Government has been urged to stop giving allowances to both nurses and teacher trainees and invest such funds in Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET).
Professor Stephen Adei, former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), said: “It is time to put the required emphasis on TVET because of its critical role in national development. By technical and vocational education and training, we are talking about aspects of learning directed towards the acquisition of knowledge, competencies and know-how to undertake trades and occupations that require practical and applied skills as well as applied scientific knowledge as opposed to general arts or even basic science education”.
Professor Adei was speaking at the First Convocation Lecture organised by the Takoradi Technical University.
The event was held under the theme: “Enhancing the Development of Ghana through Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET): the role of Technical Universities”.
Professor Adei said it is time government invests and funds the cost of technical and vocational education, which was more expensive than classical education and training.
“You need a robust national TVET system and apprenticeship to provide skilled personnel to catalyse industrial development.”
“I do not even think that today teachers and nurses should get free education and the National Democratic Congress’s policy to that end must be revisited”, he said.
“It is not that these professions are not important for national development. I say so because as an economist, I know that if the government does not support them, we will still have enough people doing courses as they do by going to private universities”, he said.
Professor Adei said: “For example, if the government would stop literally putting in huge resources to support arts and social science students in the public universities, there would be enough funds within current budgetary constraints to provide the funding needed for TVET. And TVET institutions require state of the art facilities and adequate staffing.”
He said there is the need for government to take the bold decision to say that the marketer, lawyer, accountant, historian, in fact, all the arts and humanities, must fund their own tertiary education.
In this vein, Professor Adei said, the country would release all the money for the expansion of quality TVET and at the higher level, produce the professionals – doctors, engineers, technologist etc., – needed for Ghana’s development.
He said technical and vocational education and training aims to help learners to acquire practical and applied skills which is career-focused, hands-on and skilled based for self-employment and the development of skilled labour force for the productive sectors of the economy.
Professor Adei said TVET is the key to producing an enlightened society, equipping people to participate productively in the economy, personal advancement, contributing to cultural development and democracy and generally contributing to economic growth and national development.
Education, he said, is central to modern socio-political and economic development adding “the lack of progress is attributed to the quality and mix of education.”
The TVET catalyses self-employment, job opportunities and reduces unemployment, ensures sustainable livelihoods, increases entrepreneurship, business start-ups and improves the global competitiveness of an economy.
Professor Adei said there must be development oriented national leadership to spearhead the drive for quality TVET and see it as an indispensable stand in the total development of the nation.
Additionally, good basic general education is needed to ensure competencies in the language of instruction and mathematics; ICT as foundation and quality of the technical and vocational education must be high as against the lack of experienced and quality teachers, training equipment and poor environment of TVET institutions.
“In a nutshell, I will be arguing that the state of TVET in the country is too weak for the good of our economic future as a people; the constraints are unacceptably too many and must be addressed; and that the technical universities must not become general universities but the apex of TVET in research, innovation and creativity to support industry”, Professor Adei said.
He said despite established institutions such as the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) in 2006; the National Vocational Training Institute (Act of 1970); the Technical Universities Act and for certification; the National Board for Professional and Technician Examination (NABPTEX), technical and vocational education “remains an orphan in the educational landscape.”
Another area of concern is the wrong and low societal perception of technical and vocational training and education.
TVET is seen as something for the intellectually weak; their products are seen as destined for low- or at best middle-level jobs and incomes; and the elite do not want their children to choose that path.
“I think the overarching concern has been political leaders having no strategic policy, commitment and will to develop TVET in the country which in turn points to lack of appreciation of the role of the TVET in enhancing national development”, he said.
Professor Adei said there is the need to mobilise a strong voice for advocacy for TVET in the country with the setting up of 10 technical universities and over 300 technical schools, institutes and other vocational establishments.
There is also the need to correct the poor image about products of TVET with multi-pronged approaches and continuous renewal of curricula to make TVET course relevant and respond to the needs of industry.
Professor Adei urged technical universities to undertake research, especially on applied research to find solutions to industry and national problems.
The technical universities are also the ones better placed to forge linkages with industries and become a hub like Stanford in connection with Silicon Valley and MIT with regard to heavy industries on Rouge 28 in the USA.
Professor Adei said time is running against the country in discovering the cornerstone role of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in Ghana’s development and called on the technical universities to focus on being technical and engage in applied research, creativity and innovation to galvanise a voice for TVET in the country.