The Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, has criticized government’s basis for the planned conversion of polytechnics into technical universities.
Prof Aryeetey conveyed his skepticism of the conversion process as he contended that it is only being undertaken to serve the interest of a few. –
“We know it will go wrong but why are we doing it; we are doing it because it will make a few people happy,” the UG Vice Chancellor stated at a forum in Accra.
Shifting of polytechnics mandate
Prof Aryeetey indicated that the conversion of polytechnics into universities will ostensibly realign the intended mandate of polytechnics on technical and vocational education.
“When you turn a polytechnic into a university, you are saying spend more time doing research and generating ideas. Is that what we want?”
He also highlighted the politics of educational reform in the country that is breeding dysfunction in the sector.
“Some people believe the their stature in Ghana will be enhanced by becoming a professor or becoming a Vice Chancellor so you would lobby the government, put pressure and the government would say: okay, we will do it for you.”
“That is how we change things in this country and in the end we change them and everybody is happy, or those who are involved are happy, but the system does not function effectively,” Prof Aryeetey added.
The UG Vice Chancellor’s comments come as government has commenced processes to convert about six polytechnics into technical universities.
The six polytechnics earmarked for conversion into technical universities have officially met the eligibility criteria, according to a report of the Education Committee of Parliament.
They are the Accra, Ho, Koforidua, Sunyani, Kumasi and Takoradi polytechnics. The eligibility criteria hinged on institutional standing, academic staff requirements and evidence of collaboration with industry and employers in the delivery of programmes, the report said.
Gov’t playing politics with polytechnics
The Minority in Parliament has however expressed skepticism about the viability of government’s decision to convert polytechnics into technical Universities, saying the concept has not been well-thought through.
According to them, government should instead be taking steps to strengthen technical and vocational education at the pre-tertiary level and polytechnics before rolling out the conversion.
The Minority Spokesperson on Education, Professor Dominic Fobih, intimated that government was only rushing through with the conversion to score political points.
Polytechnics have been neglected
However, the Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman has insisted that converting polytechnics into technical universities per government’s plan will be of immense benefit to the country.
Prof Opoku Agyeman acknowledged that there are challenges with the conversion process but noted that it was necessary as the polytechnics had been neglected for far too long.
“We have isolated 13 technical schools, it has never happened in this country, that we are retooling… We need to have a strategy to refurbish these places. We have picked 13 so far. We are providing them with science labs, workshops, dormitories, with administration blocks to make them worthy of their name with technical schools.”