In this interview with some journalists, Professor of Educational Evaluation and the registrar/chief executive officer of National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB), Ifeoma Isuigo-Abanihe, explains the activities and challenges of the Board, among others. BODE GBADEBO was there for LEADERSHIP.
How do you intend to make NABTEB Certificate a world-class standard?
We are working very hard to encourage Nigerians to acquire skills certificate because everybody want to go to the universities and acquire higher education and obtain certificate. That is good but without skills, then the dream of Nigeria to be one of the 20 greatest world economies in the world cannot be realised. That is why NABTEB certificate is important. So, one of our major goals is to expand our operations in that direction of National Skills Qualification. Many state governments have applied to us to give certification to their people with Modular Trade Certificate. MTC is a means of encouraging inclusive education for even those on the streets.
Those who do not even attend formal education, they may be doing leather work or catering and mechanical craft. So, modular trade certificate affords them that opportunity. We celebrated our 25th anniversary last year and this year we even want to have a programme like expo for youths and exhibition where some of these things I am mentioning now will be expanded more. Many people did not know about the Nigeria Skills Qualification (NSQ) and Modular Trade Certificate (MTC) but NTC and NBC are well known. We have the advanced certificate, which qualifies our candidates as Advanced Master Craftsmen (AMC). One of the issues we have is that Nigerians don’t understand the benefits of our certificates. So, for me it’s an important objective that by the time I leave NABTEB, our certificates will become household names and people will understand why they need to obtain NABTEB certificates. It is not a local certificate. NABTEB is a world-class institution and it is international and the acceptability of the certificateswill increase.
What are the other challenges being faced by NEABTEB?
We have state offices but many of them are not visible. We are appealing to the lawmakers in the National Assembly to help us incorporate it as part of their constituency projects and develop them.
What about the efficiency of NABTEB trainees?
Our research department is developing a database for our craftsmen who are the products of NABTEB in order to make it possible for the private sector to access and interact with them for the purpose of employing them and giving them grants or loans. We have written letters for collaboration to the financial institutions and some of them have responded. Also, two state governments – Abia and Anambra – have engaged NABTEB to work with them to certify their candidates who are trained in Youth Empowerment Schemes. They trained them on skills and they are working with NABTEB to certify those candidates. We have received invitations to come and do the same in other states. We have the capacity, though we need more staff because of NSQ but at least right now we have staff that can conduct those modular examinations. We have modular examination three times in a year, i.e. March, June and December. We don’t use personnel from outside. We only engage other staff when we want to develop our items. Before I came to NABTEB, my field is educational evaluation and I was a team leader for item writing for Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and a monitor for Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). We bring people to generate and review our items but in terms of conducting and monitoring the examination, we have the staff but we still need more.
What can you say about the public perception of NABTEB certificates?
The fact is that people used to think that vocational education is only for dropouts but we promote inclusive education and access. No certificate should be a dead-end. Everybody should have opportunity to progress. If you say a particular certificate is only for those who are doing menial jobs, you may decide tomorrow that you want to go beyond what you are doing today and nobody should stop you. We added more general subjects to what we used to offer. So, we have the technical and vocational subjects and we also have general education subjects. For instance, the science subjects that NABTEB offered in the past – chemistry, physics and biology – were lumped together but today, in line with requirements of the universities and other tertiary institutions, those subjects are now separated but we still have the trade subjects. Our curriculum is now comprehensive with each of them having trade component. For example, if its computer crafts studies, there are trade related subjects, so it is a broad range of subjects. That is why we are embarking on aggressive campaign for the public to know that NABTEB certificate can be used for any of these and it does not mean that we are promoting it alone, it has all that it needs, the trade subjects and general education subjects, i.e. English Language and Mathematics.
How prepared is NABTEB to undertake the National Skills Qualification (NSQ) examination?
We have started training our people. Our staff have been trained and we are ready. We told our parent ministry that there is a need to train more people and employ more staff for that purpose. We got a request from a training institute that wanted us to come and certify over 4,000 for NSQ and the 4,000 candidates are in different parts of the country. We have to train more people in various states. If the institutions are in the North, then we use the staff located in the North and if it is in the South, we use the staff in the South. NSQ is an expensive venture and is not everybody that can certify them, they have to be trained and you need to have trained accessors, then external verifiers. Luckily in NABTEB we have both accessors and external verifiers and we train both of them.
On validation of curriculum and modern technology?
We are conducting a research to examine how relevant is our curriculum. It’s not just about NABTEB. Our curriculum is developed by NBTE, who is the regulator for vocational skills in Nigeria. We run NBTE curriculum and we are discussing a 10-year plan in Abuja right now and of the objectives of the plan that has to do with the review of the curriculum. Some of the curricula are outdated. Validation of curriculum is one of the tools in which our Minister (of Education) want to use in revamping education. When curriculum is revised, taking the advantage of new technology and there are new traits and I know that NBTE in collaboration with our staff, we have a unit that is in charge of that, have developed many new National Occupation Standards (NOS) and is going on but a lot of funds are required for that.
Can you tell us more about NABTEB?
NABTEB is National Business and Technical Examinations Board and we have 36 state offices all over the country and we have zonal offices. Our main business is to conduct examination and assessment for craftsmen – O’Level examination just like the other examination bodies especially in the area of technical and vocational aspects. We are the Board that certifies craftsmen and our certificates are the National Technical Certificate (NTC) and we also have the NBC which are all equivalent of NECO and WAEC examinations. Our certificates serve dual purposes. The skill certificates are also used for admission into higher institutions. We have other certificates as well but one interesting one I will like to mention is the Modular Trade Certificate (MTC), which is for artisans and for anybody even if it is a university student, who want to have skills qualification. So you have the academic certificate as well as skills qualification. Recently the Minister of Education, Prof. Adamu Adamu, inaugurated the Nigerian Skills Qualification (NSQ) and NABTEB is an awarding body for the NSQ. Our functions have expanded and indeed that is our goal, to become a world-class assessment body for skills qualification and career mobility.
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