International Journal of
Vocational and Technical Education

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Voc. Tech. Educ.
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJVTE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 105

Full Length Research Paper

Repositioning technical and vocational education toward eradicating unemployment in Nigeria

Olajide, Sunday Emmanuel
  • Olajide, Sunday Emmanuel
  • Department of Estate Management, Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti. Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 20 November 2013
  •  Accepted: 30 June 2015
  •  Published: 31 July 2015


The problem of unemployment in Nigeria, especially among the youths has been variously expressed to be alarming if not endemic. As a result of this, various recommendations had been proffered toward ameliorating the menace unfortunately to no avail. Hence, the essence of this research work is to examine the repositioning of Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) as a panacea to unemployment in Nigeria. Data were sourced through primary and secondary means - use of structured questionnaire, review of necessary literature, direct interview with Stakeholders in Technical and Vocational Education. Purposive sampling method was adopted in which those that matter in TVE in Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti were interviewed. 100 sets of questionnaire were administered. Five (5) each were administered in each academic office within the campus. Result of findings showed that the original intention of Vocational and Technical Education had been distorted, hence the need for a sincere repositioning in the area of adequate funding, infrastructural development, human capital development, educational policy restructuring toward skill acquisition, research development, and the need to reposition the regulatory body (NBTE) among others.

Key words: Education, eradication, Nigeria, repositioning, technical, unemployment, vocational.


Nigeria has been variously described as a nation that is endowed with multifarious and multitudinous resources – both human and material. However, due to gross mismanagement, profligate spending, kleptomania and adverse policies of various governments of Nigeria, these resources have not been optimally utilized; these resources have not been adequately channelled to profitable investments to bring about maximum economic benefits. As a result of  the  foregoing,  Nigeria  has  been bedeviled with unemployment and poverty (Iwayemi, 2013). These have in some cases led to fall in national output, high level dependence ratio and low standard of living – a great multitude of people in Nigeria live in abject misery (Osinubi, 2005). Furthermore, unemployment has led to tremendous increase in criminal activities and social vices in Nigeria. Also, unemployment and poverty are potential sources of political instability in Nigeria for disenchanted, disgruntled and revolutionary elements  in the society (Anyanwu and Oaikhenan, 1995). Economic growth, which is supposed to be a solution to the problem of unemployment, appears not to be so in Nigeria.

Essentially, as per the report of the World Bank, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product)at purchasing power parity of Nigeria was $180.7 billion during 2008. Unemployment in Nigeria has resulted in more and more people who do not have purchasing power. Less consumption has led to lower production and economic growth has been hampered. Unemployment also has social consequences as it increases the rate of crime. The secondary school graduates consist of the principal fraction of the unemployed accounting for nearly 35% to 50%. The rate of unemployment within the age group of 20 and 24 years is 40% and between 15 and 19 years, it is 31% (Economic Watch, 2010).

In another perspective, unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 23.90 percent in 2011 from 21.10 as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics. From 2006 until 2011, Nigeria unemployment rate averaged 14.6 percent reaching an all-time high of 23.9 percent in December 2011 and a record low of 5.3 percent in December 2006. In Nigeria, the employment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force (Trading Economies, 2013).

Consequent to the above, successive governments had made frantic efforts in instituting policies and programmes towards ameliorating if not eradicating unemployment in Nigeria – all to no avail. Hence, this paper is presented to look into repositioning Technical and Vocational Education as a Panacea to unemployment saga in Nigeria.

It is in this respect that this study finds it worthwhile to address the following questions in order to do justice to the subject matter. First, why are Nigerians suffering in the midst of plenty? Secondly, if other growing economies especially in the Asian continent are flourishing in the area of entrepreneurship, why can’t Nigeria do likewise, if not better? Third, if Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is well positioned, can it serve as panacea to unemployment in Nigeria? The scope of this paper is defined by these questions.


