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PROJECT TOPIC- MECHANISMS FOR ENHANCING THE COMPETENCIES OF BUILDING TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION STUDENTS IN UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA

PROJECT TOPIC- MECHANISMS FOR ENHANCING THE COMPETENCIES OF BUILDING TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION STUDENTS IN UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA

Abstract

This study focused on Mechanisms for enhancing the competencies of the building technology education students in the universities in South East Nigeria as solution to the persistent problems of craftsmanship in the building industry. Seven purposes of study were formulated for this study. In line with these purposes of study, seven research questions guided the study. The study adopted survey research design. The area of the study is
South East Nigeria, with concentration on Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu States, these are states in the zone that offer building technology education programmes at their univesities. The population for the study is made up of 82 respondents who comprised 45 building technology teachers in the technical colleges, 25 third and final year building technology education students and 12 building technology education lecturers in the universities.
The population was not sampled because of the smallness. Structured questionnaire (instrument) with 165 items were employed for data collection. The instrument for data collection was validated by five experts from Imo State University and Federal University of Technology Owerri. The reliability of the instrument was obtained by single administration of the instrument to group of respondents from Akwa Ibom technical colleges and University of Uyo. The reliability coefficient was calculated with Cronbach Alpha which yielded internal consistency for the entire instrument as alpha 0.85. Total of 82 questionnaire copies were administered to respondents in their various institutions with the help of three research assistants who worked with the researcher. And a total of 75 questionnaires which represented 92% were collected back for analyses. The data collected were analyzed with mean and standard deviation in relation to the research questions. The results of study identified that 26 mechanism cluster of upgraded building production academic programme (X 4.01 ), 22 items in cluster of adequately managed human resources
(X 4.11 ), 21 items in cluster of value adding regular staff capacity building system (3.97), 22 items in cluster of adequately maintained structures with functional system support (4.14), 21 cluster of improved funding system (4.28), 20 items in cluster of Information Communication Technology (ICTs) compliant programme (4.03) and 25 items in cluster of adequate work site current technology updated facilities (4.22) were accepted
as mechanisms for enhancing the competencies of the building technology education students in the universities. However, the study showed that a cluster of adequately managed human resources (3.21) one items in cluster of adequately maintained structure (2.53) five items in cluster of improved funding system (2.80) and one items in cluster of updated facilities (2.9) were not accepted as mechanism that will enhance the desired competencies.
The hypotheses tested at 0.05 level of significance had all the calculated F-ratio were less than the table F ratio. The hypotheses of no significant differences on the mean rating of the three groups of respondents on mechanisms for enhancing the competencies of the building technology education students in the universities were upheld. From the major findings, recommendations such as inclusion of practical courses, increasing programme duration from four to five years, updating of curricula, ensuring adequate staffing; admit qualified students, ensure ICT compliant programme to students through new practical computer building drawing courses, provision of sufficient updated structures and facilities
were made. Finally, suggestions for further research on the study were equally included.

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Building serves as shelter to humanity. Shelter occupies top ranking after food and before clothing in the list of basic necessities of life and in the hierarchy of human needs dependent on the prevalent competencies. Competencies are the guiding principles of productivity that had stimulated the development of the built environment to bungalows, upstairs, edifices, multi-storeys, sky scrapers, ports, stadia, highways, bridges, dams etc by the construction industry team of professionals, skilled craftsmen (blue pc rints dream realizers) and their facilitators (teachers, instructors
or lecturers). The above progress necessitated clamours and intensification of energy on the development of competencies globally.

The competencies that had transformed the built environment to residential, commercial and industrial buildings plus other engineering structures in various countries had depended on the levels of competence of the professional and sub-professioal operatives.
According to Snowflake (2008) competence is closely related to the level of proficiency at what some one does. It involves the quality of being adequately or well qualified physically and intellectually for a job or occupation. In another contribution, Lorriman, Young and Kalinauckas (1995) referred to competence as efficient, effective and proper application of skills based on appropriate knowledge and attitudes.

