General News of Wed, 7 Jan 201530
Conversion of polytechnics to varsities to start 2016
The technical committee on the conversion of the polytechnics to technical universities has recommended September 2016 as the effective starting date for the exercise.
Dr George Afeti, the Chairman of the technical committee, who made this known at a stakeholders’ consultation forum on the exercise in Accra yesterday, explained that the time lapse was to allow for sufficient time to carefully evaluate the current status and readiness of the polytechnics for the upgrade.
The forum brought together stakeholders to brainstorm on the Technical Universities Bill and the report of the technical committee on the conversion of the polytechnics to technical universities.
It was on the theme, “Repositioning technical education as a driver of economic transformation and national development”.
Dr Afeti presented 10 key recommendations of the committee, among which was the proposal that the universities should not “mimic the traditional or conventional universities in their course offerings”.
Rather, the committee recommended that the new universities “carve a niche for themselves as vocational-oriented, career- focused higher educational institutions contributing to the training of a highly skilled workforce to support economic growth and national development”.
In an address read on his behalf by the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Fiifi Kwetey, President John Dramani Mahama noted that the technical universities would serve as a bridge between the world of science and industry.
He said they would thus forge a symbiotic relationship with industry by utilising the resources of industry for innovation and the technological advancement of the country.
The President said the conversion would lead to the realisation of the vision of making polytechnics strategic institutions for the training of highly skilled human resource to drive economic growth.
“We envision the transformed polytechnics to technical universities as institutions that have not merely assumed new names but a new culture and character with a more purposeful social contract with the taxpayer,” he said.
The President said the drive to curb youth unemployment, alleviate poverty and create wealth had a strong link with training in medium and high-level employable skills, which was the focus of the technical universities.
He, therefore, charged the participants to assist in determining whether all the 10 polytechnics should be converted or that a gradual process based on identified criteria should be employed.
Purpose of forum
Welcoming the participants, the Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, explained that the objective for the forum was to create the context for understanding and collaboration among all stakeholders.
She said the forum was also to create a platform for a national discourse to fine-tune ongoing implementation processes towards the conversion.
The recommendations from the forum, she said, would help further shape the implementation process.
“I look forward to receiving such recommendations,” she said, adding, “I pledge, as the sector minister, to subject the recommendations to further scrutiny at the highest level that will eventually help in the conversion process.”