‘Technical and vocational education is receiving a boost in Delta’
Mrs. Clara Obanor Clara, Chairperson of Delta State Technical and Vocational Education Board (DSTVEB), Founder/Senior Director of Kembos Group of Schools in Lagos, who spent over 12 years as a teacher, speaks on the journey so far, one year after her appointment.
How has it been chairing the Board, especially being your first such public office at that level?
It has been challenging, but service in and of itself has its own reward. The Board was established in 2015 to reposition and effectively manage technical and vocational training of manpower; midwife the state technical advancement; encourage entrepreneurship among Deltans; and provide technical skill as much as possible for industrial, commercial and economic development.
The Board members work with school Principals, administrators, directors and other stakeholders to inculcate in the people the attitude of respect and appreciation of the role of technical and vocational education in the state.
The Board stimulates and encourages pre-vocational and general technical education in the schools, not only as a basis for creating early technological awareness, but to also provide direct practical skills for earning a living.
Indeed, technical and vocational education is receiving a boost in Delta State.
What are the basic functions of your Board?
The functions of the board include to manage Technical Colleges and Vocational Centres in the state; implement all policies on technical and vocational education; appoint, promote, transfer, discipline and implement other conditions of service.
It is also expected to pay salaries and wages of its staff; collate, analyse and publish information related to the vocational education in the state; acquire any equipment, material and properties required for the purpose of the board; and perform such other functions as may be assigned to it by the governor.
What has the Board been able to achieve in the last one year that you have chaired it?
Prior to the assumption of office by the present administration, the Delta State Technical Colleges and Vocational Centres were characterised by dilapidated structures, non-equipped workshops and laboratories, curriculum that lacks most present day essentials, poor library facilities, amongst other basic necessities, etc.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, desirous to revamp the system, recognised the need for urgent steps to reverse the trend where graduates of Nigerian universities rely solely on government jobs to make ends meet.
To achieve this, he proposed a Bill to the state Assembly to establish the Board to help oversee all the activities of the technical colleges and vocational centres, which was passed and signed into law in June 2015.
The Board was given the responsibility of ensuring a total revamp of three technical colleges located in Agbor, Sapele and Ofagbe (one from each senatorial district).
At Agbor, the Board undertook the conversion of catering/workshop block to classroom blocks with stores and toilets; renovation of three classroom blocks with stores and toilets; completion of prototype steel stanchion and structural roof workshop building; construction of three-bedroom bungalow for the principal; improvement of multi-purpose school hall; construction of twin two-bedroom staff quarters; among others.
Contracts have been awarded for Phase 2 projects, which captured construction of school fence, gate/gate house and have been completed and ready for commissioning, while building of generator house, erosion control and construction of schools’ access roads and drains are ongoing.
For the college at Sapele, the board has renovated the principal’s lodge (two-bedroom duplex quarters and garages); staff room/computer centre; hostel block; renovation of electrical workshop; welding and fabrication classroom; mechanical engineering department classroom block; storey building hostel block; kitchen/dining and assembly halls; and constructed access roads within the school, among others.
At Ofagbe, the board renovated boys’ quarters; multi-purpose hall; staff quarters; welding/fabrication workshop; automobile workshop; hostel block (storey building); electrical workshop; mechanical department (six classroom block); library block; science laboratory/business studies department; mechanical department (four classroom block); and reconstructed administrative block principal’s office); dining hall; block of toilets, among others.
In furtherance to the governor’s developmental strides in the technical colleges, the three other colleges at Utagba-Ogbe in Ukwani Council, Isele-Uku in Aniocha North Council and Otor-Ogor in Ughelli South Council have all been approved and awarded for similar infrastructural upgrade as captured in this year’s budget.
Renovations of main workshop and external automobile workshop, as well as construction of prototype steel stanchion and structural roof workshop building have been approved and contract awarded for the Issele-Uku Technical College.
These are in addition to the construction of prototype steel stanchion and structural roof workshop building; procurement of science laboratory furniture and equipment; renovation of administrative block; construction of library; renovation of chemistry laboratory; and construction of two-bedroom staff quarters.
In Ogor Technical College, contracts have been approved and awarded for the renovation of one six classrooms block, with six offices and four toilets; renovation of four bedroom flat Principal’s Quarters; renovation/rehabilitation of examination hall; construction of administrative block; construction of science Laboratory block; and renovation of six classrooms block with six offices and four toilets.
At Utagba-Ogbe, we have completed the prototype steel stanchion and structural roof workshop building (electrical workshop/classroom); staff quarters; renovation/completion of one six classroom block; demolition and construction of male hostel block; construction of laboratory block of three halls, offices and toilets; and renovation of dining/kitchen and generator house.
Similar interventions are also intended in the state-owned vocational centres, as some of them that are in bad shape are already been mapped out for rehabilitation.
When completed, this would give the students a new lease of study life that can compete with any other in the Western world. Contracts have also been approved and awarded for the refurbishing/repair of technical equipment in all six technical colleges, while landscaping and erosion control work (phase 1) and construction of football field
Teachers and instructors from six technical colleges were trained at the Nigeria Metallurgical Training Institute, Onitsha and the results are already being seen in the institutions, as some of the machines, which were not being used in the past due to lack of skilled instructor, are now being utilised.
The state government approval for pre-vocational classes (1-111) in the technical colleges has improved students enrollment in the technical colleges, in addition to the procurement of equipment needed for teaching and learning.
What is your relationship with other members of the Board?
My relationship with the other members of the board has been professional. We are working to actualise the state government’s objectives.