AGBOR TECHNICAL COLLEGE: KISSING FAREWELL TO TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Shall we ever
hear the sound of the “Cockcrow” at dawn? Every time, we seem to be drifting
farther from the crow which symbolizes a new dawn; a new beginning. The
preponderance of politicians of Ika extraction in positions of political
leadership should have been a great blessing to all by now after 14 years of
democratic governance. Our “Cocks” have stopped dispensing democratic dividends
and things are no longer what it should be at the (centre of excellence) Agbor
Technical College founded in 1977 by the then Bendel State governor, Dr. Samuel
Ogbemudia.

            Did the governor do wrong by
establishing the school in Agbor? Had the government failed to set up this
institution, our people probably would have cried fowl.

            The year 1977 till date is 36 years
difference. Who are we to blame, we might ask? 36 years in the life of a nation
is no mean feat just as this school was established only 17 years after
independence. Can we rightly say that our forerunners failed to plan for their
progeny? To answer in the affirmative would be unfair for they did what they
could have done and did it very well by establishing a technical school at a
period when technical education was not the vogue. They were futuristic, saw
beyond their nose, beyond the horizon. They knew that in future, our children
would depend on the knowledge from this noble educational institution for
economic independence, advancement and prosperity. Currently,  unemployment is a monster plaguing our
nation, and no one, not even the federal government has been able to arrest its
surge by paying serious attention to technical education.  Technical education no doubt is the pivot of
growth which the Asian Tigers-Thailand, Taiwan, India, China, Malasia among
others, are ridding for economic advancement and political re-engineering to
better the lots of their people. Technical education is the magic wand that
revolutionalized Asia, and this has resulted in domestic and industrial production
of goods and services which trickles down to Nigeria and Ika land in
particular. Almost, almost everything you buy is produced from Asia and from
cottage industries; which is a result of sound technical educational
impartation. In Nigeria, and here in Ika land, we have everything at our beck
and call which makes one to wonder why we keep complaining. We keep complaining
because we are building our nation on outmooded educational philosophy which
cannot put food on the table by using the solutions of yesterday to solve
todays problems. Putting a square peg in a round hole. Understandably, the
reason our leaders are myopic or shortsighted to know that the carnivorous
unemployment level can be tammed only through vigorous deliberate financial
investment in technical education. Deliberate emphasis on what you can produce
with your hands as against just learning anything distant from these is crucial
to growth and development of our young ones. Asian made items in our market
places were produced by young ones with sound technical knowledge and not by
PhD or Masters or 1st degree holders. To the glory of God, we have very
brilliant youths in abundance in our midst but we have jettisoned their God
given talents. There is nothing God has not done for us as a people. The
problem is with us. It is a shame on our part that we are still at the mediocre
level of development and our so called leaders with fantastic degrees are only
succeeding to impoverish and subjugate the God given talents of our youths to
the acquisition of mundane academic qualifications inimical to sustainable
economic existence. Our political leaders are busy chasing shadows; chasing the
wind, forgetting that when you sow the wind you will reap what you saw. 2015 is
around the corner, and everywhere you turn, it is one association or the other
that cannot help our youths to forge ahead economically and which can best be
described as rubbish and an anathema. Can you imagine entering the Agbor
Technical College and the building that stares you in the face is the Obi
Ikechukwu Hall in a state of gross and unpardonable disrepair abandoned over
the years. Our reporters went through the length and breath of the school which
is in a dismal pismal state. We embarked on this mission based on our interest for
the school and its many benefits for industrial growth and human capital
development for our youths who are the future of our society and as 500 of them
learn in this jaggard tattered environment created by years of cumulative malad
leadership and conscienceless administration in a state blessed by God with
abundant natural resources. That our leaders wear suits in airconditioned jeep
cars and drive often through this institution without a pricked conscience is a
proof of wickedness and a slap on the dignity of our young ones to whom
tomorrow belongs. However we salute the principal and staff of the school for
working tirelessly to impart technical education and with enormous constrains.
Constrains of working without tools and in dilapidated buildings with no
windows, roofs and doors. We saw two tattered grounded school buses, abandoned
school projects, insecurity as the institution has no walls leaving them at the
mercy of hoodlums. We salute the humility and large heartedness of the teachers
and the students for learning in such a bad environment. Do they have a choice?
What could they have done anyway? It is a pitiable sight which will make one
weep. The vision of the school stopped in 1980 just as we saw erected steel
structure wasting away under the elements. The school, we gathered used to have
a boarding house which is now on the verge of total collapse. The hostel has
been overgrown by weeds and is now home to undesirable elements. We also saw a
well which is the only source of water for 65 teachers and 500 students. The
college offers skills in Hotel and Catering Management, Woodworks, Auto
Engineering, Painting and Decoration, Welding and Fabrication. These teachers
must have learn’t to bear over the years mastering the condition of the
environment. No good toilet, students and teachers desks are nothing to write
home about and grossly inadequate. 14 years of democratic governance, Agbor
Technical College is at the edge. In a country without jobs, what would the
teachers do? Get angry, abandone their jobs all in the name of infrastructural
deficiency? On their faces could be seen mixed feelings. Joy of being teachers
and discontentment with official negligence. We demanded comments from them but
they weren’t prepared to speak. Who wants to loose his job anyway? Stating the
obvious might put them at logger heads with the powers that be. That shows how
still background we are as a nation when aggrieved people cannot express their
opinions without being victimized.

