One of the major reasons there are so many idle hands in Nigeria is as a result of misconception. People pay too much attention to bad impressions on so many things that could get them busy and as well paid. Some occupations are seen as belonging to illiterates, semi- literates and uncivilised individuals. The Nigerian traditional apprenticeship system also suffers from these misconceptions. It is against this backdrop that it is worthwhile to give explicit explanation on the apprenticeship system in Nigeria.
Generally, apprenticeship is a system by which a person placed under the supervision of a master with the sole aim of learning a trade, business or a craft for a set period of time and under set conditions. In this system, the person that is under the supervision of a master is known as an apprentice. It is a form of workplace learning which enables the apprentice to have on-the-job training.
THE ORIGIN OF APPRENTICESHIP IN NIGERIA
Nigeria had its own educational system before the arrival of the colonial masters. Through this system, the rich cultures and traditions of the Nigerian societies were transmitted from generations to generations. One of the major characteristics of the traditional Nigerian education was the apprenticeship system of learning by which people learn under masters. This was an informal form of acquiring skills in a trade or craft.
The traditional apprenticeship system has some common features with the modern educational system: there is an agreed time for training, graduation ceremony comes after the completion of training where materials and equipments will be given to the person to start their own trade or vocation. etc.
UNDERSTANDING THE TRADITIONAL NIGERIAN APPRENTICESHIP SYSTEM
The Nigerian traditional apprenticeship system is in many forms according to different cultures and traditions. The two well known tribes in traditional apprenticeship in Nigeria are the Igbos and Yorubas.
The Igbo system is an arrangement where a young individual is put under an ‘oga’ (boss) for tutelage so that the person can get exposed to the rudiments, practices and skills required for a particular trade or vocation. At the completion of learning, the boss establishes the apprentice. Usually, in the Igbo form, the boss provides for the shelter of the apprentice.
Under the Yoruba form of apprenticeship, there is an agreement between the parent of the apprentice and the boss which puts the apprentice under the supervision of the master-craftsman for a specific time and under certain conditions for the purpose of acquiring skills required for a trade or craft. In this system, the apprentice lives with the parents or wards during the period of training.
As time goes by, people shift attention from one vocation to another with regards to trend and present value of the sorted vocation neglecting the relevance of such vocation in the future. In my subsequent posts, we would look at various vocations that could be learnt as an apprentice and how relevant they are in today’s society and their prospects.