Lagos - Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday urged the National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Education to take more steps to encourage vocational studies in Nigeria.
The house made the call against the background of the statement of the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufai, that only 520, 000 of the 1.7million candidates who sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) on Saturday would have placement in tertiary institutions,
They assembly men spoke following a motion moved by the Chief Whip, Abdulrazaq Balogun, under matters of urgent public importance.
Balogun said the a comment credited to the minister of education, that more than one million candidates would not get admission because the system could not accommodate them was worrisome.
"The focus on university education should be de-emphasised and acquisition of vocational skills should be encouraged and made more attractive to take away attention from certificates," he said.
Omowunmi Edet (ACN-Oshodi-Isolo II), in her contribution, said it was unfair for the candidates to be put through the stress of enrolling, preparing and writing the examination only to be told that there was no space for them.
"Let us de-emphasise certificates, let us begin to encourage people to acquire skills.
"But if we say we want degrees, we should go all out to protect those who aspire to have it," she said.
Yinka Ogundimu (ACN-Agege II) called on the government to go back to the drawing board and find solution to the problem by encouraging skill acquisition.
Ogundimu said that the present system was capable of frustrating students and worsening the security situation in the country.
Rotimi Olowo, in his contribution called on the government to declare a state of emergency in the education sector.
Lola Akande, Deputy Majority Leader, said that the federal government should increase its funding of the education sector so that more students could be accommodated.
"The skill acquisition centres should be given the necessary recognition," she said.
Also, Yishawu Gbolahan, (ACN-Eti-Osa I) noted that Britain solved the same problem in the 1960s and 1970s by offering degrees in the vocations.
Gbolahan urged the Federal Government to follow laid down policies on education and decried a situation where "a lot of our students are now going to Ghana to school.
"We need to restructure the university system, design and formulate policies to make the education sector work for us; Let us open up the system," Gbolahan said.
The lawmaker called for an education conference where all the issues and problems concerning the education sector would be addressed.
Taiwo Kolawole, the Deputy Speaker, who presided, however, said admissions should be pruned.
"We keep graduating students without jobs", he said.