The Quality of MET of Ship Officers in Nigeria

1. Introduction

This research study aims to evaluate the quality of MET in Nigeria and also provide recommendations for improvement. By doing so, the research seeks not only to find ways to improve MET within the nautical field, but also to provide support and assistance to other researchers who may want to know more about MET in Nigeria.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) oversee the quality and effectiveness of MET on a global scale but it is the responsibility of individual states to ensure that the minimum standards are met within their respective education facilities. According to the International Maritime Law, every state is required to “establish and maintain an effective and systematic MET system” under their own laws and regulations in accordance with minimum standards and principles recommended by the IMO. However, it is suggested that Nigeria is yet to meet these standards.

The Nigerian maritime sector has seen a huge surge in development and economic growth, presenting new opportunities for both local and foreign enterprises. Unfortunately, this means that the seafaring community in Nigeria has somewhat been left behind. There are very few maritime centres to provide education and seafarers are often forced to travel abroad in order to obtain the minimum qualifications needed for employment.

Marine education and training (MET) is a vital aspect in the maritime industry as it plays a significant role in ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of marine activities worldwide. MET needs to be of the highest standard on an international level as technology and techniques continue to develop. In Nigeria, where the significance of an efficient and fruitful maritime trade is increasingly recognised, MET has to be just that. However, there have been growing concerns within the Nigerian maritime industry in relation to the quality of MET and how MET is actually being transferred to future seafarers.

1.1 Background

Marine education and training (MET) is essential to prepare ship officers for the safe and efficient operation of ships and to ensure the prevention of pollution at sea. Shipping as an international business, and to be effective, regulation and control of shipping must be carried out at the international level in cooperation with every interested maritime country. Therefore, there is a global standard for the education, training, and certification of ship officers. This standard is stipulated in the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1995. As an international convention, it establishes the principle that no party (meaning country) to the convention can, for the purpose of providing maritime education and training or as a condition of employment, discriminate against the maritime training or education of officers from other parties. So the STCW convention ensures that the preparation, certification, and the overall goal of all ship officers from all qualifying countries are the same. However, in Nigeria, it is a big question to ascertain the quality of MET program and practices in many maritime schools and the amount of compliance to the standard of this global standard. Prof. Makanjuola, in the Business Day of 3rd May 2010, indicated that Nigeria has her MET schools offering training programs that are substandard. He further indicated that these schools often employ unqualified foreign instructors as a result of a lack of adequate resources and expertise in the country and encouraged the Nigeria Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to improve the standard of these maritime training institutions by providing proper funding. This call for improvement on the quality of MET practices in Nigeria is also emphasized by Dr. S. O. Emesowum in his article in the Tribune of 24th Nov. 2011. This is because a qualitative and result-oriented maritime sector can only be achieved through an effective regulatory framework in line with the global standards, he said. There are lots of works on the compliance of MET standard in Nigeria, and many of them have identified the challenges and way forward in the Nigeria MET programs. However, none of these studies have systematically attempted to investigate the quality of MET in Nigeria by evaluating such as inputs, process, and output and link them to the global standard in a scientific manner. This study aims to fill that gap.

