Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, on Tuesday, said polytechnics should be restructured to prepare students to take greater responsibilities in nation-building.
Aregbesola stated this at a convocation lecture of the Lagos State Polytechnics (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu, Lagos State.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that lecture with the theme: “Infrastructural Deficit and Technological Development in Nigeria: The Role of Technical Education”, was part of activities lined up for the convocation ceremony of the institution.
Aregbesola noted that technical education was the basis of development and wealth condition in any society.
He said: “A lot of the household products we use in this country are imported from China, India and Indonesian cottage industries owned and run by entrepreneurs with technical education.
“Polytechnics were established in Nigeria to provide technical and vocational skills at the middle level of manpower and they are to develop the real nation builders in all vocations, literally the bolt and nut of development”.
According to him, technical education being offered by polytechnics should address primarily the challenges of agricultural production.
“It will help farmers on how to farm competitively and derive maximum yields on a given investment per hectare of land within the parameters of best global practices.
“It will surprise many that Yaba Technical Institute was training healthcare practitioners before the advent of University College Hospital, Ibadan and they were reputed to be as good as any doctor, pharmacist and so on.
“The polytechnics should be training healthcare givers on basic health challenges and they should be good and competent as doctors and pharmacist or non-complicated matters requiring referrals,” he said.
Aregbesola said some universities and polytechnics graduates acquired bland certificates that do not equip the holders with life-sustaining skills, even as they roam the streets looking for jobs and turned down by employers.
The minister added: “Polytechnics complain that their graduates are discriminated by employers, this is self-indicting, employers, besides the public sector are rational actors.
“Graduates of polytechnics should have an advantage over university graduates in the private sector because that are supposed to have received technical and vocational training.
“We find out most of the time that their knowledge and skills are obsolete and even for the promising ones among them, they have to be trained and retrained to be able to fit into a workplace.
“This is where the schools fail their graduates and are this basis of rejection”.
He stressed the need for polytechnics to prepare their students for a competitive job market with indisputable job skills so that employers would find them irresistible.
“The time has come to rethink seriously the polytechnic system in Nigeria by redefining the mission according to the Federal Polytechnics Act of 1979.
Aregbesola advised graduating students not to thread the self-destructive paths of unethical wealth and criminality, adding: “whatever you might have studied in the school is just a starting point, what is more, important is what you make out of it.
“It is most regrettable that the indigenous technology for producing dyes for the textile industry is almost lost as we now import colours for making “Adire cloth”.
“Polytechnic graduates should be able to receive the indigenous dye industry and supply all the colours for our textile industry.
“All these and more are unlimited opportunities for jobs, relevance and professional engagements for our teeming polytechnic graduates but only if they receive the needed training and empowerment along those lines”