Technical and Vocation Education which provides new skills for employment is said to be a means for sustainable development.
In Edo State, technical education is said to have been at stake after schools and skills acquisition hubs were left to rot until three years ago when Governor Godwin Obaseki decided to revive technical colleges.
Obaseki also established skills hub in Benin to provide entrepreneurial and vocational training to unemployed youth.
Four schools, namely Benin Technical College (BTC), Igarra Technical College, Afuze Technical College and Uromi Technical College, among others were reportedly falling into despair before the new initiative.
Findings in BTC, now Government Science and Technical College (GSTC) revealed that apart from contending with obsolete workshops and equipment, decaying facilities posed a threat to both teachers and students.
Other technical colleges in the state were not different from the BTC in terms of obsolete machines, bad structures and inadequate teaching staff among others.
The few teachers left in the schools were apparently teaching practical work through abstract thinking as instructional materials were in short supply in addition to lack of subvention for consumables.
It was gathered that the number of personnel, including technical and non-teaching staff, were just 39 in GSTC before Governor Obaseki increased the number to 100.
The BTC was built in 1979, during the administration of late Governor Samuel Ogbemudia in collaboration with the Canadian Government to boost skilled and technical manpower supply.
The school, it was learnt, was planned to transform into a higher institution, College of Technology, but that has not materialised due to neglect by successive governments.
The state government has built two blocks of 24 classrooms and workshops equipped with internet facilities, air conditioners as well as adequate toilets.
Governor Obaseki during the commissioning said: “We have now finished building two new blocks with workshops that will accommodate about 800 students. We now need to move to the old blocks and begin to make them more modern. We are also rebuilding the electrical, mechanical and carpentry workshops. We are introducing plumbing and other trades.”
He added that the state government was in talks with foreign partners for exchange programmes which would make provision for experts to train teachers on technical subjects.
The principal, Onaiwu Frederick Osazuwa, in an interview with journalists said before the refurbishment, there were no tools to train the students.
He said the government has completed two blocks of 22 classrooms and workshops and installed internet facilities among other items that made learning conducive.
He said previous governments have apparently abandoned the school leading to the decay of buildings.
Speaking with our reporter on the school, the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said the state government has made huge investment in the college in its bid to revive technical education in the state.
“This investment includes the procurement of new machines and other equipment. As we speak these equipment are on ground and the first phase of the reorganisation of the college is complete with students being trained.
“Also, in this 21st century, technical education transcends just nails, hammers and lathe machines. We have ICT hub fully equipped with computers and other ICT tools where soft technical skills are being acquired,” he said.
According to him, aside the college, the state government will replicate same in Edo North and Edo South senatorial districts so as to decentralize the training of skilled manpower across the state.
Crusoe explained that teachers were being trained on technical education to be able to deliver up-to-the-minute knowledge to students.
“The state government has servicing agreement with the suppliers of the equipment which includes training the teachers how to use the equipment,” he said.
He said students felt comfortable and respected as well as have a sense of rapport with peers and teachers in a positive environment equipped with top-of-the-range laboratories, libraries and workshops, adding that a new library with modern books and full complement of ICT gadgets was also provided.