Catching them young through vocational training

By Ujunwa Atueyi   |   08 September 2015   |   12:01 am  
Students

Some students during vocational training

WORRIED by the dearth of skills among Nigerian youths, stakeholders have stressed the need for parents to engage their children in vocational training early in life.

The situation, if not appropriately tackled, they said could hinder the country’s development process, since vocational education drives socio-economic development and job creation.

The argument is that both schools and parents should devote periods such as long holidays to drill pupils/students through vocational training. In fact, the National Summer Learning Association, United States, in its online bulletin highlighted “for students to succeed in school and life, they need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills.”

Usually, when the school door closes, many parents look forward to their children having idyllic holidays. The average Nigerian parents during this period enroll their children in summer school; some register their children/wards for religious or social camping, while others in most cases visits relatives abode or even stay idle at home.

But some stakeholders who spoke with The Guardian on the issue stressed the need for children to be profitably engaged during the period.

The emphasis is that children should be exposed to life learning skills and vocational programmes early in life, since skill acquisition is very vital in the contemporary world.

According to them, nothing is innovative in the usual holiday coaching/summer classes which most parents crave for, as children are made to practice the same reading and writing which they do the entire year.

This, they further explained had a way of hindering the creative skill of students. And so, rather than allow them continue with summer schools, effort should be on skill acquisition and vocational training that would help them later in life.

If holiday periods, especially one spanning through months should be dedicated to teaching vocation to students, experts were of the view that the issue of skill gap would be gradually addressed.

The Principal Partner, TBOJ Consult, an education consultancy firm, Mrs. Bimbo Obasuyi, said that students should be made to learn skills during the long vacation and parents were expected to offer a guide putting the child’s interest into consideration.

According to her: “Activities this season should be less of academic work. There is high level of deficiency among our contemporary graduates. The problem we have in this country is that we are too focused on certificate.

Parents should find what is lacking in their children, find out what they have passion for and help them develop it during this holiday. “Even if it is going to be academic, let it be only on English or Mathematics pending where your child is having challenge.

Outside that, the best way of engaging kids during this season is to allow them learn skills that would help them in career development.”

Echoing Obasuyi’s view, the Manager, Public and Government Affairs, Mobil Oil Nigeria, Plc, Akin Fatunke, said that there was need to teach students basic skills they needed to know and etiquettes of life.

His words: “I have always been a champion of entrepreneurship and skills acquisition. They are veritable ways of taking our youths off streets and off drugs.

A lot of corporate organisations do a lot of projects, talent hunt and singing competitions. I am not against it, but I rather want a situation whereby we get these students to learn skills that they would use to feed for the rest of their lives.”

A member of Concerned Parents and Educators Network, Edobong Akpabio, advised parents to enroll their children for vocational training considering their area of interest and age.

According to her, repeating same school activities during the holiday was not ideal, rather students should be made to try something new and different from what they had been doing previously.

Her words: “During this period, there are summer schools everywhere but what do they really offer? The same academic programmes they were teaching over the time. I am not saying this is bad, but it is only if your children are not doing well in certain subjects.

Else, I will advise parents to look out for vocational programmes for their children. “Parents should know area of interests of their children and what they have passion for and support them by looking out for programmes that would be of benefit to them.

There is no use hounding the child to build career in medical field only for him/her to prefer cake baking two years after National Youth Service Corps.”

The Director of TLS School, Ikoyi, Mrs. Olubunmi Egbeyemi, said that children should be exposed largely to vocational activities, to enable their brains perform optimally.

She said that rejuvenating activities during holidays would make students return to school and ready to jump back into the swing of academic activities.

But, “sometimes parents want the children to rest, while others want academic activities to continue, because they see schools as structured environment where their children could be taken care of, so they can conveniently concentrate on their jobs.

So for me, the best way is to engage the pupils with some outdoor activities like swimming, art and craft, football and normal schoolwork for younger ones, so they don’t forget, since it is a long holiday.

What can happen during long vacation is that children, particularly the young ones tend to forget the schoolwork. But for older ones, if I have my way, they would not do academic work, but parents would always insists.”

Sharing international experience on exposing children to skill acquisition early in life, a parent, Morenike Oyenusi, said parents should make good use of long vacation in that regard.

She also said that there was need to have summer camps in Nigeria the way it is in the United States (US). “In U.S, there is no end to organised entertaining activities that children can engage in all summer.

Of course, you have to pay for most of them and the cost ranges from reasonable to very expensive. “There are vocational training centres, drama camps, sports camps, theatre camps, Christian camps, vacation Bible school, science camps, anything you can think of, there is a camp for it.

On the whole, they are educational while also fun for the children. Perhaps as a long-term plan people should think about setting these up in the country for the benefit of the Nigerian child.”

Managing Consultant, My Heritage Book, Oluneye Oluwole, also expressed that there was need to organise all-inclusive camp for students, where they could learn skills and be allowed to express their creative ability. “Right now, the family setting is fragmented; daddy and mummy are legitimately chasing something, because they have to pay the school bills.

You then find out that children are left on their own, while some are left with electronic appliances unguided. “We need to bring back the reading culture this season, because an informed individual can make responsible decisions.

If you are depending on what someone else said and you are not reading… you are not tasking your mental capacity, you will be limited in your scope and exposure. Such individuals do develop inferiority complex, because they can neither speak well nor express themselves. And all these could be addressed through reading.

She continued: “We need to go back to the basis. I remember when we are growing; we could read books in both English and Yoruba. We were given so many books to read and with that we can travel the world within the four walls of our classroom.

A teacher would walk in and say ‘today we are studying King Jaja of Opobo, and they would talk about Jaja of Opobo in Calabar and then talk about Calabar as a city.

All these we need to bring back, so that our children can read and be intellectually sound and also be able to compete with any of their contemporaries.”

Conversely, Tomi Falaiye, a member of Concerned Parents and Educators Network, said that parents needed to spend quality time with their kids this season and engage them in meaningful discussion that would awaken their analytical skills.

She said: “One thing I know is that by and by, knowledge of history and current affairs is no longer stressed by parents and schools. Many ‘smart’ children don’t know about the Trojan horse, Adolf Hitler, Berlin Wall, Oliver Cromwell and even the Nigerian Civil War! The reading culture is dying but what did, we do to encourage children to read? Even if they go for summer school of any type, be it Bible camp or vocational, parents should still buy ‘Readers Digest’ where some of these stories are featured in snippets.”

Also, a retired Nurse, Mrs. Funke Adesuyi, said: “It is good to enroll children in summer schools, so that they can be positively engaged. There are so many distractions in the society today. While we are busy with work, we should not leave them idle.

We should plan their summer and get them properly engaged. “There are good summer schools, there is religious and social camp for youths and children where series of training are done to keep them enlightened. Leaving children idle is not a good act as we are leaving them to uncertain circumstances,” she said.



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