational education and general education are major divisions of the total education programme and that each of the divisions are of equal importance and are both necessary in the education of workers. Osuala (2004) stated that general education is an identified group of educational experiences selected in order to develop in individuals those competences that are characterized of a responsible citizen. General education is tailored towards the preparation of a young person to acquire a broad or general orientation without emphasizing on specific vocation. Some experts suggest that vocational education is associated with utility while general education has to do with culture. Vocational educators insist that general education subjects do not provide education for specific competency needed in preparing for or progressing in a vocation.
However, various studies have shown that individuals differ in interest, needs and abilities. No single type or kind of education programme is suited to the needs and capabilities of all individuals. Vocational education is aimed at providing a person irrespective of age with a continuous programme of planned learning experiences designed to enable him fit into the world of work, It makes career information readily accessible to enable the youths relate their interest, needs and abilities to occupational opportunities that would enable them earn a living and discharge their civic duties. General education and vocational education are interrelated in the context of total education.

Problems of Vocational Education
Many problems have hindered effective function of vocational education in Nigeria. These problems have also negated or retarded development in this country. lkpe (2000) highlighted some of these problems to include:
·        Colonial legacy
·        Inadequate vocational educators
·        Poor budgetary allocation
·        Inadequate training institutions and facilities
·        Haphazard implementation of vocational education curriculum Inadequate motivation
·        Poor administration and supervision of vocational education programmes
·        Uncooperative attitude of commercial and industrial firms to accept trainees for Students Work Experience scheme (SIWES).

Colonial Legacy: The problems of vocational education could be traced to the British educational policy in Nigeria before independence. It was inherited by Nigerian administration on the attainment of political sovereignty on October 1. 1960. From the beginning of education in Nigeria, the British colonial government did not invest in vocational education. This contributed in making vocational education appear to some people as education for the dropouts. Many Nigerian students felt that studying vocational education is undignified and being inferior (Osuala, 1995).

Inadequate Vocation Educators:
Dearth of professionally trained vocational educators has continued to impede the growth of vocational education. Regrettably, majority of the few available instructors lack both technical and pedagogical orientation.

Poor Budgetary Allocation: Vocational education is a capital- intensive programme. To achieve the aim upon which vocational education is established, there should be adequate budgetary allocation. Unfortunately the budgetary allocation for vocational education is always very small and insufficient to procure and maintain instructional equipment, procure and maintain teaching materials for learning etc.


Inadequate Training Facilities and Equipment: Training facilities, institutions, relevant personnel and equipment are grossly inadequate. The dearth of training facilities is a matter of serious concern. There is therefore the need for government to establish and equip with up to date facilities and equipment, vocational institutions. As at 1988 only university of Nigeria Nsukka offer all the components of vocational education (In Agriculture, Business, Home Economics and Industrial Technical Education) from undergraduate to post graduate levels (Ikpe 2000).

Haphazard Implementation of Vocational Education
Curriculum: Many schools across the country are yet to fully implement the pre-vocational and vocational business education components. In most cases where the curriculum is claimed to be implemented it is haphazardly done.

Inadequate Motivation: Lack of motivation for vocational- technical teachers continued to deny Nigerian school system of professional vocational educators. Many vocationally trained educators have left the field for other areas where they are well motivated. The importance of vocational education demands that teachers in that area should be well motivated.

Poor Administration and Supervision of Vocational Education Programmes: Administration and supervision of vocational education programmes by non-professionals has continued to deter the growth of this phase of education. The administrators and supervisors of vocational aspects of education are persons without the relevant qualifications. Those who are in charge are doing so because of their seniority and salary levels in such establishments.

Uncooperative Attitude of Commercial and Industrial Firms to Accept Trainees for Students Work Experience Scheme:
Many commercial and industrial establishments usually do not accept students sent for placement in their firms for the purpose of industrial work experience. The refusal of these firms is not in the interest of national technical manpower development. The attitude of these organizations does not promote vocational-technical development in Nigeria. Similarly, they are acting contrary to the decree establishing Industrial Training Fund (ITF), which is the coordinating body of SIWES.