According to Odukoya (2009), the importance of Education to the general well-being of mankind cannot be overemphasized. Education as he perceives is a fundamental human right. He further explains that the relationship between education and development had been established, such that education is now internationally accepted as a key development index. It is in recognition of this importance that the international community and governments  all  over  the  world  have made commitments for their citizens to have access to education. Also Odukoya (2009) went memory lane, that over the years, Nigeria has expressed a commitment to education with the belief that overcoming illiteracy and ignorance will form a basis for accelerated national development. He noted, however that regardless of the incontrovertible evidence that education is crucial to the development of the community and the nation, there remains inequalities in access to education. Also, he reiterated that despite its potential for leveling opportunities, education is pathetically used to perpetrate inequalities. Millions according to him of the poor people are still being excluded from the processes and outcomes of Education. In order to improve the level of educational system in Nigeria, Odukoya (2009) recommended improved policy onInformation and Communication Technology(ICT), the need for good understanding of the process of policy formulation, the need for political lobbying and advocacy in order to solve logistic problem and bureaucratic bottlenecks; implementation of the policy on Teachers’ Registration Council, dire need for a new system of education, improved policy on Science and Technology; harmonization of the differential remunerations for graduates of Polytechnics and Universities among others.

Chukumerije (2011) submitted that Technical and Vocational Education remains the only imperative for economic development in Nigeria. He appraised different effects and policies towards economic development but all to no avail. He however identified some reasons for the desultory performance to include inadequate infrastructure and facilities, serious dearth of academic staff with cognate practical experience relevant for the training of students to the meet the contemporary needs of industry and employers, wide disconnection between institutions and industry, weak support by industries to institutions’ programmes, inadequate budgetary provision for TVET, absence of a National Qualifications framework and inadequate regulatory and monitoring activities among others. He however proffered some coping measures which include re-definition of status of occupational training, rule of law, Basic and Secondary Education, restructuring of tertiary Education, and need for improved budgetary allocation to the TVET in Nigeria (Olabode et. al. 2010).

Adeyemi and Uko-Aviomoh (2004) argued for academic manpower development policy towards effective Technological Delivery in the Nigerian Polytechnics. They confirmed acute shortage of academic manpower in the Nigerian Polytechnics. This is shown in Table 1.

Table 1 shows the trend in student enrolment and Teaching Staff between 1993 and 2000. The table reveals that the annual average percentage growth of 10.75 for student enrolment is higher than that of teaching staff, which is 7.3%. This is an indication of academic mismatch (Osahon, 1997).




Table 2 presents a huge shortfall for the years, ranging from 5,373 teachers for 1993/94 to 11,932 teachers for 1999/2000. In all the years, the shortfall is higher than the actual. This observation should be a serious concern to educational managers. Table 2 shows a huge shortfall for the years, ranging from 5,373 teachers for 1993/94 to 11,932 teachers for 1999/2000. In all the years, the shortfall is higher than the actual. This observation should be a serious concern to educational managers. 



Moemeka (2013) opined that the status and rating of nations today in the League of Nations is dependent on the capacity to meet domestic needs of citizens as positing products in the global marketplace. He believes that innovation in Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) occupies important place in ability of nations to achieve this. He therefore advocates needed   innovations in the curriculum of technical and vocational institutions through an integrations of entrepreneurship education programme. Suggestions for improvement in the entrepreneurship qualities of Technical and Vocational graduates were also proffered.

Essentially, unemployment may apply to any factor of production but in most cases it applies to labour as a factor of production. In a general sense, unemployment is defined as a state of joblessness. But this definition is too wide to be satisfactory because many categories of people who are without work should not be classified as “unemployment” in any meaningful sense. For instance, various labour codes prescribe lower and upper age limits for the labour force (those who can be legitimately regarded as either working or available for work). This implies that those who are below the lower limit or above the upper limit are regarded as falling outside the labour force. And when such people are without work, even though they may be willing and able to work, they do not feature in unemployment statistics. Even within the accepted age limits there are people who should not be regarded as “unemployed” even though they may be ‘idle’, these include those who are physically and/or mentally handicapped – such as cripples and lunatics or imbeciles – full time students and trainees, and housewives  who  devote  all  their  time  entirely to taking care of their homes. Another major problem encountered in the definition of unemployment is the determination of the minimum period of idleness that qualifies a person to be classified as ‘unemployed’. Usually, in labour force surveys, people who are without work during the reference period varies from one to two days in some countries, to one week and even to three months in other countries. However, the general requirement is that for people to be regarded as unemployed, they must be actively seeking for work (Falae, 1971; Osinubi, 2005).

