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Teachers urge government to make skill acquisition mandatory


The need to adjust to the global economic trend, which demands that individuals arm themselves with more than just academic degrees and qualifications to enable them build a better future, is gaining more ground in Nigeria. Not only are parents and teachers taking the issue seriously, they are also making suggestions on how best to achieve it.

One of such proposals is encouraging children to engage in skill acquisition programmes aside their academic studies, so that they don’t have to rely on diminishing white-collar jobs. With this, they can even become employers of labour, thereby contributing to the nation’s economic growth.

In this light, Oluwakemi Chijioke, a teacher at Rybeka Model College, Apapa, Lagos, has recommended that government should make vocational skills mandatory for students, by including it in the school curriculum to promote entrepreneurial spirit among youths.

She said: “Too many graduates are chasing the few available jobs in the labour market. So, it has become necessary that youths acquire skills that can make them become self-reliant. Vocational skills would enable students to establish different small-scale businesses that could eventually form clusters, able to help grow the economy; engage other young people and improve the people’s well-being.”

Interestingly, she explained that learning skills while still in school would not prevent pupils from focusing on their studies. On the contrary, she said it would aid their mental ability, as well as reduce the time they spend on unbeneficial frivolous activities outside school.

The vocational subject teacher said some pupils have begun to make money from their skills, adding that government should make it mandatory for all schools from primary to tertiary institutions to include vocational skill acquisitions in their curriculum. This, to her, is one of the ways to encourage business acumen and curb youth unemployment.

She noted that this would also make pupils that are good at arts and crafts or who like working with their hands to showcase their talents and begin to make money through them. She said: “The pupils are not equally gifted. While some are good in one domain of learning, others are good in other areas. But with skill acquisition taught in schools, pupils that are better in the psychomotor domain will be encouraged to come up with something more creative.

“It is a good way to go for government and the nation’s economy, as the development will produce many entrepreneurs and investors in future. This will be the case when we begin to immediately direct pupils aright.”

Stressing the importance of getting it right, Chijioke said parents should not just allow their children to go through the training without making them put what they have learnt into practice. She noted that starting may be hard, but success will surely come with perseverance, focus and hard work.

Chiamaka Uzondu, a teacher with De-Light Nursery And Primary School, Wilmer, Lagos, noted that pupils with skills can never be unemployed, and that even while in the university, they can be making money on the side.

She explained that, though there may be some challenges at getting the necessary equipment to start, such challenges could be overcome by starting small and selling one’s products to family members and friends. According to her, this group of people is important, because they help to promote and introduce such products to others.

She said: “You do not need to have all the equipment to start. If you discover that acquiring new ones would be expensive, then go for the fairly used ones, which are usually less expensive and would still give you what you want. An entrepreneur also needs to cultivate the habit of saving and book keeping, as these will help to monitor his/her finances.”

She said one of the benefits of pupils going into entrepreneurship is that it helps them appreciate the dignity of labour at an early age, as well as have more than one stream of income.

“Entrepreneurship enables pupils to develop self-confidence, which comes from knowing that they are able to produce items and services other people could use and be happy.

“It is not easy to canvass for customers to patronise one’s product or services. But with the right entrepreneurial skill, one is likely to meet different people and talk about sales. So, entrepreneurship could provide the platform for one to socialise and make money at the same time,” she noted.

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