THE ROLE OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: A MODEL FOR IKWUANO & ABIA STATE
By Evangelist Abraham N. Osondu(snr)
Education has many contradictions. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to discuss this article or essay without examining some of such contradictions.
Education, according to Albert Einstein, is “what is left after one has forgotten what one has learned from school “. Two other views of Einstein may make us very curious: “The only thing that interferes with my learning is education”. And, “reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking”. The three quotations are very much related, and are true. But for an unbalanced mind, it could be misinterpreted as ‘education impedes learning’. Such an interpretation would certainly be parochial. Einstein brought to our attention the central issue of “curriculum design and implementation, and what the value of education should be”.
Education may be defined as “a purposeful activity directed at achieving certain aims, such as transmitting knowledge or fostering skills and character traits”(Wikipedia). There are three main systems of delivering education: formal education; informal education and non-formal education. A formal education is a structured system that runs from the nursery to the University(including vocational, technical and professional training). Informal education is learning that takes place outside a classroom setting – mainly through real-life experiences, and practical based. On the other hand, non-formal education is mostly community-centred learning: sports clubs; reading groups; debating society; swimming classes; choirs and musical groups.
Judging from the evidence thus far, Technical Education is not another system of education, but an embedded element or component within an education system. Its absence is a sign of failure in ‘curriculum design and implementation’. Technical Education(also referred to as Technical and Vocational Education) may be defined as the academic and vocational preparation of students for jobs involving applied science and modern technology(Britannica). This is the idea behind ‘STEM’ Schools today. It aims:
*to promote general and practical education
*to emphasise the development of technology and vocational skills(directly transferable to employment and or businesses)
*to play a dynamic role in nation building.
Whilst ‘embedded technical and vocational skills’ is important in any education system, it should not be seen as a substitute for the concept of ‘lifelong learning’.
“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it”(Albert Einstein)
“Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive, easy to govern, but impossible to enslave”(Peter Brougham)
“Education opens up the mind, expands it and allows you to improve your life in so many ways”(Henrik Edberg).
Learning is a continuous process, and starts from day one, and continues throughout one’s journey in life(OECD, 1996).
Lifelong learning is closely related to continuous education and continuing professional development, and aims to improve knowledge, skills and competence(Europa, 2003).
Technological advances and globalisation are the two main drivers for learning in any society
Education in a lifelong learning agenda requires us:
* to build an inclusive society – offering equality of opportunities for access to quality learning through life time. This compels education and training provision to be formulated around the necessities and demands of individuals.
* to influence the way in which education and training is delivered. It equally seeks to ensure that knowledge and skills are linked to the constantly changing environment, especially in jobs and occupations.
* to encourage wider participation of everyone in all spheres of public life
The Delores et al report, “Learning The Treasure Within”(1996) identified the four pillars of education in the 21st century as:
– Learning to Know
– Learning to Do
– Learning to Be
– Learning to Live Together
The report stressed on the restoration of knowledge, skills and learning abilities of individuals to relate to the emerging environment. It also highlighted the need for a sound general education from cradle to grave.
Ikwuano, and by extension Abia State, can benefit from the novel ideas discussed here at two main levels: the Senior Secondary School or WAEC level and the introduction of Graduate Vocational Conversion Training in a number of skills areas. This would reduce our graduate unemployment rate.
I was the first to pilot professional accountancy education training in secondary schools in London for students between the ages of 14 to 16 years. It was a partnership programme between the Association of Accounting Technicians in U.K., Stockwell Park High School London and my Consulting Firm(Andy Davidson Associates Limited). The qualification framework has three levels: 2, 3 and level 4. The level 3 is an advanced level qualification, and the level 4 at HND/Degree level. We trained the students to achieve their level 3 before completing their secondary school qualification. This gave them a certificate to go straight into employment or set up book-keeping services for small businesses, and to also complete their level 4 in a further one year study or transfer to any University of their choice. There are other packages in the area of ICT(Information and Communication Technology) and related professions.
It might also be of interest to know that I developed the first Accounting Foundation Degree(A Work Base Learning Degree) in the United Kingdom. It was validated by the London South Bank University and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants(ACCA) in the U. K. The ACCA was so happy with the programme that it granted maximum exemption possible from its professional examinations – with graduates writing only the last four papers to qualify as Chartered Accountants. The details of these programmes cannot be discussed in this article.
I posit that Technical Education is part of lifelong learning agenda, and should be embraced by all lovers of Education.