Notwithstanding the above arguments, Jhingan (1996) defines unemployment as “involuntary idleness of a person willing to work at the prevailing rate of pay but unable to find it”. This implies that voluntarily unemployed people, who do not want to work and those who are not prepared to work at the prevailing wage rate are not to be regarded as unemployed.

Anyanwu and Onikhenan (1995) observed that during the early days of the development of unemployment theory much controversy was created around the distinction between “voluntary” and “involuntary” un-employment. Even the conceptualization of these classes of unemployment has been a source of dispute. However, voluntary unemployment is said to exist when people choose not to work or accept job, for which they are qualified to do, at the prevailing wage rate and conditions perhaps because they have means of living other than employment. Involuntary unemployment, on the other hand exists when people cannot get job even if they are willing to accept lower real wages or poorer conditions than workers of the same or similar qualification who are currently in employment. Despite the difficulties of measurement and the setting of standard with regard to the foregoing classification, the taxonomy of unemployment include a condition of “being out of job”, an activity of “searching for job”, an attitude of “desiring a job under certain conditions” and “the need for a job” (Thatcher, 1966 cited in Okigbo, 1980).

Fajana (2000) and Standing (1983) opined that unemployment can be described as the state of worklessness experienced by persons who are members of the labour force who perceived themselves and are perceived by others as capable of work. Unemployed people can be categorized into those who have never worked after graduation from the university and those who and those who have lost their jobs thereby seeking re-entry into labour market. However, most of the previous studies on unemployment especially among the youths in developing countries (Falae, 1971; Diejomaoh, 1979; Shadare and Elegbede, 2012) have tended to ignore the special case of the university graduates that are first time job seekers.

Nwachukwu (2012) reported that Nigeria’s unemployment rate increased to 23 percent in 2011 compared with 21.1 percent in 2010 and 19.7 percent in 2009 as  revealed  by  the  National  Bureau  of  Statistics  (NBS). The ‘Nigerian unemployment report 2011’ prepared by the NBS shows that the rate is higher in the rural area (25.6 percent) than in the urban areas (17.1 percent). The result of the survey shows that person aged 0 to 14 years constituted 39.6 percent, those aged between 15 and 64 (the economically active population) constituted 56.3 percent, while above age 64 years constituted 4.2 percent. Before now, not a few economic watchers have queried the recorded Gross Domestic Product, GDP, growth rate in Nigeria, which over time are contrary to the growing rate of unemployment. For instance, GDP report for the third-quarter of 2011 showed that the Nigerian economy, when measured by the real GDP on an aggregate basis, grew by 7.40 percent towards the end of 2011 as against 7.86 percent in the corresponding quarter of 2010. Amid this high rate of unemployment, the economic watchers have noticed that there is an increasing trend of disinterest by the emerging younger generation in highly labour –intensive works such as agriculture and factory work in preference for white collar jobs, resulting in many preferring to remain in the labour market rather than taking up such jobs. According to the NBS, in computing the unemployment rate, the total population is divided into labour force (currently active) and non-labour force (not currently active). The labour force population covers persons aged 15 to 64 years. The definition of unemployment therefore covers persons (aged 15 – 64) who during the reference period were currently available for work, seeking for work but were without work. 

Oloidi (2013) argued against the ‘knowledge scientification’ in Nigeria’s Tertiary Institutions. He appraised its implications for Art and Technology. He posited that ‘knowledge scientification’ in Nigeria has constituted a bane to technology, and Industrialization. He cited examples like minimum entry requirement to our Tertiary Institution that make English and Mathematics Compulsory and Making all Doctorate Degree in Nigeria to be of Philosophy (Ph.D). He poised that many would be denied to higher education because of absence of Credit pass at ordinary level in English and Mathematics even when the candidate course of study does not require those subjects. He also believed that those with high level of practical display in their discipline should be awarded Master and Doctorate Degree in their career. For example Masters of Architecture (MA), Doctor of Building (D.B) and the likes. Oloidi (2013) submitted that over the years Nigeria had been promoting theories, principles and concepts instead of the practice of Technology, hence, the country has been rated very low in the area of Production and Industrialization.

