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Engineers seek new policy to revive technical, vocational education

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APWEN urged to improve women participation in STEM

To limit dependency on foreign engineering products and manpower, engineers have called on government to initiate policies that would revive technical and vocational education in the country.

They said that building the future should be non-negotiable and driven through the use of technical, vocational education as well as industrial partnerships for local content development.

To them, despite government’s successes and efforts in the past through technical and vocational education to reduce poverty, hunger and unemployment, the challenge persists due to insufficient funding, poor state of facilities, brain drain/search for greener pastures, poor staff training and retention mechanism, static and parallel curriculum of technical education and dis-integrated educational value system.

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The experts made the call at the 12th Olu Awoyinfa distinguished yearly lecture and induction of new members organised by Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Ikeja branch.

Leading the call was Vice-chancellor, Bells University of Technology, Ota, Prof. Jeremiah Ojediran. He said that if Nigeria wants to be free from poverty, scarcity and unemployment, technical oriented institutions should be adequately and equitably equipped.

Ojediran, who was keynote speaker, said, for the nation to positively and satisfactorily compete in the evolving global market, it has to do away with unskilled labour workforce.

Speaking on the theme, ’Key Factors to Qualitative Local Content Development: Educational and Industrial Synergy’, he recommended that industries should encourage students, who intend to have their industrial training experiences, National Youths Service Corps and other related opportunities for vocational and hands on training.

He said: “The curriculum taught in vocational institutions should be studied, revised and upgraded to meet demands of the present work force, industry and national development among others. Skilled and proficient teachers must be engaged and retained as well as priority and attention to in – service training using technology.”

According to him, policies and regulations must be put in place to ensure that Nigerians patronise local content developers in engineering infrastructure while the process of production must be so regulated and monitored to ensure quality and functionality of local products.

The Acting Director General, FIIRO, Dr. Agnes Asagbra, said the institute was contributing to local content development through entrepreneurship, training of students on internship/NYSC, technology transfer training workshops, innovation, creativity and value addition.

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Represented by the institute’s Director of Research and Development, Dr. Wahab Ashiru, she said university-industry collaboration and ensuring transfer of scientific knowledge has been viewed as one of the contributors to technological innovation and economic growth.

Asagbra called for government sponsored scholarship programme, incentives for small business development and strengthening of vocational training institution and industrial training fund.

The Chairman of the branch, Olutosin Ogunmola, said engineers are working with the Nigerian Railways Corporation toward ensuring locally manufacture of spare parts for the maintenance of railway tracks and partnership with the Federal Institute of Industrial Research.

The representative of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), South West Region, Mrs. Margret Oguntala, said COREN has developed Outcome-Based Education (OBE) scheme that would promote efficient-skill development among graduates of higher institution.

MEANWHILE,the Association of Professional Women Engineers in Nigeria (APWEN) has been challenged to undertake programmes that groom girls in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers and improve women participation in economic development.

The Deputy Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Funmilade Akingbagbohun, who gave the charge during a technical session organised by APWEN, Lagos chapter, observed that emerging engineering opportunities for national development abound in over 25 major branches of engineering.

Akingbagbohun, who spoke on ‘Role of Female Engineers in National Economic Development,’ said women in engineering must be interdisciplinary, learn to network with other professionals and get familiar with how everyone around them operate.

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She lamented that Nigeria still overlooks its engineers when it comes to development, policy formation and implementation, adding that engineers must press for local content enforcement in all economic matters.

According to her, women engineers play multiple functions in society. Aside being professional engineers, they also play role of homemakers and community influencers, STEM educators, employees, employers and community leaders as well as served as significant force in politics and public services.

Akingbagbohun, who doubles as the immediate past chairman, Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), noted that being a woman in engineering is more challenging as a result of the multiple roles women play in the society.

APWEN Chairman, Lagos branch, Mary Afolayan, who said engineering bridges gap between society and scientific knowledge, stressed that the forum became necessary to sensitise members and women in general on their role in socio-economic development.

She said part of APWEN’s vision and mission was to serve as catalyst for advancement of women in engineering profession, adding that this is targeted at national and global technological development.

Afolayan said: “We have been creating awareness that engineering is for the female, thereby increasing numerical strength of female engineers. We are also encouraging women to achieve professional excellence.”

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