The Ghana National Union of Technical Students,(GNUTS), says the reasons for converting Polytechnics to Technical Universities has not yielded any dividends because the conversion is not serving its purpose.
To the Coordinating Secretary, the backlog of students waiting for admission into higher institutions show why attention should be paid to acquiring vocational skills.
‘Vocational or technical education is a major way of equipping people especially the youth with entrepreneurial skills, at this time where the labour market is not big enough to absorb fresh graduates.
‘Knowledge-based and vocational skills are an attractive pull for employers and it solves the triple evils that Ghana’s economy is battling with namely, high youth unemployment, poverty, and crime.
‘Technical and vocational skills are the way to go for the millions of our youth that are unable to enter universities, so you have to be deliberate about vocational and technical schools,” Bright Nkutumi, the Coordinating Secretary of GUNTS told The Hawk Newspaper.
Bright was speaking to a report put together by Africa Education Watch. The Non-governmental organ had carried out an assessment of Technical Universities five years after changing Polytechnics to Technical Universities.
The Africa Education Watch attempts a review of the key issues encountered in expanding access to high level technical skills, improving TVET progression and providing a much-specialized focus on high level TVET to Technical Universities.
Meanwhile, Technical University Teaches’ Association of Ghana (TUTAG) in a fraternal message through its National President, Dr. Brigandi Akurugu Michael has admonished the leadership of the Union to prioritize and pay a critical attention to the injunction restricting Technical Universities from running graduate programs their worry.
He said, that is actually more of a fight for students than any other person or group of persons.
‘If Technical Universities are prevented from running Graduate programs, your classmates who chose to go to the traditional universities will come back to teach in the very Technical Universities that you completed your HND and Bachelor of Technology program, whilst you will be told that you don’t have a PhD or research master’s degree to qualify you to teach there’.
Dr. Akurugu thinks such a directive restricting Technical Universities from running graduate courses is going to limit the academic progression of the students, thus making them a subordinate to their counterparts in the traditional universities.
For him, with time, there will be shortage of the really qualified teachers. This will mean that the Technical Universities will keep giving post retirement contract to the old staff that are there whilst the youth are jobless or are at the lower levels of employment.
Recommending superior ways of resuscitating vocational and technical education, Africa Education Watch has proposed to the Ministry of Education to commission a study to interrogate the low patronage for Technical Universities in spite of their upgrading. This proposition is hinged on the basis that before the conversion, Polytechnics were enjoined run 60% Science and 40% Arts/Humanities programs as norms for regulating the distribution of programmes in polytechnics prescribed by the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) prescribed.
Ahead of the commencement of the conversion in 2016, the ratio of Science to Arts/Humanities was 44% to 56%, with the expectation that the sciences would increase to achieve the norms, after conversion.
According the report, not only has demand for science related courses declined, the general enrollment demand for science and engineering related programmes has decline to as low as 37% with Arts/Humanities accounting for 63% of programmes being pursued by students.
While Africa Education Watch is calling on the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission must support Technical Universities to review entry level requirements into some science related TVET programmes that do not necessarily require SHS foundations in the same discipline, zeroing on one’s admission to pursue Bachelor of Technology in Agriculture,
To deal with the low patronage of TVET, Africa Education Watch is requesting the Ministry of Education to institute a policy to provide learning grants to students pursuing science related TVET programmes as motivation to increase participation in that space.
They are further demanding the Ministry of Education to set up a Technical Universities Fund to provide affirmative funding for a holistic development of infrastructure, teaching and learning facilities in all Technical Universities, in addition to the regular budgetary and non-budgetary support.
However, Africa Education Watch insists without a comprehensive upgrading of facilities and infrastructure, efforts at increasing patronage of Technical Universities will remain challenged.
As part of rejuvenating vocational and technical training, they want the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission to develop and implement a separate promotional system that prioritizes innovation, invention, and publications for Technical Universities.
They have also recommended for the consideration by the Ministry of Education and Finance to institute a tax rebate policy for employers who accept industrial attachment or internship students from Technical Universities.
It’s their frantic position that Technical Universities must be the focal point of development because of is provision of huge manpower to industries.