 They added that competence should be measureable in a useful way and be described by active verbs showing actions such as to operate, procure, plan, maintain, design, report, specify, construct, evaluate etc. In the light of the above views, the bases for efficiency and productivity remain competencies.
Consulting (2008) wrote that competencies are broad based concepts which embodied all aspects of various technical and task components which are readily observable as to facilitate performance in occupations.They added that competencies include the abilities to use knowledge, understanding, practical and thinking skills to perform effectively to national or international standards required in employment.
Consulting concluded that competencies should compose of from two to seven elemental skills as key competency clusters that enable the learner to achieve mastery in occupations at the completion of a training programme.
The overriding importance of competencies necessitated the elaboration of core competencies by Wikippedia (2007) as areas of specialized expertise that result in harmonized complex stream of technology and work activities which take various forms like technical/subject matter know how, a reliable process and or interrelationship between members of an institution.
In today’s world the potential of any work force will fully be realized only through systematic balancing between short and long term competency programmes and technical and non technical competencies. The balancing of one aspect of competency against the other will serve as indicators to level of competencies in the system such as: (1) Performance below the acceptable standard of competence, (2) performance at acceptable standard of competence, (3) performance above acceptable standard of competence.

PROJECT TOPIC- MECHANISMS FOR ENHANCING THE COMPETENCIES OF BUILDING TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION STUDENTS IN UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA

Attaining higher levels of competencies can only be through developmental programmes. Lorriman et al (1995) stressed that a person can only become competent through development of competence by multi-way partinership to position the individual as a missionary learner, the teachers/educators as facilitators and the training environment as organized institutions. They recommended that development for technology competencies should be of five years training period based on forward view of real needs strategies to simplify processes and reduce waste. Lorriman et al concluded that effective competence development system should operate in the context of total learning system with the experts passing competencies to those in needs, since competence development frame work depends on the ability to pass skills onto others.
Competencies in this study are those attributes which enable the application of skills, knowledge and attitude in the performance of technical task in occupations or professions. These attributes that result in high level man power which required long term training duration will always be successful if acquired from the tertiary education institutions such as universities and colleges.
University could be said to be a tertiary education institution where high level man power is produced for the development of the society. It is an institute of higher learning statutorily empowered to develop competencies of the under graduate and higher degree students. According to Collins (2002) university is an educational institution designed for instruction, examination or both for graduation of students in many branches of advanced learning. 

The building technology education students acquire their competencies which equip them as graduate technical teachers from the universities. The training of building technology education students in West Africa first started with the establishment of Vocational Teacher Education Department University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1962. Other Universities such as Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Enugu State
University of Science and Technolgy and Ebonyi State University Abakaliki presently offer building technology education programme in South-East Nigeria.
Education programme is said to be field of human endeavour designed to meet the needs of individuals/society and advance the course of humanity. Cobb (1988) stated that the ultimate goal of an educational programme centers on human growth and continuity. University programmes are guided or controlled by policies which are frame works that spelt out the goals of education system with expected
means of accomplishment. According to Olaniyi (1998) educational policy is a set of decisions taken by a group concerning their educational goals and the methods of attaining them.
University programmes are controlled by the policy agencies such as Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) responsible for the conduct of unified matriculation examination for Senior Secondary School Certicficate or National Technical Certificate holders as preservice candidates for admission. Though, recent development had added post JAMB aptitude tests of the universities as final conditions for admissions (JAMB 2006; Guardian 2006). On the other hand, in service candidates admissions into the universities are done through the direct entry programme policies (Osuala, 1999). The National Universities Commission (NUC) is another agency empowered by law to formulate policies for university programmes at both first and higher degree levels. The NUC set minimum standards for first degree programmes and covers such areas like space requirements, library, offices, lecture rooms and laboratory accommodations.
This is in addition to specifying minimum staff student ratio for effective learning and teaching, minimum workshop and laboratory facilities, and academic programme as the curricula with the stated minimum course content in each degree programme. This is in addition to accreditation and reaccreditation of approved programmes.

