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Regional News Fri, 22 Apr 2016

Slow down conversion of polytechnics – VIAM Africa urges gov’t

A policy and research Think Tank, VIAM Africa Centre for Education and Social Policy, says government’s hasty decision to convert the country’s polytechnics into technical universities, could have dire concerns on the quality expected to come about as a result of the conversion.

VIAM Africa, in a statement signed by its Executive Director Dr. Prince Armah, thus asked government to slow down the process for at least two years, to sort out all other issues that could impede the success of the new policy.

President John Mahama in 2013 announced to Parliament, government’s decision to convert polytechnics into technical universities. An eight member committee, chaired by Dr. George Afeti was established to make the necessary recommendations on the way forward.

The committee was to among other things review the key characteristics of a Technical University; highlight the differentiating characteristics of a converted polytechnic as a technical university from a traditional university; recommend eligibility criteria for converting a Polytechnic to a Technical University; recommend a strategy for converting the 10 polytechnics to technical universities, with particular reference to whether all the polytechnics should be converted at the same time or on a polytechnic-by-polytechnic basis; to formulate the broad mandate for the converted polytechnics as technical universities.

After thorough discussions with stakeholders, the committee, among other things proposed the promulgation of a new law to back the policy. Government subsequently announced the conversion of six polytechnics in the first phase of the exercise, whiles the four others who had not met the criterion would be converted later. Government hopes to complete the conversion by September this year.

Out of the six to be converted, President Mahama has performed a ceremony to convert Takoradi Polytechnic even before Parliament passes a law to back the policy. VIAM Africa Centre for Education and Social Policy, which has issued a paper on the conversion, also in a statement described it as premature saying a lot more needed to be done before the implementation.

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“Presently, institutional and programme accreditation requirements of the National Accreditation Board, together with other statutory institutional affiliation arrangements have not been concluded.

This makes the premature conversion of Takoradi and Koforidua Polytechnics into technical universities questionable, when their University statutes appear not to have been enacted by Parliament as required by law.”

“Policy recommendations have been made in the paper for consideration if truly Ghana wants to achieve the aims stated by the committee for the conversion of the polytechnics. One of the recommendations is for a comprehensive secondary education system in which general secondary education (GSE) and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) are delivered in the same school, with the view to stimulating a ‘parity of esteem’ between GSE and TVET.

The statement added that, “the success or failure of a technical university apart from all other factors identified relies prominently on the nature of the curriculum and the system of technical and vocational education in Ghana. We would advise government to slow down the conversion process, until at least two years.

This would allow for a complete review of their curriculum and ensure they meet proper accreditation requirements, whilst addressing the structural weaknesses (e.g. progression) in the technical/vocational training system.

In our view, such hasty policy interventions have often undermined the quality of our education system. The implementation of the 1987 and 2007 education reform recommendations are few examples.”

Source: citifmonline.com
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