‘Conversion of polytechnics into varsities not rebranding exercise’
Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Tertiary Education, has said the conversion of the 10 polytechnics into technical universities was not a re-branding activity.
“This is not a rebranding exercise being undertaken by the Ministry, or an action to mimic the traditional universities, but a move to ensure hands down training and skills acquisition to meet the current needs of industry as a measure to accelerate the country’s economic growth”.
Mr. Ablakwa was responding to a question by a member of the Ghana National Union of Polytechnic Students on whether the conversion was not a mere political exercise, as happened with the four-year senior high school policy at the Union’s 23rd National Delegates Congress in Takoradi.
This year’s Annual Delegates Congress is under the theme: 'Conversion of Polytechnics to Technical Universities: A Vehicle to accelerate Industrialization in Ghana.'
The Deputy Minister said technical experts had already traveled to Germany to pick up information on best practices on how such universities were running in that country, and its overall benefits to industry and economic growth.
Mr. Ablakwa mentioned that to achieve economic transformation, the mandate of polytechnics which is mainly skills-driven, should play a lead role, adding, “we are refocusing, evaluating and re-strategizing Polytechnic education” to build a strong industrial base for development.
To this effect, a validation workshop had been organized on the report of the technical experts and a government white paper issued on the recommendations.
The Deputy Minister In charge of Tertiary Education said the proposed conversion would require eligible polytechnics to have two faculties in a given department with four bachelor of technology programmes running, which called for re-thinking into institutional arrangement.
Another recommendation was the need for a radical staff development programme to the PHD level.
Currently, there are about 80 PHD holders in the country’s Polytechnics, and 1, 386 Master Degree holders with such lecturers having a minimum of five years' experience in industry.
The Polytechnics are also to have Memoranda of Understanding between them and some selected industries.
Another significant component of the process would be the amendment of the Act that established Polytechnics across the country, and the introduction of a new law to regulate the sector before the eventual take-off in September 2016.
Mr. Lawrence Sarpong, National President of GNUPS, called for deliberate industrialization plan and effective resourcing of these technical training institutions to produce the needed manpower for the country.