The NUC recommendations are elaborated as: staff/student ratio of 1:20 for technological education, conducive psychological, physical and social learning environment, with adequate instructional spaces and facilities crucial for effective learning. Concluding that Nigeria adopted unified curricular as a academic programme which calls for flexibility of interpretations and instructional strategy of relevance made applicable to individual, local, and national needs; all tailored towards solving the societal problems (Eke, 2002).

The approved programmes are handed over to the universities with the academic course content as embodiment of the curricular and other key components to facilitate the realization of set goals. The curriculum is broken into courses arranged in semesters and assigned credit hours by the university`s departments. The minimum standard could be improved upon where necessary (Emeribe, 2006). Okebukola (2010) study showed that core courses that must be passed regard less of the university the students attend are specified as part of this minimum academic standard (curricular content). Most universities adopt the minimum with the claim that what is regarded as minimum is loaded enough to be maximum and NUC has taken steps to continually update minimum academic standards in response to national and global development.
Many universities in South-East and Nigeria in general, based on subsisting policies run building technology education programmes for pre-service students for four years and for the in service students from two to three years for the award of first degree of Vocational Teacher Education Certificate.

The building technology education programme core courses constituted the technical competencies required for building production/maintenance combined with pedagogical skills which equip teachers to train craftsmen in the technical colleges and other technical institutions. The Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Education Bulletin (2001) showed the four years building technology education academic programme to include: sixteen education courses, thirteen General Study courses (GS), eleven Vocational education courses, five related technical courses and fourteen core building technology courses. The above which totaled fifty nine courses had teaching practice and research project at the final year as aspects of education courses.
These courses which are NUC unified curricula that emanate as minimum academic standard are therefore applicable to all building technology education programme in South East and other Nigerian Universities. National Education Research Development Council (NERDC) (2004) stated that teaching and learning of various technological courses and related pedagogy should be combined with mandatory Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES).

At the completion of the four year programme and after the fulfillment of all the condition required by the universities, first degree is awarded to the recipient found worthy in both character and learning as graduates in building technology education as technical teacher. Delandsheere (1987) stressed that the concern of development of competencies are neither not passing of examination nor certification, rather they should center on productive capacities of the student teachers to perform tasks in the occupations they are trained on.

Therefore, the ultimate goals of occupational or professional education such as building technology education are the level of functionality of the products after graduation. Similarly, Brown and Atkins (1988) added that university education should equip professionals in technology education such as building technology education students with core competencies like theoretical, drafting, computation, management and practical competencies. These competencies they said should be combined with mentoring or coaching that should transform to problem solving and development of skilled manpower in occupations / professions for the economy.
The above implied that the building technology education students on graduation should therefore be competent in building production covering mastery in preparation, purchase or supply of construction materials, designing/preparation of working drawings, preliminary site operations, setting out of buildings, concreting, building services, carpentry and joinery, general construction/finishing work and maintenance.
This should be coupled with estimating/preparation of bill of quantities, electrical installation work, making of structural drawing, building surveying, landscaping, internal decoration etc.

With the above building production capabilities enabled by the competencies from university programme, the building technology education graduates should be able to train skilled craftsmen in the technical colleges.
Technical colleges are regarded in Nigeria as principal vocational institutions which give full vocational training intended to prepare students for entry into various occupations. These are done by training of craftsmen in building trades and other occupations for three years for the relevant industries. Oranu (1998) wrote that it will be recalled that the trade centers were changed to technical colleges in the late 1970s and the institutions now admit holders of junior secondary school certificate who are trained for three years to obtain National Technical Certificate (NTC) in various trades/occupations.