From the foregoing, efforts have been intensified to review relevant literature in relation to the course of study. It is therefore evident that Nigeria is bedeviled with high level of unemployment. Also it has been proved that this menace could  be  at  least  ameliorated  if  TVET  is repositioned which is the thrust of this paper. 



The National Board for Technical Education is a principal organ of Federal Ministry of Education specifically created to handle all aspects of TVE falling outside University Education. It was established by Act No 9 of 11th January, 1977. In addition to providing standardized minimum guide curricula for TVET, the Board supervises and regulates through an accreditation process, the programmes offered by technical institutions at secondary and post-secondary level. It is also involved with the funding of polytechnics owned by the Government of the Federation of Nigeria. The vision of the Board is to promote quality TVET for the sustainable development, growth and leadership roles of Nigeria in African and global affairs. While the mission statement of the Board remains to promote the production of skilled/semi-skilled technical and professional man power, to revitalize, and sustain the national economy, reduce unemployment and poverty through the setting of appropriate quality assurance instruments for TVET, provision of current and reliable information for planning and decision making, sourcing and disbursing of funds and establishment of adequate linkages between TVE Institution and Industry.

Assessing the performance of the Board vis-à-vis its vision and mission, researchers have over the years scored the Board very low. The poor performance of the Board is seen to be caused by poor funding, bad political influence, dearth of qualified manpower, and instability in National Educational Policies among others. 


Technical and vocational education

Most often than not, the term technical education is used in Nigeria more widely than vocational education and is sometimes used incorrectly to refer to secondary vocational education and pre-vocational education programmes. Consequently, the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004; p. 29) states:

Technical and Vocational education is used as a comprehensive term referring to those aspects of the educational process involving,in addition to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences, and acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupation in various sectors of economicand social life.

Calhoun and Finch (1982) define vocational education as “organized educational programmes which are directly related to the preparation of individual for paid  or  unpaid employment or for additional preparation for a career requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree”.

Giachine and Gallington (1977, p. 45) define technical education as:

“Comparative need phase of vocational education defined to meet the complex technological needs of modern industry. This type of education is considered to be of post high school level and is intended to produce a classification of workersreferred to as technicians”.

From Giachine and Gallington’s definition of technical education, it appears the difference between vocational education and technical education is in terms of levels of preparation. That is, Vocational education deals with preparation of person for entry into recognized occupations and is offered at the secondary level, while technical education deals with the preparation of persons for entry into recognized occupations at a higher level. Consequently, technical education is offered at post-secondary level institutions.  


Data were sourced through primary and secondary approaches. These represent use of structured questionnaire, review of relevant literature, direct interview with stakeholders in TVE. Purposive and stratified sampling techniques were adopted in that those that matter in TVE within the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti were interviewed. One hundred (100) sets of structured questionnaires were administered. Five (5) were administered in 20 academic departments within the campus. Names of staff were arranged alphabetically such that the list is divided by five to be able know those to be served.

Available data were analyzed through simple statistical methods and use of tables and frequencies among others.



In line with the methodology adopted Table 3 serves to further explain the subject under study. A total number of 100 sets of questionnaire were administered while 78 were retrieved upon which the analysis is based.

The remaining 22 sets of questionnaire were not returned up till the time of analysis. Also, 78 retrieved representing 78% of the total administered was considered adequate.

Table 3 shows analysis of the responses of the respondents to the set of questionnaire adopted to analyze the relevance of TVET in solving unemployment saga in Nigeria. As touching the ability of TVET in ameliorating if not eradicating unemployment among youths, 96.16 percent of the respondents agreed to this; also 66 (84.62%) of the respondents believed that TVE is poorly funded in Nigeria. Survey studies showed that NBTE was not performing up to expectation. In fact, 60.27   percent submitted that  the  organ  is   not  doing enough while 29.49 percent of respondents believed NBTE is efficient. With the question whether or not unemployment is a problem in Nigeria especially among the youths, 87.19 percent believed that unemployment is prevalent in the country. The table also reveals that disparity between University and Polytechnic certificates constitutes big clog in the wheel of TVET development in Nigeria. A total of 71.80 percent of the population attested to this.



