The year 2020 would be remembered for a long time for the disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all areas of human life. KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE reports on how an intervention helped 37 technical colleges across 20 states achieve excellent results in the NABTEB examinations.
The 2019/2020 academic session was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, students in terminal classes still had to sit for external examinations.
With schools shut for almost two terms, it was a herculean task preparing for these examinations, especially as there was inadequate time for preparation coupled with the challenges of inadequate facilities and meeting COVID-19 protocols which required students to be spaced out.
However, some 37 government-run technical colleges that applied for the Future Workers’ programmes funded by the Open Society Foundation through the development Research and Projects Center (dRPC) Kano were able to shore up preparation for the National Business Certificate Examination and the National Technical Certificate Examination conducted by the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB).
The schools got between N200,000 and N600,000 to organise extra lessons, engage facilitators, buy text books, and provide equipment and COVID-19 preventions supplies.
The project impacted over 5,000 students from the selected schools drawn from states in all six geo-political zones of the country including Kogi, Ebonyi, Kano, Kebbi, Yobe, Akwa Ibom, Borno, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kwara, Lagos, and Niger.
Principal of the Government Technical College Akpuoga Nike in Enugu State, Mr. Raphel Ndubuisi said it was difficult getting teachers back to class even after schools resumed because of the fear of contracting COVID-19. However, with funding from the project, he said preparations resumed in earnest.
“The restrictions involved and the fear of announcements on radio about contracting COVID-19 made it difficult convincing the students and the teachers to resume. But due to the incentives from the project, the teachers were told they would get at least N1,000/N2,000 for the extra lessons, they came. The students also summoned the courage after we made phone calls,” he told The Nation.
With the N300,000 the school got, Ndubuisi said it did repairs, organised practical lessons and career counseling session, which helped not only to improve performance in the NABTEB examination but in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) as well.
“There is a great improvement in the result. For catering department, all of them did very well – not only for NABTEB, but WAEC as well. All the students did very well because some of the technical books were supplied. For WAEC you must do one technical or trade course so most of them excelled very well,” he said.
The Principal also said that the Guidance and Counseling component of the project helped the 2020 set get engaged quickly after school.
“The guidance counselling day was well organised. Most of the students are now well occupied doing one thing or the other. One student even started supplying local custard to local markets from his final year. The meagre amount helped us a lot,” he said.
Yusuf Yakubu of Government Day Technical College, Azare, Bauchi State, said the school had not received its NABTEB results but individual performance by students was impressive.
“The performance was highly impressive. Due to the intervention, dRPC encouraged the students through organising the private lessons. It strengthened the students to perform better in NABTEB examination,” he said.
The Government Technical College, Ikotun, Lagos, Mr. Aaron Olayemi had the school with the largest population of beneficiaries of the project. He said the school’s 2020 result was better than the previous year.
“To some extent when we compared the last year’s result with breakdown and the analysis with respect to that of 2019 they performed better,” he said.
At present, he said many of the 2020 set were making progress either academically or in their careers.
“Some of them are in higher institutions now; some are in some companies working; some of them are on their own. Very few ones, about four students that we don’t really know whether they have gotten job offers,” he said.
NABTEB Registrar, Prof. Ifeoma Isiugo-Abanihe, commended the intervention, saying it came when needed.
“Although we do not train students as an exam body but we know that some students received help and we are happy that CSO are stakeholders and support Nigeria students. The social intervention is wonderful and a basic need,” she said.
While releasing results of the 2020 November/December NTC and NBC examinations last Friday, NABTEB Registrar, Prof. Isiugo-Abanihe underscored the importance of technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
“Let me use this forum to remind everyone of the dire need for increased emphasis on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) at all levels in the country. The principal objective of TVET is to train youths and adults alike, preparing them to develop relevant skills needed for today’s labour market and for academic progression.The global economy today offers Nigeria new opportunities to adopt TVET, technology and science as veritable tools for national growth and development,” she said calling for the establishment of more technical colleges and provision of requisite TVET equipment for the schools.
Coordinator of dRPC, Dr. Judith-Ann Walker, said the Future Workers’ project was designed to equip young people in technical colleges with vocational skills and build local capacity for technical jobs that often go to citizens of neighbouring countries.
“There is the need to adopt vocational and technical education to engage the youths. Today, we go to Cotonou, Ghana for POPs, tiles, interlocks when we can drive vocational education to create jobs. This is the reason behind the Future Workers; project – to help train a cohort of young Nigerians who can fill the vocational gaps inherent in the country,” she said.
Walker also said the effort to equip young people with vocational skills that would promote economic growth, entrepreneurship and employability informed dRPC’s partnership with the Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) to review the national Senior Secondary Curriculum in the last five years. The centre, with funding support from the MacArthur Foundation, worked with the NERDC to infuse entrepreneurship into the 34 trade subjects taken in the senior school certificate examination.
A bill for an Act to provide for the compulsory teaching of vocational studies in the syllabuses of secondary schools in Nigeria and for related matters, 2020 sponsored by Hon. Joseph Asuku Bello is before the national assembly.
When passed, it would make it a punishable offense not to teach vocational studies in schools.