The building technology students after graduation and as employed teachers should instruct crafts subjects to technical college students like: introduction to building construction, brick/blocklaying, concreting, building drawing, wall/floor and ceiling finishing, painting and decorating, plumbing/piping, wood work machine, carpentry/joinery and workshop practicals (National Business and Technical
Examination Board, 2007).
The building technology teachers through their acquired competencies should be able to instruct the above building subjects in the technical colleges to higher lev6 el of proficiencies. Obiegbu (2002) pointed out that instructors of technical institutions should be very vast in technical skills to the levels of the master craftsmen of the old who were able to train skilled craftsmen in construction occupations with limited facilities at their disposal through the traditional methods called action learning.
The will be skilled craftsmen should be so prepared in the technical colleges to the extent that they will pass their crafts examinations of National Technical Certificate examination and be able to perform tasks in the construction industry without retraining.
This is because old institutions like Public Work Department, Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigeria Railway Corporation no longer train and retrain skilled craftsmen for the nation, Obiegbu concluded.
Unfortunately, recent developments had indicated that the technical colleges are not meeting the challenges of training the expected craftsmen for the building industry which scholars blamed the non possession of competencies by the building technology education products from the universities. Studies by Dabalen, Oni and Adekola (2000) indicated that public and private employers believed that university graduates and indeed other higher institution products are poorly trained and unproductive on the job especially in communication and technical competencies. Even
Willington cited in Dangana (2002) had questioned the functionalities of schooling since universities were not providing the necessary technical competencies in occupations relevant for productivity in the world of work.
The above structural failures of our tertiary institutions to supply the quality of man power desirable for development were justified by Saint, Hartnett and Strassner (2003) views that the university system is characterized by resume falsification, plagiarism, cheating, examination malfeasance, sexual harassment, contract kick backs and forceful purchase of professional lecture notes by students. Others, they added
are menance of students gang starism, cult practices, examination misconduct, arm robbery, inadequate staffing worsen by rising workload, high death rate from assassination, kidnapping, disease or sickness like stroke, high blood pressure, heart attack or failure, HIV and AIDS. Others they said include commercialization of recruitment/ promotion of staff and students selection not based on merit.
It is worthy of note that the building technology education academic staff are grossly inadequate, each of these building technology education lecturers in Universities in South-East Nigeria, handles under graduate programme, post graduate diploma, master’s and doctorate degrees programmes. They supervise projects, teaching practice and industrial attachment. Most of these lecturers are involved in many other institutions on full time, part time or as adjunt lecturers.

They even serve as resource persons at capacity building training programmes. This is in addition to publishing to avoid perishing. Too much work load instead of promoting efficiency or effectiveness cause sickness, death and lower output as earlier pointed by scholars. Other factors that had inhibited competencies of the building technology education students include curricula/academic programme with too many education/GS courses without practical courses. Also included are poor funding, inadequate infrastructure and ineffective ICT application.
The negative effects of the above are that universities graduate building technology education students with out the competencies to produce skilled craftsmen in the technical colleges for the construction industry.

Many stakeholders in the industry fore saw eminent disaster to these unhealthy developments. According to Bamisili (2004) there had not been sufficient serious formal trained skilled craftsmen in Nigeria for sustaining the construction industry. The few available ones are of average age of 45-50years. He lamented that if care is not taken in the next ten years skilled craftsmen of real worth would have gone into extinction. Similarly Ogunbiyi (2004) contended that information from various construction sites indicated that the standards of craftsmanship in the construction industry had degenerated in quality and availability to the extent that most of the skilled craftsmen in Nigeria today are either from Ghana, Togo or Republic of Benin. A situation which he said could lead to insecurity and uncertainties.
The failure of the technical college to produce skilled craftsmen due to the in competencies of the building technology graduate teachers had remained unhealthy and led to destabilization of the construction industry. Towe (1998) stressed that reports from national examination bodies indicated that for many years running the nations technical college products had not passed national technical certificate examinations
that should qualify them as craftsmen.