1.2 Problem Statement

Over the years, Nigeria has witnessed a lot of changes in its educational system. The adoption of the national policy on education notwithstanding, the quality of both maritime education and training has kept on degenerating, and this has given a lot of serious concern to professionals in the industry. The quality of marine education and training is important to safe navigation of ships, prevention of marine pollution, effective maintenance of marine equipment, ensuring safety of life, effective marine casualty management and the provision of greater opportunity for skilled employment for the citizens of maritime nations. The ability of aspiring mariners, deck and engine officers to make the transition effectively from college life into a structured on-board programme can determine a rating’s success or failure and effective mastery in marine studies. The quality of education in academic institutions, coupled with enhanced facilities, personnel and advanced equipment are essential ingredients in achieving and maintaining effective and efficient learning. Moreover, proper funding and better conditions of service for the teaching staff are also important. Unfortunately, the current crop of ship officers who had their education in Nigeria and are now on board vessels are not living up to the expectations of the international maritime employers, mainly because the standard of marine education and training that they received is below the minimum requirement. This could be due to the fact that the whole system is in a state of confused motion. The recent development in the global telecommunication and information technology has revolutionized the process of knowledge dissemination including the development of web-based MET which could be conducted in a distance learning mode, and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in this effort in improving the quality and methods of teaching and learning in the maritime industry. There are already arguments pertaining to Nigeria’s maritime regulatory framework; at one end are those who advocate for the retention of the British maritime law to ensure a stable and effective system that Nigerians are already familiar with while at the other end are those who campaign for a clear break and the adoption of the UN Convention to reflect Nigeria’s status as an independent nation. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has set out international standards of the training, certification and watch-keeping for seafarers. The international convention on the STCW (Standards of Training, certification and Watch-keeping) was designed to ensure that the seafarers are not only taught correctly but also that the skills and knowledge they had obtained are effectively maintained to international standard. Throughout the conventions and protocols introduced by the IMO to which Nigeria is a party, reference is made to the minimum standard and codes to be applied and complied with. A careful examination of the interpretation section of the Nigeria Shipping Decree and International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code show an overwhelming reliance on British statute and British standard and this is the complete opposite of all seafarers’ training and instructional methods preached by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) that Nigeria should make efforts to meet the international minimum requirements in maritime security and other related developments in the shipping industry. The problem is compounded by the system itself. The government through the various ministries and agencies is not able to effectively respond to the need of shifting important policies and mandates towards a safer, secured and internationally competitive maritime sector. Also, there is no meaningful concern or commitment towards encouraging advanced maritime scientific research in marine education amongst academics and industry professionals.

1.3 Objectives

The main objective of this research is to evaluate the quality of marine education and training in Nigeria using the Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) as a reference and to provide recommendations for improvement. The subobjectives are to investigate the modern seafarer training procedure in Nigeria and to know whether such training provides internationally recognized knowledge, understanding, and proficiencies as stated in each of the provisions to the relevant chapter under the STCW convention. Also, to evaluate the extent to which the quality aspects of MET in Nigeria keep pace with new technological and other challenges and to know whether any of these updated challenges have been reflected or incorporated into the training curriculum. The research also aims to find out to what extent the international requirements with regards to the new amendments and that of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) STCW convention have been affecting the standards of seafarer training in Nigeria. The expectation is that this study will not only critically assess the quality of MET provided but also empirically evaluate every possibility of advancing the quality standard; and this could be made possible by recognizing the various challenges that the industry is faced with. Also, this work will be useful to ensure that those responsible for planning and decision making as well as regulatory and professional bodies are based on a detailed understanding of the current and the future quality of MET.

2. Literature Review

Maritime knowledge, skills, and attitudes are imparted to aspiring and practicing ship officers through Maritime Education and Training (MET) that is primarily designed to lead to the acquisition and maintenance of appropriate standards of competence. MET is a highly structured process that focuses on the professional and technical development of the learners. According to Annex I of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (1978) as amended, MET is a combination of theoretical and practical training of seafarers undertaken within maritime educational institutions with a view to give the trainee the necessary knowledge to enable them to work on board ship. The main rationale behind MET is to provide an established, comprehensive and accessible framework within which future seafarers and current professionals alike can be assured that they are contributing to the continuous development of their knowledge and skills. The National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) of Nigeria and the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention for Seafarers (STCW) harbor on the necessity for an effective and efficient MET so as to continually improve and maintain high standards of competence of ship officers. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) mandates member nations to provide seafarers with “approved education and training programmes that are appropriate to the duties candidates are expected to perform” and that “Nations are further required to maintain and promote an effective MET”. However, the standout objective of MET is to ensure safety of life at sea, efficiency and security of ships and the protection of the environment. MET may begin from the basic safety training modules obtained by all seafarers to the different specialist training necessary for different grades of seafarers (i.e. support level, operation level, management level and so on). These different training levels and specialty scope paths are contained in the IMO model courses and advanced specialized training can be approved by NIMASA. Ship officers are required to have an understanding in accident prevention and effective investigation in the course of training in accordance with the STCW Code. In a similar vein, seafarers are expected to know how simple, routine analysis of causes may be carried out and the scope for human error in any kind of investigative process. This is the information and technological age. Modern ships and the equipment used on board, both for propulsion and ship’s management, are becoming more and more ‘technological’. Therefore, STCW requires that “as soon as possible” and in any case no later than 1 January 2017, all navigational officers ‘in charge of a navigational watch’ on ships powered by Global Positioning Systems (GPS) must be trained and examined in the art and use of GPS. The above discussion therefore points to an inevitable requirement for cool and techno-savvy minded ‘jendots’ of shipping, that is, shipping and logistics manager. These set of professionals are involved in steering the labor force and resources on board ships in efficient and productive manner so as to meet the planned schedules and day-to-day running. Trendy management and logistics calls for interdisciplinary skills and knowledge as well as innovative thinking in terms of solutions to the numerous challenges in the shipping business. Creative and industrious Shipping and Logistics Managers are always in high demand in the business world. The Shipping and Logistics Management course designed by the Department of Maritime Management Technology in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology offers students the unique opportunity to broaden their knowledge in all ramifications and issues that border on shipping and its succor business of logistics.

