Courtesy call by Commonwealth Association of Technical Universities and Polytechnics
A delegation of the executive of the Commonwealth Association of Technical Universities and Polytechnics in Africa have paid a courtesy call on the Minister for Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, in Accra.
The group was at the ministry not only to pay a courtesy call on him but also to introduce the association to the minister as well as outline to him its ambition and vision.
The meeting was also an opportunity to outline activities leading to the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the association which comes off next year.
Addressing the group, the minister said all technical universities in the country will have to shift from the current 60% technical and vocational programmes to 90 per cent.
This is to enable them to stay focused and concentrate on the training of the needed manpower to accelerate development.
Dr. Opoku Prempeh said even though it was in the statutory books of the technical universities that they could do 60 per cent technical and vocational programmes and 40 per cent of other programmes, government was not enthused about that and was, therefore determined to ensure that they focused on their core mandate of equipping their products with the relevant skills needed in the country.
Dr. Opoku Prempeh told the delegation that the government was retooling all the technical and vocational institutions, as well as the technical universities, to demonstrate its commitment to technical and vocational training.
He said it seemed Africa had lost its focus for not giving the relevant prominence to technical and vocational education.
According to him, Africa had gotten to a stage that “ if we have to go a notch higher, we must empower our youth with the necessary skills.”
Emphasis on technical education
Dr. Opoku Prempeh explained that “our government currently has decided that technical and vocational education is where its emphasis is going to be on.
“So, the first thing the government has done is to say all technical and vocational institutions will be centred in the Ministry of Education,” he explained.
He said bringing all under the ministry from the over 16 ministries which were offering some form of skills development, would enable the ministry to look at standardization, resource mobilization, certification, regulation and also to let it become the number one choice of the youth.
Dr. Opoku Prempeh said a bill was ready to be submitted to cabinet within the next few weeks to get the approval of the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) strategy of the country and in Parliament for adoption.
He hinted that government would prefer that managers of the technical universities should come from a technical education background.
The Secretary-General of the association, Dr. Olubunmi Owoso, noted that the conversion of the polytechnics into technical universities was very important to make TVET attractive to the youth.
He said currently, many students preferred going to the traditional universities to attain a degree instead of goinjg to the TVET institutions.
“This is a reality. So we believe transformation of technical colleges that have the capability and polytechnics to universities of technology is very important in making them attractive to our youth,” he explained.
He said it was important to strengthen the technical universities to be really involved in the relevant applied research and innovation, which were critical in the development of their respective countries.
“We have resolved to embark on the harmonization of competent-based training in member countries,” he said.
Other members of the delegation were, Prof. Sylvester Archio, ViceChancellor of the Accra Technical University and Country Representative of the association and Prof. Prince J.O. Agboola, Rector of Osun State Polytechnic and Coutry Representative.