This paper examines the problems and prospects of career education inbuilt into the Nigeria 6-3-3-4 system of education.The 6-3-3-4 system of educationwas regarded as a great innovation because it help develop studentspotential to the fullest, deemphasized mere academic education, popularized vocational education and uses career education\guidance to help students embrace careers which agrees with their ability and interest. Guidance to more rewarding careers begins from primary and terminates at the tertiary levels.The policy provisions for career education were variously described as a mere wishful thinking without the needed supports for its survival. Even with the slight adjustment on the curriculumof the secondary school level which came into operation as from year 2012, career exploration and orientation expected at this level is said to be a mirage. To redress the situation this paper offered useful suggestionsneeded to help achieve career education/guidance objectives at the four levels of Nigeria education.
Career education asa concept according to Ochiagha (1995) embraces the basic goal of education which seeks to point out the relationship between education and work. In career education, the effort is to help individuals acquire and utilize knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to make work more meaningful, productive and satisfying part of living. This attempt helps individual’s in their career development, in making vocational choice and in developing positive attitude to work.
According to Hohenshil and Miles (1979) career education and guidance help students in:
- Developing positive self-concept;
- Understanding himself better ;
- Acquiringrelevant educational and occupational information;
- Making career decision and
- Implementing decision taken regarding career choice.
Thus both career education and career guidance assist individual to move smoothly from school to work. Career guidance according to Okon (1986) help student in understanding his abilities, interest and values. This strategy no doubt help student to have wider career knowledge,knowledge of oneself, skills and knowledge required to hold and to progress in an occupation.
The 6-3-3-4 system of education for the first time in Nigeria is made to concerned itself with the career decision making of students.The journey to a more rewarding career is planned to begin from primary and ends in tertiary education levels. The four phases of career education| guidance in the 6-3-3-4 system of education are as follows:
6 years Primary education- career awareness
3 years junior secondary education- career exploration
3 years senior secondary education- career orientation
4 years Tertiary education- career specialization
Prospects and Problems of Career Awareness in the 6 years Primary Education
Primary education marked the first phase of career preparation of pupils. This type of education in the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) (2004) National Policy on Education is education for children aged normally 6 to 11+. The rest of education system is built upon primary education. Therefore, primary level is regarded as the key to the success or failure of the whole system. Education at this level is geared towards helping pupils becoming aware of viable careers of national and individual interest. To lay the foundation for career awareness at this level instructions are directed at developing:
- Permanent literacy and numeracy, and the ability to communicate effectively;
- Citizenship education for national building;
- The ability to understand technological changes.
According to Okon (1986) career awareness in primary schools help:
- Pupils to understand himself or herself in term of interests, abilities and skills;
- Pupils to develop skills needed for decision making and problem solving and
- Inform pupils about viable careers; develop a healthy attitude toward work and a respect for work performed in the society.
In spite of the importance attached to career awareness at these level separate studies (Azeez, 2010; Okon, 1986 &Adedibu, 1986) have shown that:
- Primary schools in Nigeria are ill-equipped to provide any meaningful career awareness to pupils. Suitable textbooks, equipment and libraries are inadequately provided and qualified teachers expected to improve learning and teaching process are inadequately provided.
- The teachers are made to cope with too many pupils’ in class as the prescribed ratio of 1:40 is always exceeded in most of the schools.
- Most teachers in this level lacked basic competence required of them to function effectively.
- Hand works needed to create sufficient career awareness were found to be less emphasis due to lack of training materials.
- Most primary schools lacks functional counseling unit therefore career guidance is found to be left to peer and parental influence.
- Education at this level is yet to be made compulsory (basic) because many potential primary candidates still roams about with no means of attending primary schools.
Prospects and Problems of Career Exploration in the 3 Years Junior Secondary Schools
Junior secondarymarked the second phase of career preparation.This level of education in the FRN (2004) is education children received after three years primary education.it is regarded as the first phase of secondary education which is of three years duration. At this level students are given an exploratory introduction into several broad occupations. Instructions in this level include theory and practical| laboratory works. Haven achieved desirable career awareness in primary level children are given opportunity to explore various career options for interest arousal in one. Education at this level is regarded pre-vocational and directed at helping student explore different career options. Integrated curriculums used at this level help students to explore viable career options. To further aid exploration processes curriculum at this level is structured as: core subjects; pre-vocational subjects and non-vocational electives (see the National Policy on Education for detail).
