History of TVET in Nigeria

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” -David McCullough

A Yoruba woman in the Nigerian town of Owo, Ondo State, weaving on her upright single-heddle loom, in front an apprentice practices on a smaller cloth, 2001.

Nigeria has a great history in almost every sphere of life; war, education, technology, art, culture, and so on. It is just unfortunate many of us have no knowledge of it. As an integral part of the culture of the Nigerian peoples, Education and training has always taken place for the younger generation to provide knowledge and skills for self reliance and communal development.

Weaver teaches her apprentices.

TVeT(Technical and Vocational Education and Training) is education and training which provides knowledge and skills for employment. Throughout the course of history, various terms have been used to describe elements of the field that are now conceived as comprising TVeT. These include: Apprenticeship Training, Vocational Education, Technical Education, Technical-Vocational Education (TVE), Occupational Education (OE), Vocational Education and Training (VET), etc.  Read more here.

Using the Yoruba Culture as point of focus, we are going focus on Apprenticeship Training which was and still is an integral part of the “Nigerian culture”.
Apprenticeship was the Yoruba people’s form of TVeT, whatever trade was learned was termed ISE OWO (hand work). The trade often spanned from semi-skilled to skilled jobs which often used farm produce as raw materials for the production of everyday commodity. For example, Thatch makers who also made and sold baskets, mats got their materials from the Raffia fibres.

Finding an OGA (Master) was often done within the extended family. The OMO ISE (apprentice) was often a young adult needed to be inculcated into the labour market and a relative of the Oga. In recent times the Oga may not necessarily be a relative. Incoming apprentices were expected to pay a certain sum and bring gifts to the Oga and his in-training Omo Ise’s. This was seen as a mark of respect, the Yoruba’s core value.
The educational policy used was the “watch and learn” policy. Some Oga’s wouldn’t even answer questions except in few cases. Unlike recent TVeT, the Oga wouldn’t just give training on skills but also on character and personality. The Oga became a father figure for the system.

After learning for the agreed period of time, the Oga may retain the Omo Ise If the OMO ISE finds favour in the Oga’s eyes or the OMO ISE will GBA OMINIRA (graduate or gain FREEDOM). This is often celebrated with family and friends. Then the OMO ISE will be given some tools from his Oga to start up his/her own business. This is just the Yoruba, others people in Nigeria had and still have and practice their own form of  TVeT. For example the Igbos and Hausas use this same system. Watch this  TED research.

Cobbler watches while his apprentice makes a shoe.

Apprenticeship in Nigeria has functioned as an Educational system that imparts knowledge, skill and judgment, not just as a process but as an art. It is also one of the major principles holding the Nigerian economy. The fact that SKILLS are learnt and new businesses are created because every apprentice is required to start up his/her own business has proven the system’s efficiency. Apprenticeship in Nigeria is regarded as the largest incubation system in the world.As said in a previous paragraph, the Apprenticeship system was involved with semi-skilled to skilled jobs which brought in little but stable income, was a key part of the economy employing a lot of youth. In recent years, the Apprenticeship system, still strongly practiced, employs a very large percentage of the youth population of Nigeria, which is the majority of the population anyways. Almost every youth is an apprentice or a Master.

The system is now broader delving into businesses that were not conceived in times past. It is practiced in every industry especially the Fashion, Media and Entertainment industries and electronics.


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