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revamping engineering technologist’s education for socio-economic development and sustainable nation building

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A one Nigeria nation came to being in 1914. A stronger socio-economic development will guaranteed the sustainability of this nation. This is simply achievable through technology. Engineering technologist as a member of engineering family has an important role to play in sustaining this nation Nigeria. This is only achievable in the presence of a well defined system of education for engineering technologist. In Nigeria, most polytechnics, a prime centre for engineering technologist’s education are synonymous with structural decay occasioned by neglect and misplaced priority.

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REVAMPING ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGIST’S EDUCATION FOR SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABLE NATION BUILDING

 

Abubakar Mohammed

Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Bayero University, Kano.

trophygroup2010@gmail.com

08076333005, 08135902360, 08088077706

 

ABSTRACT

A one Nigeria nation came to being in 1914. A stronger socio-economic development will guaranteed the sustainability of this nation. This is simply achievable through technology. Engineering technologist as a member of engineering family has an important role to play in sustaining this nation Nigeria. This is only achievable in the presence of a well defined system of education for engineering technologist. In Nigeria, most polytechnics, a prime centre for engineering technologist’s education are synonymous with structural decay occasioned by neglect and misplaced priority. There are numerous challenges facing Polytechnics in Nigeria which has affected negatively our national life, economy and development. Hence, this paper focuses on revamping engineering technologist’s education for socio-economic development and sustainable nation building. The basic key words were clearly defined in the paper. In order to address these problems, the paper focuses on the following; the emergence of Polytechnics in Nigeria, the Polytechnic: a centre for engineering technologist’s education, why was polytechnics established? Challenges in Nigerian engineering technologist’s education, revamping engineering technologist’s education, engineering technologist’s education: a tool for socio-economic development and engineering technologist’s education: a tool for sustainable nation building. Opinions of some great scholars from relevant literatures were used. The paper stressed that Polytechnic education is quite inevitable in the pursuit of technologically development of any Country. If Nigeria must favourably compete with other technological advanced Nations, the development and expansion of Polytechnic education must be pursued.

 

Keywords: Engineering Technologist’s Education, Socio-Economic Development, Sustainable Nation Building

INTRODUCTION

Nigeria is a country with religious diversity and hundreds of ethnic groups, each possessing distinct languages, dialects and cultures. Today many "First Nations" are in the process of nation re-building, the social, cultural, economic and a political foundation for what is left of self-governance. First nations seek to re-build cultural identities as nations in order to challenge disintegration by others in the creation of their own states (Stephenson 2005).

Socio-economic development and sustainable nation building in any country are generally rooted from a well established system of education and applications of science and technology. According to Mashi et al., (2014), geographical and human size of a nation may be indicators of its potential power but the real power of a country is measured today in terms of its economic progress, that is, the proven capacity to translate scientific knowledge through its judicious and determined exploitation of technologies in economic productivity. The importance of technologist’s education for socio-economic development and sustainable nation building has been recognized by nations who currently are in the forefront of human development index. According to Adeniyi (1999), Human development history has shown that sustainable development and self-sustaining progress of any country has generally followed the development and applications of science and technology, controlled by and responsive to the needs and endowment of a country. Any society without indigenous and endogenous science and technology research capacity and capability and high level of literacy cannot but continue to remain underdeveloped. In addition, the investigation of Abiodun (1999) shows that Scientific research in all its forms is the cornerstone of a nation’s social and economic development. This implies the need to revamp engineering technologist’s education for socio-economic development and sustainable nation building.

 

The aim and objectives for the establishment of Polytechnics in Nigeria is to turnout middle level manpower needed for industrial and technological development of the Country. Addison (2002) opined that Polytechnic Education in Nigeria is tasked to:

a.       Provide full-time or part-time courses of instruction and training in:

i.                    Technology, applied sciences, commerce and management.

ii.                  Such other fields of applied learning relevant to the needs of the development of Nigeria in the area of industrial and Agricultural production and distribution, and for research in development and adaptation of technologies.

b.      To arrange conferences, seminars and study group relevant to the fields of learning specified in (a) above.

c.       Perform such other functions as the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) may serve to direct further in promoting the objectives of the polytechnic education.

d.      In line with the above, one can posit that polytechnic education in Nigeria aims at the promotion of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, technological transfer and work skills development to enhance the socio-economic development of our country Nigeria.