2.1 Definition of MET

Maritime Education and Training (MET) can be defined as a comprehensive and organized method of training and developing the knowledge and skills of the seafaring community. The purpose of MET is to ensure that the knowledge and skills required for safe and efficient operations of various types of ships at the officer level are established, developed, and maintained. In order to achieve the objectives of MET, the training is divided into academic (knowledge-based) training and professional (practical) training. The standards for seafarer training and certification are set by international convention. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Convention STCW, as amended, the minimum standard of qualification for a person is established. Such a person can work on board sea-going vessels included in the Convention. Under this Convention, MET is defined as including not only the submission for approval of the course and program required by the Convention but also the demonstrations by the administration that the institution or organization offering a course is recognized, and that an appropriate syllabus with a course is followed. This approach recognizes the importance of ensuring that the training and assessment of professional competence is properly organized and certified for the purpose of international validation. MET is a lifelong process that is continuously developing, updating, and changing. The process of MET involves the identification of knowledge and skills required for a particular stage of a career at sea, the transmission of these knowledge and skills through a training process, and the assessment of the effectiveness of the training provided. Well-established training provision must include mechanisms for evaluating the standards obtained by course participants and monitoring the effectiveness of the provision itself. The achievement of the standard of knowledge and skill required is demonstrated through a validated assessment of the person trained, leading to the award of a certificate. Such a certificate has international acceptance. It could be a certificate of competence or a certificate of proficiency issued by the appropriate authority recognized by a signatory to the STCW Convention. The requirement for a course to be validated is an essential underpinning of a quality-assured MET. By doing so, the authority issuing the certificate ensures that all conditions for the issue of the certificate have been met when in the case of application for recognition by the authority offering a course of a subsequent course or amendments to an existing course. Also, any conditions laid down in respect of the provision are brought to the notice of the authority. Its emphasis is upon the competence and ability for organized training, proper performance of duties, and the readiness to cope with both normal and emergency situations.

2.2 Importance of MET in the Maritime Industry

Well, the quality of maritime education expressed through formal education and training programs is based on recognized materials, delivering goal-oriented objectives, assessment and measurement processes, and substantive human resources. It emphasizes the development of knowledge and skills, maintains and improves the quality of life, helps make the most of a career or occupation in the maritime area, fosters leadership, involves critical thinking and problem-solving leading to decisions, and results in success measures in terms of effective control processes and resource use.

Today, shipping and the maritime economy face a number of challenges, changes, and opportunities, especially in light of technological advancement and innovation. There is an increasing demand for highly qualified people to meet these challenges and exploit the opportunities. Furthermore, it is recognized that the quality of schooling and the quality of teaching and learning provided within the formal system of maritime education are key factors in the quality and improvement of educational provision. It is also important to understand that formal education and training programs must be based on properly recognized objectives, as suggested by international requirements, and the programs must be developed in accordance with these objectives.

Well, maritime education and training is not only concerned with the metaphysical and material well-being of individuals seeking knowledge and skills in the maritime field, but also emphasizes the development of such knowledge and skills in a responsible way that can essentially impact the safety and security of the marine environment. The preamble of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (cited in Dr. Amanda Cheong) emphasizes the duty to ensure the necessary standards of quality in the training and education of seafarers so that they remain dependent upon the extent to which appropriate resources and facilities are made available. This shows that the quality of maritime education is vital not only to ensure adequate and effective qualifications for maintaining safety at sea through lifelong and further education.