Essentially, the summary of the table shows that much need to be done by the government as well as the private sector (Industry) in order to make TVET an antidote to unemployment in Nigeria. This is further shown in the proffered recommendations. 


Technical and vocational education and training as a panacea for unemployment eradication in NIGERIA

So far so good, it has been established that un-employment especially among the youths is gradually becoming a perennial problem in Nigeria. Also, the essence of TVET can be so far summarized as any education or/and training that tends toward skill acquisition and entrepreneurship. What seems to be the problem in this respect in Nigeria is that appropriate machinery is not put in place in ensuring skill acquisition from the trainees and students on one side and quality skill disposal by the lecturers or teachers from the other side, in line with the maxim Nemodat quod non habet meaning no one can give out what he does not possess. It has been observed that poor remuneration and lack of incentives on the side of the trainers and lecturers/ teachers seem to cause discouragement in Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

It is believed that if the curriculum in the Nigerian educational system is geared toward vocational and technical training, it would go a long way in eradicating or at least alleviating to very large extent unemployment especially among the youths. As it is being done in other developing economies especially in Asia as already mentioned, TVE should be introduced right from Primary Four down to Secondary and Tertiary Institutions. There needs to be a clear distinction between conventional and specialized Universities like University of Technology. For instance, conventional Universities are expected to specialize in research and science among others while the specialized ones should concentrate in skill acquisition and entrepreneurship (Industrialization). Essentially, large number of students in polytechnics should come from Technical Colleges while the Polytechnic products should form the larger population of University of Technology. Not less than 80% of the lecturers in the Polytechnic, University of Technology and NCE- Technical should be made to have technical skill or at best makes it a primary condition for promotion.

Lecturers should be sponsored on foreign training and be made to come back to the country to display their skill. Nigeria indeed can betransformed to a manufacturing nation through TVET.


Reasons for the poor performance of TVET in Nigeria

It is an understatement to assert that TVETwhich is supposed to be the major vehicle of industrialization in Nigeria has been variously scored very low by researchers. Some of the reasons attributed to this poor performance include; wide disconnection between institution and industry, degree of relevance of foreign – generated economic models, faulty policy and institutional frameworks, industrial dispute leading to incessant long closure of Institution, irrelevant and obsolete curricula, policy somersaults arising from instability of political environment, inadequate regulatory and monitoring activities, lack of politicalview will be compounded by the hemorrhage of rampant, corruption, scientification of tertiary education, dichotomy between Polytechnic and University education, production of unemployable graduates, unqualified academic staff, lack of adequate staff training, poor funding,  absence of a National Qualification framework and a host of others.

Most of the problem mentioned so far can be summarized under distorted vision of Nigeria’s rulers and low priority to Education. Education has consistently received allocations far below the minimumof 26% of National budget recommended by UNESCO. To underline our low appreciation of Education, Nigeria devoted relatively less to education than other African countries which are poorer than the Republic. A survey of percentage (%) budgetary allocating between 1980 – 2000 clearly validates this observation as shown in Table 4:

Two facts emerge from this table. One is Nigeria’s paltry allocation to Education. The second is that even by standard of African countries which share the same economic and social features with us, Nigeria scored lowest in her budget allocations to Education. Essentially, in the scale of low priorities of Education system, Technical and Vocational Education comes as the lowest. A report by NBTE observed on current capital allocations for TVE:

“Overall, the figure allocated (N3,524,220,000) is 0.05% of the total Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) proposed budget for 2012. This amount is far less than the N6.05B that was allocated to the sector in 2010, which was 0.13% of the total FGN budget for 2010. This means that capital provision for TVET in 2011 is only about one third of the 2010 provisions.

Table 5 with no doubt shows a marginal improvement in Federal  Government’s  prioritization  of social services in the following decades. The level of allocation is at its highest points barely a third of UNESCO benchmark.



This is not good enough. Another point worthy of expansion is relative poor reward for lecturers and teachers, a situation which leads to alienation and perennial disruption of academic calendar. Human capital development should start with development of committed high quality teaching cadre.

