By Papisdaff Abdullah
President of the Republic of Ghana says the strategy of his government is to expand technical and vocational opportunities at both secondary and tertiary levels.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said the aim is to strengthen the linkages between education and industry, as well as empower young people to deploy their skills, to employ themselves and others.
The Ghanaian Head of State said his government is paying critical attention to technical and vocational training in the country. He explained that the transformation of the structure of the Ghanaian economy, and the reduction of unemployment, hinge on technical education and vocational training.
“What I envisage in the technical and vocational education sector would involve a truly radical change in attitude on the part of all of us. Throughout the years, enough lip service has been paid to the TVET sector,” he said.
The President stressed that “this time we are backing the talk with money and political will. This time, the interventions will be focused and seen through to proper conclusion.”
President Akufo-Addo revealed that when he delivered the keynote address at a National Conference on Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (TVET), held at the Koforidua Technical University, in the Eastern Region of Ghana.
The President lamented meager budgetary allocation for the Technical and Vocational Educational and Training sector.
“It has obsolete and inadequate facilities and equipment, matched by equally obsolete academic curricula that do not keep up with contemporary labour needs. We do not have enough qualified teachers and instructors, and there is an absence of tertiary degree awarding institutions, that will train teachers in skill development,” he lamented.
Above all, he stated that the greatest difficulty we have has been the low perception of technical and vocational skills and graduates in our society, as the effect has been catastrophic, and is staring us in the face and all around us.
It is for this reason that the President Akufo Addo told participants of the conference that his government is things, starting with the launch of a major project that will emphasize the importance of TVET, and redeem the misconception that technical and vocational education is inferior, and patronized only by less endowed students.
“We are aligning and bringing all public TVET institutions in the country under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Education to streamline their curricula, and improve the co-ordination of their training. To this end, one Deputy Minister for Education is to be specifically responsible for technical and vocational education, like there is a dedicated Minister of State for Tertiary Education,” he said.
The 5-year Strategic Plan for TVET, approved by Cabinet, involves the undertaking of structural reforms, which include the setting up a TVET Service and TVET Council, and dedicating a whole division of the education service to technical and vocational education, which would have its own Director General.
“We are tackling the perennial infrastructure problems of the TVET sector. Work will start soon on the construction of 20 modern TVET institutions in various areas of the country,” he said.
The President, “We are also upgrading some 35 National and Vocational Training Institutes across the country, and upgrading colleges of education that specialize in technology. There is underway a major revision of the curricula of TVET schools to make them relevant to the needs of our changing economy.”
President Akufo-Addo noted further that the success or failure of many of his administration’s projects will depend on how TVET fares, and was hopeful that adding that the conference will lead to the raising of interest amongst investors, who would collaborate with institutions to bolster our technical capacity, and strengthen skills training in the country.
President Akufo Addo told the gathering that his administration is determined to strengthen the Ghanaian economy, as the current, positive macroeconomic signals are clear.
A rapid improvement in our skills development will quicken the pace of translating these signals into jobs and better quality of living, stressing that “the success of the government’s flagship programme, 1-District-1-Factory, a programme government will fulfill, for example, is very much tied to the availability of the type of skilled workforce that TVET produces.”