The maritime industry is the backbone of global trade and has been the most prolific industry in the world. It is therefore very important that it meets the requirements of international conventions with respect to the quality of manpower and, accordingly, the quality of maritime education. The quality of maritime education and training is specifically targeted at the development of knowledge, skills, competence, and ability among seafarers, ship officers, and stakeholders. This is important with respect to the implementation of safety management systems and promotes a positive safety culture that leads to overall safety at sea. Since human error is classified as a potential threat to the safety of the marine environment, the concept of continuing professional development is required by the International Maritime Organization in order to encourage lifelong learning and continuing education and experience. However, it is equally important to understand that the quality of maritime education expressed through formal education and training programs must be based on recognized educational materials, and such programs must be maintained and developed in accordance with the objectives.

2.3 Current State of MET in Nigeria

Besides that, the information provided by the department heads at various levels of monitoring and coordination of MET activities seems to be suitable, politically correct, and potentially reflective so that feedback, feed-forward, and any re-engineering initiative can be jeopardized. This indirectly makes it very difficult for top management to make decisions concerning long-term goals and strategic directions and very difficult to establish internal and external customer satisfaction in MET services. Feedbacks and feed-forwards to different changes can be catastrophic and overrun customer satisfaction strategies. This will also impact negatively on the long-term sustainability and improvements for MET services in Nigeria.

Most of the MET institutions in the country have not taken full advantage of automation in teaching and learning processes. The MET sites are not integrated; hence both the monitoring and coordination are done manually. Furthermore, this centralized system of governance used in MET activities monitoring and coordination impacts significantly on effective service delivery and compliance with respect to quality management and service standards. The system also affects the management degrees of freedom as well as employee empowerment and creativity imagination, thereby lowering down the service improvement initiatives. It also leads to inefficient and ineffective management of changes and subsequently harder to implement and attain continuous improvement and accreditation.

The current state of maritime education and training in Nigeria is plagued by numerous challenges and limitations. Maritime education and training is a highly regulated field, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) sets precise standards of training, certification, and watch-keeping for seafarers (STCW) to ensure that everyone who works at sea is professionally qualified to carry out their duties. However, the monitoring and coordination of MET activities of various stakeholders in Nigeria are vested in the shoulders of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Such a centralized management scheme makes all the maritime institutions in Nigeria and the lecturers operate on a certain level of fear in their minds.

2.4 Challenges and Limitations of MET in Nigeria

The challenges and limitations faced by MET in Nigeria are indeed numerous. However, the researcher is of the opinion that all the challenges faced by MET in Nigeria are due to systemic failure. According to Trigwell (2000), challenges and limitations can be seen as those factors that militate against the provision of high quality education and training. Some of these factors can be found on different levels or domains, such as quality of learning and teaching, access to education, quality assurance, governance and management, curriculum, resources, anglophone, technical and vocational education, and professional education. However, challenges and limitations in this study are focused on quality of learning and teaching and governance and management which are seen as the two main domains where challenges and limitations of MET in Nigeria can be identified. The general limitations and challenges which shall be addressed in this study include lack of training vessels, inadequate funding and poor infrastructure, ineffective and incompetent administrators and instructors, and poor policy. Data and information for this study were obtained through collection of qualitative and quantitative research. The researcher employed documental analysis, qualitative and quantitative methods of historical research. The documents used for this research include papers from higher education commission and NIMASA, the STCW, and the publications from the office of maritime administration and safety agency. The study was conducted in two main regions, Lagos and Rivers. It can be explained that data for this study was collected from various sources in the forms of surveys and official records, and subsequently in the course of conducting interviews. The frequency of interviewees and the response rate in all the written questionnaire corresponds to the work of Saunders et al. (2003). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the MET instructors, MAN lecturers, the MET students, the ship crew members, NIMASA and maritime ministry officials. However, limitations with regard to the interviewees are not ignored. According to Gummesson (1988), research findings can be affected by the choice of the people to be interviewed and therefore, the researcher has tried as much as possible to ensure different grades of workers in the maritime industry were interviewed.

3. Methodology

3.1 Research Design

3.2 Data Collection

3.3 Data Analysis

4. Findings and Discussion

4.1 Overview of MET Practices in Nigeria

4.2 Evaluation of MET Quality

4.3 Factors Affecting MET Quality

4.4 Recommendations for Improving MET in Nigeria

Published by
Write essays
View all posts