Table 6 illustrates the distorted value system scale. The figures show that the system pays a Local Government Chairman roughly four times, a Local Government Supervisory Council almost three times and Federal Legislator about 12 times the pay-packet of a professor. This would definitely reduce the efficiency/ morale of the Lecturers to work. 



1. Need for Educational Reform in Nigeria in order to right the wrongs of  successive  years  of  inconsistencies  and confusions. Such reform must compare note with the success story of other developing countries that are now thriving in Industrialization.

2. Innovating Science Education for Technical Entrepreneurship through a curriculum that can stand the test of time. There is need to review the current curriculum in order to meet the current challenges in the areas of production, technology and industrialization.

3. Need for Staff Development and Training. Governments at various levels should through tertiary Institutions organize local and international trainings that can improve their technical know-how. They should be sponsored under bound that after their training or course they are coming back to Nigeria to transform their knowledge to wealth and skill creation.

4. Skill acquisition as benchmark for both Academic staff and students. This explains the fact that promotion of staff should be rather attached to their skill acquisition and disposal to students. Also assessment of student should be geared toward their ability to display skill acquired especially in TVE.

5. Organization of exchange programmes with foreign institutions that are ahead of us in skill acquisition.

6. Development of improved facilities and/or infrastructure in our Laboratories and Workshops as well as campuses. As a matter of fact, the condition of our Laboratories and Workshops are nothing to write home about.

7. Descientification of knowledge in Tertiary Institutions. This will surely have appreciable implication for skill acquisition and disposal, entrepreneurship and industrialization.

8. The Dichotomy between the Certificates obtained in the Polytechnic and that of the University should be redefined. There seems to be confusion as to why each institution is established. The intention for their establishment should be redefined and protected to remove the rivalry existing between Polytechnic and University.

9. There is need to restructure the Regulatory Body (NBTE) of TVE in Nigeria to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. The Polytechnic Commission should emerge from the present NBTE in order to separate polytechnic education from Technical Colleges. Staff in the Body should be trained toward skill acquisition and basic curriculum studies. Unnecessary interference of the Federal Ministry of Education should be curtailed.

10. There is need to fashion out a relevant link between Technical Colleges, Polytechnic and University of Technology if Technical and Vocational Education is to eradicate unemployment in Nigeria. Ordinarily, Technical Colleges are expected to produce students for the Polytechnic while University of Technology is expected to generate students from the Polytechnic. The conventional Universities should be left with Science and Research while Polytechnic and University of Technology should be tailored towards skill acquisition and entrepreneurship.

11. With the unending discrimination between University and Polytechnic certificates, it is high time Nigerian Polytechnics (both material and human resources) be upgraded to run degree and post graduate programmes as it is being practiced in the developed economies.

12.  Polytechnics and  Colleges  of  education  should be

equipped; empowered and repositioned to offer programmes leading to the award of Bachelor of Technology and Bachelor of Education.

13. Improved funding: Tertiary Institutions for TVE require massive funding to finance the implementation of the recommendations outlined so far. As a result of the huge sum of money required, there is need to adopt the concept of Public Private Partnership in funding Technical Education in Nigeria. 


So far so good, effort had been made in this survey to overview the extent of neglect of TVE and serious drawbackwhich the neglect imposes on the healthy development of the entire educational system and indeed Nigerian economy. The most serious aspect of the drawback is the absence of a skilled middle level manpower vis-à-vis absence of will power, which is supposed to be the backbone of economic development of a country and the dependence of the nation on an import-driven economy. Nigeria according to Chukwumerije (2011) is on the verge of losing her sovereignty to the forces of globalization. The answer to Nigeria’s stagnation according to him is a 10-year Marshall Plan – a coordinated and comprehensive development agenda which will initiate and execute policy, institutional and legislative reforms. Unemployment is a good index to measure underdevelopment and this can be alleviated through repositioned TVE as highlighted in this paper. . Hence, if Nigeria as a nation is to bridge up with the wide gap of under-industrial development, there is need for adequate funding of technical and vocational education and training as well as setting out a workable educational policy toward skill acquisition,entrepreneurshipand industrialization.


The author has not declared any conflict of interest.


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