 

THE EMERGENCE OF POLYTECHNICS IN NIGERIA

Polytechnic education, which is part of technical education programme in tertiary education Level leads to the acquisition of practical and applied skills as well as fundamental scientific knowledge (Uduma, 2015). In addition, Ukpai (2008) noted that polytechnic education is a type of education resulting in the acquisition of practical and useful skills. The founders of Polytechnic education in Nigeria appreciated the need for better conditions of living of the people and the overall development in line with the economics of the advanced nations built on solid educational foundation (Uduma, 2015).

 

Technical Education was established by the British colonial masters on realisation of the deficiencies and inadequacies of technical and vocational skills that were required for the production of services and the processing of raw materials to feed demand of such in their homeland (Jahun, 2017). The first set of such training institutions were established at Kaduna Technical School, Yaba Technical School and IMT Enugu which were later upgraded to Kaduna Polytechnic, Yaba College of Technology and Institute of Management and Technology Enugu to a National Diploma and Higher National Diploma awarding status from mere Certificates and proficiency test awards. Today, the number of Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology continue to grow even after the colonial masters had left. At present there are many Polytechnics in Nigeria offering various courses leading to the award of Certificates, National and Higher National Diploma.

 

THE POLYTECHNIC: A CENTRE FOR ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGIST’S EDUCATION

An engineering technologist is a specialist devoted to the implementation of existing technology within a field of engineering. Technologists often work with engineers in a wide variety of projects by applying basic engineering principles and technical skills. The work of technologists is usually focused on the portion of the technological spectrum closest to product improvement, manufacturing, construction, and engineering operational functions. Engineering technology programs are oriented toward application, and provide their with students introductory mathematics and science courses, and only a qualitative introduction to engineering fundamentals. Engineering technology programs prepare their graduates to apply others' designs. In general, the work of engineering technologists focuses on the applied and practical application of engineering principles, whereas the work of engineers emphasizes the theoretical aspects of mathematical, scientific and engineering principles (Louis, 2014).  In Nigeria, education for engineering technologist is acquired in Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology.

 

Polytechnic education in Nigeria is one out of the three arms of tertiary education in Nigeria. It is designed and structured to impart knowledge and necessary skills in order to provide competent and skilled labour force for industrial and technological development. It is therefore, made to be skills acquisition-oriented, scientific, practical and research-oriented as well (Christian, 2018). The entire curriculum design and instructional delivery pattern are targeted at enabling the students to have on-the-job work experience. The education provided by the polytechnic is directly focused on the students’ future career. Thus, Nigeria polytechnics give emphasis to the attachment of requisite skills acquisition in every facet of course delivery (Christian, 2018). Polytechnic is designed to offer programmes in various fields of Technology and Applied Sciences leading to the award of National Diploma (ND) Certificate for the first two years of study and a Higher National Diploma (HND) Certificate for the second phase of the four year programme in the polytechnic. The students are expected to undergo a one year (internship) industrial training on completion of the ND programme before registered for HND.

 

 

 

CHALLENGES IN NIGERIAN ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGIST’S EDUCATION

Polytechnic has a unique disadvantage; it has no specific institution where to train its staff as it is the case in Colleges of Education. For example, in Colleges of Education, for one to qualify for employment as an academic staff, one must possess a university degree and combined with a teaching qualification. It is also the case for a University academic staff that must possess a university degree to qualify as an academic staff in a university. The most Polytechnics derive their academic staff directly from Universities. Such a situation has left Polytechnics with no option than to be recruiting its academic staff from the universities. In a competitive situation sympathy and loyalty of staff in this case are placed on university cause rather than for Polytechnics cause. In addition, the country turned into producing insufficient, unqualified and ill prepared Polytechnic graduates who ordinarily are supposed to be the driving force for the economic and industry transformation of the country as experienced in developing countries like China and Turkey. Most polytechnics in Nigeria are synonymous with structural decay occasioned by neglect and misplaced priority. There are numerous challenges facing Polytechnics in Nigeria which has affected negatively our national life and development. Among the challenges are (Christian, 2018):

Ø  Incessant strike actions by Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP);

Ø  Total neglect of polytechnic education by successive government;

Ø  Underfunding;

Ø  Poor welfare package to polytechnic staff;

Ø  Non-payment of workforce salaries in the polytechnic;

Ø  Deplorable conditions of infrastructure;

Ø  Poor societal perception about polytechnic education;

Ø  Open discrimination of polytechnic graduates by employers of labour;

Ø  Financial mis-management by polytechnic administration;

Ø  Brain drain-great exodus of polytechnic staff in search of greener pasture in other lucrative areas; and

Ø  Poor quality academic staff.

