The Impact of Vocational Skills and Technical Empowerment in Human Development in Nigeria

27th October 2022

1. About the person

Obiora Ike (www.obioraike.com) is a Catholic priest of the Enugu Diocese, ordained on 4 July 1981.

Currently CEO of Globethics Geneva, with United Nations ECOSOC Status. Globethics is an international Foundation focused on integrating Ethics in Education, society, politics and the economy across sectors for a better world founded on values.

2. The role of Education in the evangelisation of cultures and Human Development and its impact on Nigeria

Education is at the centre of every human settlement. There is no society without Education. Education stands at the basis of culture to transmit value, tradition, history, religion, knowledge, skills, and integral development to the people.

Evangelisation which is the mission of Jesus Christ to bring the good news of salvation to all humankind, is sustained in his spirit by his successors throughout the ages past, present and future. It is realised using the tools of Education to teach, train, mentor and guide agents and recipients of this Good News.

Educators are at the forefront of forming people, especially the young, who need a compass in life to navigate the larger space of the universe with some orientation founded on values, virtues, skills and knowledge.

Through Education, the realisation of meaning and purpose in society is enabled, and beneficiaries are empowered to gain access to opportunities, resources and power which the world offers. The future of humanity rests on the critical discovery that there can be no meaningful and sustainable development without ethics and its integration into all societal platforms.

In Nigeria, Education has been richly transmitted through Christian mission schools for the past 150 years. This has resulted in many positive and impactful results for the beneficiaries of our many villages, towns and Christian communities.

Missionary education enabled access to literacy in a globalising world which hastened the fight against poverty, hunger and disease.

Education generally enables knowledge of the world around us and has granted the beneficiaries some ability to join an ever-growing international and modern age. People can access the various tools and resources that translate to economic, social, political and intellectual benefits for the community through the means of Education.

Education with skills acquisition has indeed helped the emergence of the Nigerian people into a global society - open - without boundaries, and - leading to transversal benefits. This is the legacy we have received in Eastern Nigeria and the advantage of membership in the Catholicity of the Christian family redeemed by Jesus Christ.

3. Can Vocational/Technical Skills Education play a role in people's human empowerment and development?

Yes. Vocational skills and technical education refer to a range of training and the acquisition of knowledge for productive purposes obtained in practical and theoretical training over time. It is learning by doing that resonates with positive experiences gained throughout history in various cultures. These training and skills can play a very positive role in people's overall human empowerment and development.

4. Can Vocational/Technical Skills in Development play a role in promoting "good" cultural values in Nigeria?

Yes, Vocational and Technical training in the skills of development play a critical role in cultural values.

Let me speak shortly to the theme of culture. Culture is generally defined as the way of life of a people. It expresses itself in work and lifestyles, belief systems and technology, music and art and indeed in aspects of the life of a people.

Culture gives meaning to people's life experiences expressed through religion, philosophy, history and traditions transmitted from one generation to the next.

Cultural values, such as in our African villages and Igboland of Nigeria particularly, are built around the principles promoting life. LIFE IS THE CENTRAL THEME of our culture - NDU BU ISI.

Thus the centrality of the family is protected and promoted in Igbo culture.

Culture deals with the utility of communal and social values through solidarity, the practice of sharing, the virtues of hard work and acknowledgement of the divine in the human milieu.

Igbo cultural and traditional values promote virtues and values of patience, truth, unity, peace, trust, responsibility, sharing, belief in God, transcendence and life after death.

These cultural values are expressed through works of art and skills and technology that are performed by humans at each stage to drive development. This is the basis for vocational education, as we have at Olu Aka Di Mma Centre - VTTC Enugu.

5. Is the denial of adequate access to educational empowerment and skills to women due to their gender not a contradiction to the open society people are striving to create?

The answer is yes. Any discrimination of human beings based on gender, class, religion, colour, race, or other factors is condemned by the charter and covenants and constitutions of most nations of the world. Indeed the universal Declaration on Human Rights of the United Nations makes gender discrimination a serious breach of its conventions.

Gender discrimination is also a contradiction of the Christian vision of the world based on the biblical revelations, which ground Christian faith on sound reason, faith and the universal truths that guide humanity.

The Book of Genesis records that God made humans at creation "male and female" and mandated them to "Subject the earth and fill the earth and take responsibility for all creation" (Genesis chapter 1.26 ff).

6. What is the impact of the Olu Aka Di Mma Vocational Skills and Technical Centre in the Enugu Diocese?

Olu Aka di Mma Vocational Technical Centre initiated and founded by Msgr Obiora Ike in 1995 with the approval and Blessing of the Bishop of Enugu, Most Rev Michael Ugwu Eneja (RIP), took off complete activities in 1997 with the approved license of the Government of Enugu State of Nigeria.

In almost three decades of its existence, the centre has been supported by various international nongovernmental agencies, including the Catholic agency Misereor Germany, FIDESCO under Mr Hugo Oelz and the Government of Vorarlberg, Austria, The European Union Brussels, the Rhein Donau Foundation Cologne, Germany and many others institutions.

We have data showing that 1,000 youth have been trained during these years through VTTC. And most of them have full employment, skills, and jobs and are even entrepreneurs employing and teaching others.

VTTC has created departments to empower youths in electrical, welding, mechanical, automobile and building construction areas. These apprentices even produce solar energy panels.

The impact of the Olu Aka di mma centre in Enugu is beyond words. We prefer to remain modest with our impact as the results are better experienced than described. VTTC supports youth with entrepreneurship education and skills. It helps them build values in their personal lives, thereby contributing to a virtuous and productive society and the overall common good.

The VTTC prepares young people to start families of the future with employment that makes them feed themselves and sustain their families. It is the practice of self-help as the best help, and God helps those who help themselves and corresponds to the social and ethical principle and practice of subsidiarity.

VTTC impacts society with a Christian presence in the world of work, the vocation of creativity, by participation in the creative work of God and supporting Nigeria with a contribution to the National Gross domestic product.

7. Any advice to the Nigerian political elite as we enter the 2023 elections and expectations for political change in governance?

Future leaders have challenges to serve the common good by keeping to the oath they swore to serve and protect the overall interest of all Nigerians.

We pray for them and wish that credible leadership emerges in free, peaceful and fair elections within a democratic framework in Nigeria.

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