This is a follow up to my previous article on the Nigerian TVET challenge. If you recall, I stated that for us to solve our TVET challenge, we must re-work our primary and secondary education system to make it practically impossible for any student to come out of our schools without acquiring basic TVET skills. In addition, anybody outside the school system must also have a clear pathway to pick up TVET skills in an accessible and affordable manner. Therefore, I believe the most feasible way of providing TVET infrastructure nation-wide would be to create an economy around a two-tier TVET model (both for the formal and informal school system). This would incentivise the private sector to be involved in the provision, training, delivery and management of TVET facilities across the country.
Why TVET Economy you ask?
TVET is globally recognised for its role in preparing people for dynamic engagement in occupations of functional value and as an effective source of skilled workforce. It is not merely a profession, but the practice of life-saving skills. Thus, building an economy around TVET is critical for us as a nation to overcome our TVET challenge – as a TVET graduate has the requisite employability skills for gainful employment. This implies that any nation without an effective TVET system will suffer from a huge deficit of low to mid-level technical skills needed to sustain the continued growth of their economies. Hence, TVET has become one of the most fundamental education pathways for countries that are focused on accelerated economic growth, expansion of employment opportunities and improvement in the quality of their skilled work-force.
Furthermore, I had stated a number of factors earlier, which impedes the smooth implementation of TVET in Nigeria. These underlying challenges according to the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), includes: Low Societal Recognition – which translates to Low Enrolment and Shortage in Skilled Workforce, Obsolete Instructional Facility, Inadequate Funding, Poor Staffing, Poor Linkages with Industry and General Deficiency in Quality. To solve the challenges listed above, we must create an efficient, functional, accessible, cost-effective, private sector-driven and government monitored TVET structure within the formal and informal school system.
This model must be largely private-sector driven, but why the private sector?
If we recall, in 1985 Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (also known as NITEL) was established and given monopoly status in the communication sector. Prior to the 1999 deregulation policy, there were only about 18,724 telephone lines in 1960 and 438,619 in 1998. The sector was then totally liberalized in 2001, with the licensing of MTN and ECONET (currently known as Airtel). These companies injected over a million lines into Nigeria within a year and currently we have 286,522,926 GSM subscribers, as opposed to what we had prior to the involvement of the private sector.
Similarly, the private sector has also played a role in our tertiary education system. The first government tertiary institution in Nigeria (Yaba College of Technology) was founded in 1947 and we currently have over 170 tertiary institutions at both the federal and state levels. Whereas, the first private tertiary institution in Nigeria (Igbinedion University) was established in 1999 and at present we have over 140 private tertiary institutions. These examples show the capacity of the private sector in solving key economic challenges and producing viable results if properly incentivised and regulated.
So How Do We Make This Model Work?
I envisage a model based on 3 Key Pillars; The federal government, state government and the private sector. Each of these three entities will function in a distinct but harmonised capacity as outlined below:
- The Federal GovernmentUnder this model, the following is expected from the federal government:
- National Skills Gap Survey
The National Skills Council (NSC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) in conjunction with other relevant State vocation agencies should work together to conduct a national skills gap survey (this is currently ongoing), to identify specific skill gaps across the country. This survey will be carried out on a State-based basis in order to capture the exact needs and skills shortages, with the aim of designing and promoting demand-based training across the country.
- National Skills Database
A National Skills Database should be set up – to capture TVET skills gaps and all other relevant information acquired during the national skills survey. In addition, the database should be repository for the number of TVET students trained and an inventory for matching TVET graduates with specific industries across the states.
- National Skills Gap Survey
- The State GovernmentThe following is expected from the state government:
- TVET Clusters
Create school clusters (both primary and secondary) to facilitate TVET delivery and easier access to TVET infrastructure across the states. In creating these clusters, we should take into cognizance; the students population, schools proximity, number of schools within each educational district and the economic viability. These clusters will serve as hubs for vocation training across the states.
- Open Bidding
A Request for Proposal (RFP) should be issued for private TVET Service-Providers (TSP) to bid for the clusters created. At this phase, the standard criteria to be met by the TSPs for the successful allocation of TVET clusters will be provided. This process must be open and transparent for this model to succeed.
- Contract and Negotiation
The shortlisted TSPs will enter into negotiation with the state. These negotiations will cover – fees, the terms and conditions of the proposed contract and any other relevant parameters for the successful implementation of this model.
- Monitoring and Evaluation
A transparent and cost-effective monitoring and evaluation framework must be put in place to ensure TSPs comply with the terms and conditions agreed. The key stakeholders in this stage are; Government, NGOs, Press, Parents, Teachers and even the Students themselves. Ultimately, the ability of the state government to facilitate a transparent, monitoring and evaluation model where all stakeholders are vested will be critical to the successful implementation of this model.
- TVET Clusters
- The Private SectorThe following is expected from the private sector:
- Open Bidding
The TSPs will respond to the government issued RFP and they must strive to meet the minimum requirements set by the state. To this extent, some TSPs may need to merge or partner with other TSPs to fulfil the criteria listed in the RFP.
The shortlisted TSPs will need to engage and negotiate acceptable fees, payment structure and other relevant terms and conditions of the proposed contract. This negotiation stage can make or mar this model. The “catch” is being able to come up with a fee structure and payment terms that is reasonable and affordable to both the government and the TSPs – as without such a fee structure, the TSPs will be unable to finance the provision of TVET cluster hubs, facilities, payment of facilitators etc.
The approved TSPs will deploy TVET infrastructure and begin training in their allocated cluster hubs across the states.
- Open Bidding
Making this work
Imagine us doing this! We would have succeeded in providing TVET facilities across the country, created employments for thousands of TVET teachers, empowered thousands of small businesses and also put in place a viable and functioning TVET ecosystem. Although, I have not said much about the private schools, they remain a critical part of our educational system – this same model will work for the private schools as the TSPs can render similar services.
In my next article, I will share my thoughts on the out of school TVET model and also lay important emphasis on the Discipline of Execution.
Till the next time we meet here, remember we all have “A Role to Play”.
Senior Special Assistant to The President
On Education Interventions