1.1   Background to the Study

In Nigeria, secondary school curriculum provides both the academic and pre-vocational subjects with the overriding objective of inspiring students with a desire for self-employment and achievement of excellence; and to provide technical knowledge and vocational skills necessary for Agricultural, Industrial, Commercial and Economic development. These goal statements had guided the effort toward the development of new curricula for the secondary education by the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) in pre-vocational subjects which include Agriculture, Business Studies, Home Economics, Computer Education, Fine Arts, Basic Technology and Music (FRN, 2004:20). Thus, the need for vocational skills acquisition among secondary school students cannot be over-emphasized. This is because Vocational Education has clearly been portrayed as a form of education that trains people to acquire skills, knowledge and attitude in chosen occupation at all levels. It is a functional and job oriented form of education.

However, vocational education is regarded as education for work. According to Oriafor (2008), vocational education is designed to develop skills abilities, understanding, attitude, work habits and appreciation that confer knowledge needed to enter and make progress in employment on useful and productive bases. Consequently, more than two decades after the implementation of the federal Government new policy on education, Nigeria is yet to take full advantage of this very important sub-sector. According to Aina (2006), the present state of vocational and technical education calls for a drastic and holistic intervention in order to save it from its present state of anomie.

Accordingly, the philosophy behind the introduction of vocational subjects in schools is that the learner may be self-reliant, that he may be employable in the phase of the menace of unemployment problem prevalent in the society, to train different classes of manpower needed to service or man the various technological sectors of the society. It was on this note that the Federal Government of Nigeria entered into bilateral agreement with Government of various developed countries of the world between late seventies and early eighties during which they trained Nigerian youths at the middle level of technical experience in various technical fields in what was popularly referred to as “crash programmed”. Products of that programmed formed the bulk of the presents day technocrats of Nigeria (Apagu and Duhu, 2010).

Students in vocational and technical school are just in their early adolescent period. A time when a rapid physical, psychological and emotional changes take place in the fledgling students. As they progress, they mature into adult and they became interested in understanding what and who they are. In their values, thinking and plans, they increasingly desire to be independent of their parents from time to time and look up for them for direction. Such students are exposed to variety of school subjects and programmers’. Young people face many of life’s most important decisions in those transition years between the school and the working world. Unfortunately, too many students are unaware of their educational and employment options. More so, the kind of education bequeathed to us by the missionaries and colonialists prepared Nigerians for white collar jobs mainly. The Africans and indeed the Nigerian elites saw education as a means of running away from the otherwise laborious farm work and making to get white collar jobs, the wrong kind of attitude to manual labor and farming was thus created. Therefore, there is no doubt that this negative disposition among adolescents may hamper the realization of the goals and objectives of vocational education if left unchecked. Thus the need for continuous career/vocational guidance remains imperative.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

        The need for adolescents to embrace vocational education to make them self-reliant or prepare them for the world of work has been stressed overtime. The mere articulation of pre-vocational curriculum in junior secondary schools as a means of achieving some of the specific goals identified for secondary education does not ensure the achievement of the purpose. Without the knowledge of students’ the attitude and the level of interest in specific areas of the pre-vocational subjects such as practical Agriculture, the educational process of curriculum implementation may be misdirected or incomplete. Whenever curriculum goals are implemented, there should be a careful analysis and evaluation to appraise the degree of goal attainment. Without empirical investigation ofstudents’ attitude towards the learning of the vocational skill in vocational subjects as may be differentiated by personal interest, there exists little basis for teachers to develop appropriate motivational and instructional strategies to help students achieve the curriculum expectation’s of the different career subjects. There is no doubt that failure of the different career subjects in secondary schools to meet the primary objective of training the adolescents to become self-reliant might be connected with adolescents’ attitude towards the learning of vocational skills.

        It was against the background of helping teachers realize the attitude of adolescents’ towards the learning of vocational skills, addressing different student. Vocational needs and ensuring sound and meaningful learning opportunities for every adolescent to explore their career prospect vis-à-vis vocational skills that this study “Attitude of Adolescents toward the learning of vocational skills in secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area” was conducted.