 

 

ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGIST’S EDUCATION: A TOOL FOR SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

It has been observed that the Nigerian society lacks an in-depth understanding of the role of science and technology in national development plans (Abiodun, 1999). Development can mean the actualization of an implicit potentiality, the simplest example being the patterned growth maturation of a seed or an initial germ–cell, to the full adult from the individual plant, animal or human being (Fletcher, 1974). Thomas et al., (1992), go on to argue that “All definitions of development contain the central notion of a process of change from a less desirable to a more desirable kind of society.

Bennell (1996) observes that all countries, especially developing countries, need balanced development through all of the educational sectors in order to make significant progress in terms of national development. Education is generally viewed as crucial for rapid economic growth, and essential if we wish to increase the productivity of the poor by reducing fertility and providing people with the skills they need to participate fully in the economy and in society (Fagerlind and Saha, 1989). In addition, Ukpai (2008) opined that, the country's progress and prosperity will be principally determined by the people's ability to understand and take optimum advantage of the potentialities for continued advances resulting from a dynamic and progressive technology to a solid educational foundation and stable system. It is obvious that the main strategy for Nigeria's economic growth and solid educational foundation and stable system is the adaptation of technology for self sufficiency. It must be noted that education at all levels must help to accelerate technological growth (Uduma, 2015). Bennell (1996) observed that all countries, especially developing countries, need balanced development through all of the educational sectors in order to make significant progress in terms of national development.

 

According to Sheieh, Wang and Chon (2009), lifelong vocational education will gradually improve the economic and social development of both the people and the country by making vocational education a channel for exploitation of human resources. In addition, the development of a nation’s economy is contingent on the quality of skilled human capital in the pool. Vocational and technical education provides student with life skills that will make them to be productive entrepreneurs as it engenders creative and innovative ideas; enlarges the economic pie and increases personal freedom. The bedrock to technological emancipation for Nigeria is centered on Polytechnic education (Christian, 2018).

 

Nigeria since last decade has being clamoring on entrepreneurship but neglect where such skills are acquired.  Entrepreneurial Education refers to vocational education that informs, inspires and equips students with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and techniques for entrepreneurial success. Basically, it instills in the student the capacity to create value, opportunities (such as job and business opportunities) and wealth (Sobel, 2007). Entrepreneurial development has become very significant being a key to economic development. It fosters industrial development, regional growth, and employment generation. Entrepreneurs are the seeds of industrial development and they hold the keys to greater employment opportunities, increase in per capita income, higher standard of living and increased individual saving, revenue to the government in the form of income tax, sales tax, export duties, import duties, and balanced regional development (Smiriti, 2017). This will help the students to establish their own enterprise as seen in China, Turkey, India, Japan among other countries that have succeeded economically through vocational education. In addition, most developed countries of Europe and America, including the developing ones like China and India owe their technological dexterity to products of their Polytechnics and technical education (Ojerinde, 2015). According to Lawal (2014), for a country to advance socially, economically and technologically, its citizens must be creative and productive with a majority becoming job creators rather than seekers.

ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGIST’S EDUCATION: A TOOL FOR SUSTAINABLE NATION BUILDING

Nation building is a normative concept that can have divergent meanings in different contexts. Akoto (2010) defines nation building as the conscious and focused application of our people’s collective resources, energies, and knowledge to the task of liberating and developing the psychic and physical space that we identify as ours. It is principally understood as the process of creating a collective identity or a national community through the political integration of members within a given territory (Von Bogdandy et al., 2013).

