VARSITY TRAINING FOR ARTISANS
The authorities of the University of Ibadan (U.I) recently took up the challenge of designing programmes to address real life problems of the society with the introduction of a certificate course for mechanics.
Students admitted for the programme will not be subjected to all manner of tests, assignments and seminars as with regular students. They are restricted to learning new auto-technologies and how to handle them.
The Director, DCL, Professor Francis Egbhokare, said 75 per cent of the work schedule of the new mechanic intakes is practical. They are also not required to have the mandatory five credit passes at the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE) as required for candidates admitted through the Universities and Tertiary Institutions Matriculations Examination (UTME).
The certificate programme involves flexible lecture periods, with lecturers drawn from within and without the university campus. The decision of the University of Ibadan to remedy the dearth of requisite technical skills among mechanics is commendable. It is good that that the institution identified the skills gap among mechanics and decided to bring the town and gown together to correct the problem.
The initiative is particularly timely coming at a period that Nigeria has an army of unemployed persons. Skills development programmes such as this can help to produce much-needed quality personnel for different vocations. The choice of auto-technology for the intervention also indicates an appreciation of the nation's peculiar need in the area. Nigerians' penchant for importation of used cars popularly called 'Tokunbo' is well known. Upgrading the skills of our mechanics in handling of such vehicles will provide respite for their owners. The market for the U.I programme for mechanics is, therefore, wide, as good mechanics will always be in demand.
We suggest that the certificate programme be expanded to include other vocations such as carpentry, hairdressing, agriculture and catering. Other universities should develop similar programmes which can then be incorporated into the poverty alleviation programme of the Federal Government. The National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) can help to finance the programme. It should also form graduates of the vocational programmes into cooperative groups to facilitate acquisition of basic equipment for their work.
The mechanics in this programme should be assisted to acquire modern auto workshop equipment. Everything that they need to establish modern workshops should be availed them. Relevant government agencies should weigh in on this programme. Philanthropists and non-governmental agencies should also collaborate with universities to ensure the success of the initiative. Empowering youths through programmes such as this will go a long way in reducing the spate of armed robbery in the country.
The U.I programme signposts an appreciation of the talents of Nigerian mechanics who, despite having little or no education at all, are able to do so much. It is a revolutionary step in technical services by the university, which if well handled, can take Nigeria to new levels. We applaud this new step forward by U.I and encourage the institution to build upon the new beginning to produce a crop of theoretically sound and technically competent artisans for the benefit of all Nigerians.