Specifically subjects like basic technology, basic sciences, social studies and general mathematics uses integrated curriculum and gave unrestricted opportunities to students to explore viable career options. As an illustration basic technology subject integrates subjects like technical drawing, electrical, wood tech, metal tech and others which allowed students to explore various career options for interest arousal in one.
Without this exploratory period it is believed that students may settle for an occupation which they are not mentally and emotional suited for, changing career later will be painful and wasteful because of the time and resources wasted (Azeez, 2010).
Career exploration at the JSS level according to findings of some studies (Azeez, 2010; Adedibu, 1986; Okon, 1986) is hampered because of:
- Poor training facilities in schools, most especially for the teaching and learning of basic technology and basic sciences subjects. For instance integrated workshops and laboratories which are essential for effective teaching of basic technology\sciences are found to be lacking in most of the schools and where such exist they are found to be poorly equipped and maintained;
- Poorly qualified teachers;
- Lack of field trip to complement what is taught in class;
- Lack of and sometimes insufficient training materials to support any meaningful workshops and laboratories works.
Prospects and Problems of Career Orientation in the 3 Years Senior Secondary Schools
Phase three of career education program is regarded as the vocational phase where students select and explore one cluster or broad occupational group in great detail. At this stage student may acquire some specialized skills. Emphasis here is on assisting each student to acquire the skills and knowledge that are required for employment in a specific occupation. Students also take science and arts courses which would enable him continue their studies beyond secondary school should they want to do so. This level of education is regarded in FRN (2004) as a 3 years education children received after junior secondary education and before the tertiary education. The senior secondary school curriculum is designed to be comprehensive enough so as to broaden children knowledge and outlook.
In order to orientate students towards a particular career having gone through exploratory experiences in the JSS level, children are exposed to both core-curriculum and electives. This exposure enables students to offer either arts or science in line with their ability and interest. To make senior secondary school immediately employable, technical, commercial and other vocational courses were made part of this level curriculum.
Every student at this level is expected to take all the core subjects and to select 3 electives depending on the choice of his career. This is done with a view to orientate students towards science, technology or art in line with student interest, ability and values.
Major flaws identify with the senior secondary schools education delivery which hindered effective orientation towards a career that agrees with student make-up includes:
- Training provided to students cannot guarantee immediate employment as suggested in the National Policy on Education;
- Training resources (human and material) provided cannot guarantee sufficient orientation towards a particular career;
- Enough funds are not available to cater for the needs of secondary education;
- Guidance and counseling unit in most of the schools are not functional enough as students career choice still depend on peer and parental influence;
- In-service needed to boost teachers competence are scarcely available and
- Teachers are made to cope with too many students in class above the prescribed ratio of 1:30.
Prospects and Problems of Career Specialization in the 4 years Higher Education
Higher education is referred to in the FRN (2004) as 4 years educational system at the post-secondary section which is given in universities, polytechnics, colleges of technology, colleges of education and allied colleges. The teaching and research which this level is expected to focus on have an important role to play in national development particularly in development of high level manpower within the context of the needs of the economy.
As a way of ensuring career specialization at this level of education, course content is made to reflect students and national needs. To meet these needs consultation is encouraged between the higher education institutions, the employers and the government. With this attempt training is made to be broad based, strong, scientific and specifically geared towards:
- Producing a practical persons;
- Exposure to the environment in which graduates will eventually work. This is accomplished through Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES), field trip and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which are used to bridge gaps between theory and practice;
- Research works and
- Exposure to the latest professional techniques.
In-spite of all the aforementioned moves, higher education delivery in Nigeria has been identified with deficiencies hindering career specialization of students such as:
- Insufficient funds to support meaningful teaching and learning, research activities and training facilities;
- Limited opportunities existed in Nigeria tertiary institutions to provide unhindered access to qualified candidates;
- Gab still exist in the education provided in schools and the reality of the actual work;
- Student are not adequately guided to obtain all the information needed for effective career specialization;
- Funds available are most a times misappropriated or wrongly used and
- Counseling unit in most of the institutions only existed by names and does not necessary help in building career prospects of students.
- Greater percentage of educational expenditure are not devoted to science and technology;
- The ratio of science to liberal arts students still exceeded the prescribed 60:40;
- Unhindered access are not given to candidates that can benefit from higher education and
- Scholarship and loans are scarcely provided to assist indigent but bright students to gain access to higher education anywhere in the world, provided the institution is accredited for the course;