What Should Be Done To Stop The Spread Of Mushroom Maritime Schools?

 Engr. Oliver Ogbuagu (Fmr. Exec Director Operations; NIMASA)

NBTE is for accreditation, while NIMASA regulates on maritime training institution including MAN Oron in Nigeria in accordance with IMO Model Course syllabus. This is one yet another area NIMASA is negligent in the discharge of their assigned mandates and roles. It is very unfortunate. With the high insecurity in Nigeria, unregulated outfits training idle hands in drills by allegedly dismissed or disgruntled former military personnel, is very unsettling and every effort should be made to stamp such outfits out in its entirety. The Merchant Navy Officers' Associations has done well to bring this issue to the notice of the public and front burner of NIMASA searchlights. Ideally, NIMASA should have a mechanism to monitor what's going on in the entire maritime space of Nigeria offshore, onshore, underwater and on water.

Sampson Chima (Registrar, Nigerian Institute of Shipping)

I believe there is a government policy on ground that deals with accreditation of any institution that wants to award certificates, especially at the Diploma level as far as it is not a professional course, if it is just academic, we have a ministry that takes care of that area which is the Ministry of Education, of which NBTE takes responsibility of giving accreditation to any National Diploma awarding institutions. What government just needs to do, because it is very difficult to stop mushroom academies, most of them are operating based on their registration with Corporate Affairs Commission. Meanwhile there are two approvals that need to be got, first is the CAC, the second one is the accreditation of these courses, some of the schools may have the approval, but they might not be accredited by NIMASA. The issue now is that government needs to put a mechanism in place like a task force, part of the requirement is that if you are running a course, it has a window period or time frame for it to go through accreditation, it is part of the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to checkmate the academic activities within the country. 

Dr. Babatunde Samuel (Registrar, POTEMAN)

The NIMASA should draw out a standard template of curriculum and facility requirements for the establishment of maritime schools. They should equally visit existing ones with the informed mindset of reforming them to world standard without calling for sanction or award of penalty. All Maritime Schools do not fall under the inspection of NIMASA, because of the areas of specialization or coverage. However, we need reform and not penalty.

Dr. Reuben Ovia (Rector Stars Maritime Academy)

In everything, we have regulating bodies, the Federal Ministry of Education is in charge of schools that issue Diplomas and they have a regulatory body that sees to that. Before they approve any school to operate, they go through the school curriculum; there are standards they measure before they give them the go-ahead to start a school. So, it would be wrong for us who are not in charge of such responsibility to start judging a school that has been approved by them, except the school is not approved by them, and then we can report such school to them. Either to close the school or not, because there are standards they checkmate before approval. 

Barrister Margret Orakwusi (Stakeholder)

You know we have regulations in education sector, we have ministry of education. So, the regulators should actually save our children from being victims of all these mushroom schools, it is their duty to ensure that standards are met. So, they should do more and ensure that it happens. I also know that in the maritime sector NIMASA can also be engaged to look into that.

Engineer Matthew Alalade (President, Merchant Navy)

The government gave the academies approval to operate, most of them have the approval, unless they don’t have approval, so it will be difficult for the government to clamp down on them because they were given approval and they started what they were doing. If there is any one operating without approval, the government should be able to impound such schools. It is the work of the government to checkmate mushroom academies, if there are those operating illegally, they should be publicized, let the public know about that.

Mr. John Okpono (Deputy Secretary General, Merchant Navy union) 

The Nigerian population is around 190 million and maritime institutions to the best of my knowledge are not even enough to handle this population. In regular schools, we have private and public, how we check those schools is because they have one common examination which is either WEAC or SSCE, it is the central body that sets exams for all of them. If you are from any of the schools and you didn’t pass the exam, it is assumed that you didn’t pass; nobody will say whether you are from private or public school, they have one examination body for all of them. My union has been advocating to the authorities that  there should be a synergy between NIMASA which has the authority over the basic mandatory, and the NBTE to fine tune and get a common education for this maritime institutions.