            We asked the principal, Rev. Dr.
Jude Uwabor what the vision of the school is and this is what he has to say.
“To turn out students that will be self employed and who can fit into the
society behaviourally and skillfully. My vision is for my students to become
better that myself. In my time, I will produce better children who will be well
adjusted because we are focus. Ones the foundation is laid, nobody can cheat
them. If government wants to reduce youth restiveness, they should train our
youths to be useful to themselves and to the society.” From what we saw, even
if the government pumps N10m naira into the college, it will not be enough
because of the level of rut. We actually doubt if the Delta State government
will be ready to turn the captivity of the school around. They seem not
interested in the future of the products of this school. They seem not ready
and if they are, let them prove our people wrong. By now this school should
have been upgraded to a tertiary level. If the Delta State government is willing,
there is an intervention from the World Bank or the Global Partnership for
Education (GPE) on learning materials but not on infrastructure. Even if those
items are brought, where will they be kept. The school has been vandalized for
more than 50 times. If the government is determined, they should wall the
school and provide needed infrastructures even if they have to source for
tools, equipment with World Bank and GPE. According to the principal. “This is
not a community school, we would have asked the community to help.” The
institution has become no man’s land as we saw encroachment everywhere. The
problem with governance in Nigeria is that we have very intellectually
brilliant leaders who do not apply what they were taught in the citadels of learning
to their environment. They went through the school system but the school did
not go through them. Leaders who have conscience that functions to like an
inner witness bearer but do not follow its guardiance. There seems to be no
continuity in this country. When a new government is sworn in, existing
projects are abandoned. Had the governors son or the commissioners daughter
been a student, here, maybe things would have been better. Would it also be out
of place for reputable bodies like the Onu Ika to convey an emergency meeting
of Ika nationalities to deliberate on the state of the school and profer
lasting solutions. Maybe our leaders do not understand how beneficial this
school is to youths of this generation. Building a solid technical foundation
is the answer to a bright future for our youths. Acquiring sound technical
education after university education is like building from the top which is not
ideal in planning. Helping our youths to acquire the right skills to help them
overcome unemployment and lead a more prosperous life should be given serious
attention as unemployment create serious social consequence and it increases
the rate of crime.  

            Reducing unemployment and
aggressively financially investing in sound technical education as a panacea to
unemployment menace should be a top priority of the National Economic
Management team of President Jonathan and the National Board for Technical
Education. The leading economics of the world laid strong importance on
technical education, shouldn’t we.? We can arrest unemployment before the
bubble burst. It might blast sooner than imagined. We hope our drowsy political
leaders will show enough commitment by practically coming to the aid of this
institution. The time to act is now.                                   

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