 

Building and sustaining a nation could be achieved through provision of Quality and defined system of education. Education may be regarded as a method of leading people out of ignorance. It is a means of socializing human beings. It involves the bringing up of a child in the community and constantly training him to adjust himself to the changing world around him. It is a lifelong process (Okoro, 2011). It is known all over the world as a veritable tool for nation building and moral regeneration; and there cannot be any meaningful socio-political, economic and technological development in a country whose education system is dysfunctional (Orji, 2013). The goals of the educational system in Nigeria are yet to be achieved. The educational system has not been able to transform the individuals and society (Okoro, 2011). It is common knowledge that the Nigeria Education System has the challenge of access and quality. These arose from dilapidated facilities, dry and empty laboratories and workshops, obsolete equipment and curricula occasioned by poor funding and long years of neglect of the sector (Charles, 2017). In addition, Mashi et al., (2014) opined that, human and national sustainable development are determined largely by the level of indigenous and endogenous scientific and technological research, the communication of research results and on the knowledge acquired and brought to bear on policy making, programme formulation, project implementation, monitoring and impact assessment.

 

REVAMPING ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGIST’S EDUCATION

Training personnel of Engineering Technologists are carried for the purpose of equipping them in the industry with the relevant knowledge and tools to improve performance and efficiency in the Engineering sectors (Mohammed, 2016). Finding the way forward for revamping engineering technologist’s education in Nigeria entails the correction of the anomalies highlighted in this paper. To achieve this, the following strategies could be adopted;

Funding: Government should endeavour to fund Polytechnics and other skill acquisition programmes, bearing in mind the capital intensive nature of the programmes. In addition, a special intervention fund should be created for the effective implementation of the programmes at all levels. This will help to equip the workshops and laboratories for effective skill acquisition.

Staffing: Oluwale, Jegede and Olamade (2013) stated that attracting qualified staff into teaching and teacher training in technical and vocational education was a problem for most countries including Nigeria. In order to spur locally needed vocational and technology teachers, it is imperative that Nigerian government should seriously consider proper retention schemes for their best talents by providing special working conditions such as; adequate research supports and other incentives to stem this problem of brain drain.

Staff Training: The training of academic staff should be a continuous exercise to ensure consistent improvement in the quality of polytechnic teachers.

Enrich Laboratory/Workshop: Students can acquire the right skills only when they are taught with the right tools, equipment and machines in a good environment. Hence, government should equip Polytechnics workshops with modern equipment, tools and machines to enable teachers and students practice the skills using a replica of what should be obtained in the workplace and as well as undertake socially relevant researches.

Involvement of Polytechnics staffs in Policy Decisions: The major problem confronting Polytechnics is the use of non-professional in handling its matters. For successful engineering technologist’s education, government should ensure those professionals are involved in policy and decisions making, planning and implementation. The professionals, according to Manfred and Jennifer in Okolocha (2012), have all the necessary skills, abilities and capabilities for carrying out the programme.

Proper Planning: Policies on education made in haste will never give desired results. It would be better according to Gusau (2008), if policies are made in such a way that changes can be accommodated without disturbing the overall system. Proper planning will also help to avoid inconsistencies in policy decisions which could hinder performance and success of programmes.

Boosting the Image of polytechnics: The image of Polytechnic education should be boosted through adequate and proper sensitization. Proper re-orientation will make the education stakeholders to begin to see Polytechnic education with the seriousness that it requires. Students must be made to realize that certificates do not count again but the depth of knowledge and vocational skills which they have acquired and their ability to sustain the skill.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

In reality, the greatness of a nation has to be earned and is not determined just by the size of its population or the abundance of its natural resources. China and India have the largest populations in the world, but they are only now rising as important global players. On the other hand, Japan has few natural resources, but has long managed to turn itself into a global economic powerhouse... “In today's world, skills, industriousness, productivity, and competitiveness are the determinant factors of national greatness. Not even the possession of the nuclear bomb is enough to make a nation great without reference to the industriousness and creativity of its citizens.”(Gambari 2008).

 

In addition, Nations are built by exemplary men and women and sustained by institutions such as governmental and non-governmental organizations that promote good governance and thus socio-economic development.The development of a nation’s economy is contingent on the quality of skilled human capital in the pool. Polytechnic education provides student with life skills that will make them to be productive entrepreneurs as it engenders creative and innovative ideas; enlarges the economic pie and increases personal freedom. Therefore, If Nigeria must favourably compete with other technological advanced Nations the world over, the development and expansion of Polytechnic education is the key.

 

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