Strategies:
The following strategies may be applied to reconstruct and refocus vocational education toward achieving the needed stand of vocational education in Nigeria.

• Practical Orientation- Vocational education should be
more practical oriented and less theoretical in all its
courses, it should not be too bookish. This explains the
paradox of African continent which according to Nkwa
(2008) in Okorie and Uzor (2009) is rich in human and
material resources but driven into poverty, debt and other
social ills by the level of development of its human capital.

Management of Vocational Education- Vocational education is a special type of education. Those who do not understand the nitty-gritty of vocational education cannot effectively manage it. Vocational education will have its pride of place when vocational educators handle its management activities.

• Funding- Special budgetary allocation should be created for vocational education in Nigeria. All these years. there have been under funding of the education sector generally. The government should adequately fund the education sector with special attention to vocational education.

• Public Awareness and Attitudinal Change- The attitudes towards vocational education should be changed through seminars, workshops, and motivation of vocational educators and giving of scholarships to students in vocational education. It is common knowledge to know that students who opt for practical oriented courses are scarcely revered unlike their counterparts in academic education.

• Stealing of Ideas- There should be constant comparative studies to identify those aspects of foreign vocational education system, which could be adopted by Nigeria. It is not bad to steal good ideas and put them into practice for meaningful development.

CONCLUSION
In conclusion, in vocational education, learning how to learn or manipulate is an ultimate goal of the learner. This goal is of great importance especially today when new emphasis is been placed on life-long learning which is expected to provide people with new opportunities, responsibilities and challenges to exploit for survival. Vocational education should aim at promoting in the individuals the capability to reason, use instruction and understand changing relations through holistic thinking.
It is therefore imperative the Nigerian government should give adequate attention to vocational education, as it is a panacea to all spheres of development in any country. Vocational education should be given its pride of place by allowing only vocational educators to man the leadership of vocational education. Budgetary allocation must be adequately provided; proper motivation, training facilities and equipment etc. must all be adequately provided and put into practice for effective vocational education in Nigeria.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Vocational education should constitute the most viable and veritable vehicle for self-sustaining development. From comparative studies, vocational education has been the bane of development in most developed countries. In line with this, the writer, therefore, makes the following recommendations.
·        Vocational education should be made to be a vital aspect of education in Nigeria. It must not be in principle but in practice.
·        The government should create a special workshop / seminar        fund for vocational education only. This will help to change the orientation parents and students have for vocational subjects.
·        Policy makers in the education sector must stop changing Nigerian education policy. For instance, 6-3-3-4 system of education recognized the importance of vocational education. It is rather very important to implement good policies.

REFERENCES
Encyclopedia Americana International Edition, Groiler Incorporate (1991) Denbury Connecticut, USA.
lkpe, U.N (2000). An Introduction to vocational business education in Nigeria, Calabar: Baaj International Company.
Okorie Ogbonnaya and  Uzor, O. (2009). Business Education and Human Capital Development in contemporary Africa: Issues, challenges and strategies. International Journal of Educational   research   and Administration vol. 6 No 2.
Olaitan, S.O., Nwachukwu, C.E, Igbo, C.A Onyemachi, GA. and Ekong, A.0. (1999). Curriculum development and management in vocational technical education. Onitsha: Cape publishers International Ltd.
Osuala, E.C. (2004). Foundations of vocational education;
Onitsha: Cape publishers International LTD.
Osuala, E.C. (2004). Principles and methods of business and computer education, Enugu: Cheston Agency Ltd.
Osuala, E.C. (1995). Office Organization and management in Nigeria. Enugu: ACENA Publishing.
UNESCO’S recommendations concerning technical and vocational education. General conference 17 October-19 November 1974, Paris, France.

STRATEGIES FOR ACHIEVING EFFECTIVE VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS EDUCATION EBONYI STATE
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, IKWO
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