Ghana is changing designations around technical studies in post-secondary education. Nutifafa Geh, a Commonwealth Correspondent alumni from Ho in Ghana, looks at how the changes affect institutions and students.
Polytechnics in Ghana are tertiary institutions with the mandate to equip students with technical skills required by industry. It takes three years to study at the polytechnic for a Higher National Diploma (HND), and four years for first degree at universities.
In 2013, the Government of Ghana thought it prudent to convert polytechnics into technical universities and accordingly legislation was enacted to support the polytechnic-university migration.
The polytechnic-university migration as a quest is being pursued to further enrich training of high level technical skills in the areas of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), and also to provide more progression avenues for technical and vocational students from the second cycle institutions.
The migration attracted several reactions across the country, and although it was applauded by some class of people, there were some people who thought otherwise. Those who were ‘against’ the move were of the view that the initiative was ill-timed and not well thought out, and that it was only a calculated attempt by the then-ruling government to win political points. The above views were expressed partly because it was only few months to the general election when the polytechnics were upgraded to technical universities.
Accessibility is very key when it comes to education, and for that reason polytechnics were carefully sited across the country by having one institution in each of the ten regions. These institutions were named after the regional capitals, with names including the Accra Polytechnic in Accra, the regional capital of Greater Accra Region, and Ho Polytechnic in Ho, the capital of Volta Region.
As of now, eight out of the ten polytechnics in Ghana have been upgraded to the status of technical university, commencing during the 2016/17 academic session. The remaining two polytechnics will be evaluated again in the future and upgraded to university status when they meet the standards and requirements.
The institutions that have been upgraded to the status of technical university are Ho Technical University, Accra Technical University, Cape Coast Technical University, Kumasi Technical University, Takoradi Technical University, Sunyani Technical University, Koforidua Technical, and Tamale Technical University. The institutions yet to be upgraded to technical university are Wa Polytechnic and Bolgatanga Polytechnic.
A former Secretary General of Commonwealth Association of Polytechnics in Africa, and former Rector of Ho Technical University (formerly Ho Polytechnic), Dr. George Afeti, commented that polytechnics, upon receiving their university status, should not become traditional universities with similar mandates or duplicate the courses and programmes that those institutions were already offering.
Prior to the conversion of polytechnics into technical universities, the subject of equality between polytechnics and traditional public universities has ever been present. While lecturers were questioning conditions of service, the worry of students was job placement after graduation. From the experience of some people, it happened that students who pass from the traditional universities were viewed as “better equipped” with their degrees for jobs and therefore received higher wages than their counterparts from the polytechnics. This was a major concern for polytechnic students. Will the migration address this concern? Time will tell.
Another concern was the inability of some traditional universities in allowing transfer of credits from HND towards first degree programmes for polytechnic applicants in the same programmes undertaken at the polytechnic. If credit transfer is allowed, the first year will be waived and students will only have to study for three years, but if that is not allowed then studies would have to be completed over four years.
The polytechnic-university migration, among other reasons, can be seen as a re-branding and strategic move which will benefit students and also improve the public image of polytechnics (now technical universities). It is asserted that polytechnic students believe the migration would grant them the same level of respect and privilege accorded to university students in the country.
Education and training for productive employment is a prerequisite for economic and social development, and it is expected that pursuing these reforms in tertiary education in Ghana will boost skills development for industry.
Photo credit: Nutifafa GEH, Link: https://goo.gl/UlpmUx
About me: My name is Nutifafa and I am for students (#Iam4Students). I believe what wings are to a bird is what education is to every boy and girl whether young or old. For that reason, my interest in education is very keen, and it is a joy for me to give a hand in empowering students to reach their full potential.
I love life and photography, and I believe I can make students smile by giving them the reason to.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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