Been born in Ghana as at this era is more of a curse than a blessing; no wonder the infant mortality rate is on the rise. No public institution seems to be is working at all. From health, education, transportation, on and on the list goes. Everything in Ghana today is been sown in a political gown.
The Educational Sector is one of the key areas which is of interest to me as far as national development is concerned. For the past decade Ghana has gone through series of political policies in the educational sector, ranging from free education in the primary sector,increasing the 3 years Senior High School Duration to 4 years and the reversal to 3 years following the change of government, the conversion of polytechnics to technical universities and the recent free senior high school policy to be commenced come September 2017.
Have you thought about why and how the Polytechnics were converted to Technical Universities?
Polytechnics as per the Parliamentary Act 2007(Act 745) are mandated to provide tertiary education in the fields of manufacturing, commerce, science and technology, applied social science, applied arts and of course to provide opportunity for skills development.
Unfortunately, the core vision for establishing these Polytechnics got missing along the way as cited to be the main reason for the conversion according to the committee in charge of the transition chaired by one Dr. George Afeti. According to the 24-page report presented by the committee made up of 9 people, about 60% of the total population of all the Polytechnics across the country enrolls in Business and Management programmes although majority of the courses offered is in the Technical field. Where we are in Ghana now, everyone will agree with me that we need more of the technical skills than the intellectual skills after all majority of our past leaders did not offer us any best resource with their so call intellectual backgrounds. We can also testify that countries like Singapore and Malaysia who we all started the independence struggle at the same time is far advanced than us as a nation in terms of infrastructural development and this is not a rocket science; they focused more on skills development than the intellectual.
So logically, if the above problem is the cause of the deviation of the core mandate of the Polytechnics, does the new policy seek to address the situation? It’s a big “NO”. The new policy still offers the Business and Managerial courses, therefore adding more yards to the problematic cloth.
Let’s have a look at this carefully; the cost of Polytechnic education in Ghana today is cheaper as compared to the Universities, therefore allowing the Polytechnics to award a First Degree will rather increase the admission into the institutions, therefore the Business and Managerial programmes will still be in a comfortable lead since the new policy did not scrap the entire Business and Managerial programmes off the institutions’ files. The report does not even seem to mention a specific quota of the Business and Managerial students to be admitted as against the regular Technical students which is a way to control the situation at least for the moment.
The committee also cited the lack of infrastructural facilities as a factor in the failure of the polytechnics.Now the question which comes to mind is that, “Are the appropriate facilities available as the conversion is on the go now”? Has the Lecturers been adequately equipped to deliver a comprehensive tuition leading to awarding of a First Degree to their students which can meet other Universities standard across the globe or it’s a kind of Honorary Degree to be confined on them ? With a personal check I did, none of these things are available nor has the lecturers been given any further training into preparing their students for a deserving First Degree.
Here we are again, the POLITICAL GAME!
The follow up question again is that “Is the government ready to provide the adequate funding for the new policy”? Mind you, since the policy seems to increase their status, the status of the Lecturers also goes up implying that their salaries too shoot up automatically. The report of the committee also captured that in 2014, the Polytechnics where allocated only GHC150,571,282.00 out of the requested budget of GHC325,547,304.00 leaving a funding gap of about 54% deficit.
The total population of all Polytechnic students in Ghana as at 2014 is 53,078 implying that the government spends only GHC 2,836.00 on each student. The committee prior to their recommendation of the conversion of the Polytechnics to Technical Universities, made a week’s visit to some Technical Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences in Germany and it noted that the German government spends between 5000-7200 Euros (GHc15,000.00-GHC21,000) on each student in a University of Applied Sciences annually. The committee we t ahead to suggest that “the huge gap between the current and optimal funding levels will have to be bridged if QUALITY TRAINING in the converted Polytechnics is to be comparable to international standards”. Therefore now that the government has started the conversion process without addressing the suggestions by the committee, I expected them to come out and caution the government because it is Biblically said “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks will come, but woe to the one through whom they come”.
The sad thing is that the government officials and the committee members will enroll their relatives in universities abroad after making such deadly decisions and claim it’s in the good of the Ghanaian populist and expect us to clap for them for their good work. If the policy is the best, why then do they enroll your wards abroad? If Parliament were to be an organized institution and an avenue where they have people at heart, they would have passed a bill compelling every public official to enroll their wards in only public institutions in the country and to forbid them from enrolling them in schools abroad, in that way they will accord circumspection in formulating policies for the good people of our dear nation. But in our case they are all part of the rot. They will enroll their relatives to gain a diploma in Harvard University and you the countryman will enroll your ward in the converted Technical Universities for a degree and when they present their respective qualification for a vacant position in the country, they will choose his diploma over your hard earn degree, isn’t that a pity? Indeed we should note that the politicians pass these policies not for the good of it but to score for themselves a cheap political point.
In our economy currently about 80% of the total population is employed in the informal sector, therefore if the students are run through this weak system with their “confine” degrees, and there are no jobs in the economy, what then is the work done? One will ask, what the current condition of the free basic education is, well it is nothing to write home about. It is indeed free, free of knowledge. Go to my village and see, no one cares if teachers come to school or not but if their wards in the international schools in the country comes home to tell them their teacher was absent in a day, they will immediately follow up.
Someone may think that I am against the policy, but that is not the case. They policies should be implemented at the right time in the mist of the requisite resources.
I will rest my case with my advice in these 3 little proverbs below for it is said that “the wise man is spoken to in proverbs not a plain language;
You need the people on your way up the ladder because they are the same people you need on your way down.
The sheep is only deceiving himself if he thinks he is spoiling the community with his bows forgetting he is spoiling his own buttocks.
When a fetish priest prophesizes a doom for his nation, he shouldn’t forget he is also a resident of that nation.
These are my humble thoughts, you are also entitled to yours because I know sense doesn’t reside in one person’s head and together we can make Ghana a better place to live.