Since the training situations of various technical education programmes had not been replica of working environment, the graduates had always required retraining to make them functional and productive in their workplaces (Fafunwa cited in Okparaeke, 2006). To this end, Ajator (2004) revealed that the dwindled quality and quantity of craftsmanship has so adversely affected the productivity in the construction industry to the extent that the nation has recorded trillions of naira losses to poorly executed contracts, collapsed
building structures, work site accidents, wastage of materials, damages to tools/equipment, high labour procurement cost and delayed or abandoned projects. 
This Ajator maintained, is in addition to deprivation of other socio-economic benefits  derivable from good housing project delivery. The after effects of the above down turn in the construction industry which if uncontrolled will paralyze the 21st century development strides of the Nigeria built environments which will be more detrimental on the south-east geopolitical zone discribed as one of the fastest growing economies
in sub-saharan Africa (Ejiofor, 2002). According to Utulu (2010) the people of South East are among the three majorities and most influenced ethnic group in Nigeria with majority of them speaking Igbo language.

This area was involved in the 1967 to 1970 bloody Nigeria – Biafra civil war. Utulu added that after the civil war Igbo land was devastated with many schools, hospitals, industries and homes completely destroyed.
Many decades after the war, Igboland had remained in the rebuilding processes till this day. The above processes are very essential for her to regain the past economic prosperity of urbanization and industrialization necessitating rapid infrastructure development, Utulu concluded.
The construction industry could hardly meet construction development needs of South East Nigeria due to poor craftsmanship that had been blamed on deficiencies of the technical teachers by bookmakers.

Federal Ministry of Education (FME) (2000) admitted that the elements of buildingcore courses of technology education programmes ran by few Nigerian Universities are defective and that the processes of implementation of the programme are of questionable quality. These elements according to various literatures include: curricula/academic programme with too many non core technical courses with out practical work and short programme duration, Human resources that are inadequate and poorly managed, the staff capacity building system detered by lack of human and other resources, structures and system supports that are inadequate, dilapidated and unmaintianed, funding System suffering from insufficiency and appropriation problem, programmes that are not I.C.T compliant and facilities inadequacy and not replica of those used in the work site (Faison, 1996; Delandsheere, 1987; Enemeli, 1998; Jinadu, 2000; Onweh, 2006).
On a general note the elements of the building technology education programme of the universities as reviewed are characterized by structural defects which are perhaps responsible for the inability of the products to meet the set goal of training skilled craftsmen for the building industry in the technical colleges. The components or elements of the building technology education programme used in the universities in the context of this study should therefore be transformed if the system is to be repositioned.
However, Osuala (1987) stressed on the need for restructuring Nigerian university programme in order to fulfill the occupational/education needs of the individuals and the nation. The implication of this emphasis indicates that the building technology education programme being run in the universities is defective.

Efforts made to improve the qualities of the building technology education students in the universities in the past had only yielded marginal results. Obiegbu (2002) observed that effort of the Federal Government to enhance competencies in technical occupations through training led to the establishment of Industrial Training Fund (ITF) by decree No 47 of 1971. He decried that the body instead of involving in post educational institution training to improve competencies of manpower, ITF had only ended up funding of industrial attachment programme for students in the tertiary institutions.
Other efforts to enhance competencies of building technology education students include; various state governments being involved in the mass recruitment of technology lecturers from foreign countries into Nigeria. The Federal Government offered employment to technology expatriate staff from abroad and the training of technical educators overseas (Akpan, 1997).

Akpan equally added that the various governments had regularly granted bursary and scholar-ship to technical education students in the universities to encourage intelligent candidates to enlist in the programme.
This is in addition to the provision of facilities and establishment of more institutions Akpan (1997) concluded. Also reports from World Bank (1991) indicated that the use of various education technologies such as video tape technology, hard wares, software, and other advance technologies such as computer assisted designs or instructions to impart complex manipulative skills had only tried to save cost but had failed to enhance significantly the competencies of the building technology education students in the universities.
The failure of the above remedial measures to enhance the competencies of the building technology teachers indicated that all attempts to produce competent building technology education students who after graduation should train skilled craftsmen that will function without retraining had been very difficult.

