With Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
The proposed commissioning of the International Vocational, Training and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC) is heartening, given the fact it is a project that is long overdue.
IVTEC is a pioneering technical and vocational education model initiated by the Kwara State Government. It has taken years for this dream to come to fruition. It even seemed the state government foot dragged over the project for a while and at some point there were speculation that the project had been abandoned by the present government of Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed. Some Kwarans had even expressed fears that the present administration had its hands in many pies and may not be able to bring into reality its infrastructural development aspiration.
The commissioning is coming on the heels of the installation of modern equipment and tools installed at the college for the five pioneering departments of the institution last week.
The departments are Masonry and Carpentry, Automotive, Electrical and Electronics, Welding, as well as Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning.
Stakeholders are crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘I’s to ensure smooth take off of the school, which informed the inspection visit by the Governor to the college over the weekend. Even, the state Commissioner of Education and Human Capital Development, Alhaji Musa Yeketi, who had a fractured leg bone was there on crutches to ‘tidy up’ for the planned commission. This is highly commendable. In addition, the state government must be lauded for its huge investment on the project.
This development will go a long way in lending credence to the present administration’s determination to deliver on its mandate of taking the state to greater pedestal through various projects and programmes that could impact on the socioeconomic wellbeing of the people vis-à-vis boost state economy.
Undoubtedly, vocational training at the college will help bridge the widening gap between the demand and supply for skilled manpower across various industries in the state and beyond. It is common knowledge that shortage of skills has translated into unemployment among an increasing number of graduates who pass out every year and are forced to be re-trained in order to become marketable. Incontrovertibly, IVTEC will produce skilled artisans and entrepreneurs that will contribute to the development of the state and country in general.
According to the Chairman, Board of IVTEC, Professor Adimula, the school would produce highly skilled middle-level manpower, adding that the vocational centre would help reduce crime rate in the state as it will provide opportunity for youths to develop themselves and acquire market relevant skills that will make them productive.
“The College management is working on creating synergy with tertiary institutions in Kwara such as the University of Ilorin, Kwara State University, Kwara Polytechnic as well as technical schools within the state.
“IVTEC will also be a good training ground for tertiary institution students to acquire relevant skills as most universities in the country cannot boast of the facilities available at IVTEC,” he added.
The college, according to the state government is a charitable non-governmental educational institution (NGOGO) with a vision to promote inclusive human capital development.
It is therefore cheering that state government is partnering with the World Bank under its Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) programme to sponsor first set of students of IVTEC.
This is to afford interested youths from less privileged families access to training at the college. The prospective beneficiaries are expected to be selected across the 16 local government areas of the state as contained in the YESSO database.
However, while celebrating this feat, there are salient issues that the state government must address in order to sustain this laudable initiative for socio-economic development of the state. One of these is the appointment of a rector for the college. Quite unfortunate is the abrupt resignation of the former American rector, Dr. Kay Daeges, an expert in vocational training who has wealth of experience and knowledge from which IVTEC could gain immensely from. For the state to achieve a world standard vocational school in all ramifications, the appointment of the administrative head must not be politicised. The state government must source for best hand for the job. The appointment must be devoid of sentiments be it politics, religious or ethnic. Merit must be considered in filling the vacuum created by the exit of the former rector. What the institution needs to outlive future successive administrations is a rector with high level of dedication who is dynamic and innovative with proven target driven orientation.
Another issue is funding. The state government must also ensure it puts the institution on a strong financial footing for its sustainability. Though, the financial structure of IVTEC is said to allow for an array of partnerships and collaborations with individuals, business and industry from within and outside Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the state Governor must as well ensure the completion of all the projects embarked upon by his administration before the expiration of his tenure in 2019 for benefit of the people and development of the state.
It should live to expectation by fulfilling its promise of infrastructural development of the state.
The state government must not renege on its promise of committing 70 per cent of its 2018 budget to capital expenditure, with the aim of ensuring that all ongoing projects across the state are brought to completion. It is by so doing that the present administration can etch its ‘name’ on the minds of Kwarans for good.