How Nigerian Skill Qualifications Framework will improve technical and vocational education

Adamu Adamu, Nigerian Education Minister

The Nigerian Skill Qualifications Framework (NSQF) was launched on Thursday, 15th February 2018 by the Nigerian government to cater for technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

It is a system for the development, classification and recognition of skills, knowledge and competencies acquired by individuals, irrespective of where and how the training or skill was acquired.

The system also gives a clear statement of what the learner must know or be able to do whether the learning took place in a classroom, on the job, or less formally .

At its flag off, the Honorable Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu said the NSQF was done in order to meet some of the key issues of the Muhammadu Buhari-led government’s positive change agenda.

The event which took place at the National Universities Commission (NUC) Auditorium, Abuja attracted dignitaries from within and outside the education sector. Among these, were Adamu’s counterpart in the Water Resources ministry, Sulaiman Adamu Kazaure, Chairman House Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND, Sulaiman Fagge, and the Executive Secretary of the NUC, Abubakar Rasheed and the Executive Secretary, National Board for Technical Education, (NBTE) Mas’ud Kazaure.

The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Ministry of Information, NABTEB, Committee of Chairmen of heads of polytechnic, special assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and others were represented.

Mallam Adamu said that the Federal Ministry of Education would play a key role in the realization of government’s agenda, by strategically placing technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in proper perspective to ensure that the products of TVET institutions perform their roles and meet the aspirations of the Nigerian economy.

The minister added that his ministry had determined the skills gap in the Nigerian educational system in its strategic plan; stressing that the gap made Nigerians graduates non-competitive in the global market, adding that in order to make progress, Nigeria must produce a workforce that was efficiently skilled, highly mobile, adaptable and innovative.

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In order to do that, he said his ministry had elected to promote demand driven TVET instruction, provide increased access and ensure the participation by all stakeholders in both formal and informal sector.

Adamu Adamu clarified that in response to the 21st century worldwide trends and demand for functional competencies, the ministry planned to exploit the TVET potential in order to reduce unemployment, poverty, social vices, improve the quality of life as well as promote peace and democracy in the country.

He said further that, the desire of the present administration was to produce craftsmen, master craftsmen, technicians, technologists and professionals “who do not only possess the required skills and competencies but also thoroughly know and understand” the complexities of scientific and technological world.

Adamu advocated for the structuring of the nation’s technical training and assessment processes to meet the emerging aspirations of a highly competitive changing global economy.

“There was also the need to incorporate the concept of currency in our qualifications and the disintegration of qualification into new and more functional,” he stressed.

In the same vein, the minister, charged the NBTE to look into, identify, classify and provide a model for ensuring quality assurance and standardisation of unbranded trades in Nigeria.

Malam Adamu Adamu also said that the policy direction of the ministry was to identify, and look closely into all challenges facing TVET in Nigeria and develop ways and means of overcoming them.

Speaking on the qualifications framework, Adamu said that the ministry would through the office of the Head of Service of the Federation, incorporate the qualifications from the NSQF into the scheme of service for the federation.

“Towards this end, the ministry will re-kit and reposition NBTE and all other technical and technological institutions to squarely face the challenges of the future,” he assured.

The NBTE boss, Dr Kazaure in his speech said, the nation’s skills development challenges started immediately after the third National Development Plan, “when emphasis was shifted from competency to paper qualification.”

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This, he said, resulted in a disconnection of industries with academic programmes where assessment and evaluation processes remain largely “theoretical” and the concept of dignity of labour disappeared and society looked-down upon people running blue collar jobs.

He noted that the training provided at the non-formal setting with positive contribution to the economy, was not coordinated, standardised or regulated and had brought about large skills gaps and mismatch of curricula.

Dr Kazaure said that it was for the above reasons and many others that NBTE in partnerships with stakeholder commenced the drive for the institutionalisation of the NSQF.

He described NSQF as a system for the development, classification, and recognition of skills, knowledge and competencies acquired by individuals, irrespective of location, mode or type of training.

The system gives a clear statement of what the learner must know or be able to do whether learning took place in classroom, on the job or less formerly, he explained.

The framework indicates the comparability of different qualification and how one can progress from one level to another. The system recognises skills and competencies and places them from lower to higher levels, in order of hierarchical complexity.

He said the framework was the structure within which the National Skills Qualification (NSQ) operated, adding that it aimed at promoting lifelong learning and provided quality assurance and recognition for competencies acquired in the formal, non-formal and informal sectors of the economy.

According to the Executive Secretary, the objective to be achieved by establishing the framework were to provide policy guidelines on organizing skills training to improve product quality, productivity and competitiveness in both the formal and informal sectors.

“The other objective is to provide a coherent structure for vocational qualifications which are based on employment- led standards of competence,” he said.

Kazaure gave some of the key components to be pursued as provision of a system for the recognition of competencies acquired in the non-formal and formal sectors of our economy; increase industry ownership of the trainee-ship system which enhances stakeholder input to major decisions; expansion of training opportunities so that they could be evenly spread across the workforce meeting the needs of all enterprises more equitably; facilitation of access to, mobility and progression within educational training and career paths; and the provision of a policy framework for flexible curricula based on National Occupational Standard (NOS) dictated by the industry.
Others are the determination of the level of award, which enable clear routes of progression, and appropriate awards, which relate to employment; determination of convenient systems for recognition of prior learning and expand access to education particularly lifelong learning; provision of a system for up skilling and re-skilling of Nigerian youth and working adult; and introduction of a system of competency-based assessment thereby reducing examination malpractice and certificate racketeering.

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He further explained that the Training should be industry –focused, through partnership (link) between the training providers, the industries and enterprises they served and that training should be provided where it was needed, whether on the job, at home or in a formal training institution.

“Curriculum should be flexible and delivered in a range of settings, presented in a modular form so as to provide close direction to the learner and trainer/facilitator,” he stated.

He also added that training should be competency-based so that employers could have good understanding on what prospective employees could do and there should be a consistent system of certification which guaranteed quality, as well as transportability of skills that would eliminate or reduces unemployment.

It is hoped that proper implementation of the NSQF would improve the gains in technical and vocational education.

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