Alternative solution had therefore become imperative if the construction industry is to be saved from extinction.
For the building industry to be repositioned to meet the infrastructure needs of the nations developmental goals of globalization and industrialization and if the successful implementation of the national strategies to meet the goal of shelter for all in the year 2015 and beyond is to be achieved, trained skilled craftsmen must be available to the required extent (Fajuyitan, 2006).

Onweh (2006) concurred that there should be competent building technology education students who after graduation from the universities should be master craftsmen with the ability to perform productive tasks in the various aspects of building construction. They should be able to, he continued, use the competencies acquired and possessed to train skilled craftsmen who will not require retraining to upgrade the economy through meeting the infrastructure needs.

Could the building technology education programme of the universities which the elements had been faulted by many scholars as characterized with many structural defects achieve these feats? Farrant (1982) stated that there should be innovation when the educational system or elements of the programme failed to meet the aims and objectives of individuals, the needs or expectations of the society and unable to reflect the changing technological trends. Innovation is the generational acceptance and implementation of new ideas, process, products or services. There is need through constant revisions to identify innovative practices which are characterized by newness and qualitative differentiation from the existing forms or situations in order to transform the system to known best practices. (Thompson cited in Adesua,1988).
Since the elements of the building technology education programme of the universities had been said to be of substandard which could be responsible for the inability of their products (building technology teachers) to train skilled craftsmen in the technical colleges for the building industry, these elements should therefore be subjected to innovations.

Okebukola (2010) recommended that technology education programmes of the Nigerian universities should be subjected to innovations for transformation of competencies of the graduates through improvement in teaching of English Language to improve literary and communication skills of graduates, gearing towards addressing our unique problems and needs by responding to global trend, reviving reading culture through the production of books and journals instead of handouts, integrating Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) and entrepreneurial education into the curricula, restructuring university technology curricula to imbue students with practical and analytical skills; incorporating into university technology curricula professional ethics and technical components to closely link theory with the world of work and providing technologically updated facilities for teaching of practical courses.

Furthermore, Okebukola posited that more attention should be paid to training of academic staff (teachers, instructors and lecturers) on content material development and proper mode of delivery to produce competent graduates, who in return will ensure the achievement of set goals in the nation’s technology education system.
Innovations in the context of this study will necessitate strategies or conventions which will entrench desirable changes. These innovations if adopted will serve as mechanisms for enhancing the competencies of the building technology education students in the universities for transformation. Mechanism according to Tradenaked (2008) is the logical assembling of components, elements or parts and the associated
energy and information flow that enables a machine, process, or system to achieve the intended or desired results. It added that mechanisms involve combining or marshalling resources for efficient and effective use in the achievement of set goals. Olaitan, (1996) further stressed that mechanism seeks ways of enhancing the quality and quantity of manpower production in technical education.
Mechanisms in the context of this study are combination of components which enable the system to achieve the desired results. These mechanisms should be development into clusters (mechanism clusters) that will tackle craftsmanpower problems of the construction industry through the building technology education programme of the universties. The identified mechanisms will aim at enhancing the
competencies of the building technology education students in the universities. Enhancing means increasing or further improving the good quality, value or status of bsomething (Hornby, 2000).

Similarly, Kirkpatrick (1987) said that enhancing entails uplifting, or turning for the better or even changing the system for good. The enhancing as it applies to this study is to device strategies aimed at transforming the system
to be better than the prevailing situations. This study therefore is aimed at adoption of the innovative elements of the building technology education programme as mechanisms for enhancing the competencies of the building technology education students in the universities. This is with the ultimate aim of graduating building technology education students in the universities as competent technical teachers who will
be able to train skilled craftsmen for the construction industry.

Statement of the Problem

PROJECT TOPIC- MECHANISMS FOR ENHANCING THE COMPETENCIES OF BUILDING TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION STUDENTS IN UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA

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