The Chairman of the African Union of Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET), Dr. George Afeti, has advised management of new technical universities to guard against drifting away from their mission and mandate.
He stated that the expanded autonomy conferred on the converted polytechnics as technical universities should not become license for indiscriminately mounting of new programmes without ensuring that the requisite human, material and financial resources to effectively run such programmes were available or procurable.
“Quality, relevance and graduate employability should be the focus of technical university education,” he added.
Dr. Afeti stated this when he addressed an inaugural lecture of the Koforidua Technical University.
The lecture, which was held on the theme “Technical University: the key to industrial development of Ghana” was organised by the Koforidua Polytechnic University as part of activities to formally outdoor the university and shape the orientation of staff and students towards the technical university concept.
Dr. Afeti said the establishment of technical universities was a good idea, but until they were able to function as practice-oriented, teaching universities of applied science and technology with a focus on skills development, they run the risk of becoming junior universities by mimicking traditional universities.
“Technical universities should place priority on differentiation that will enable them to train differently-skilled graduates who can address the country’s development challenges,” he stated.
According to him, the new technical universities were expected to offer mainly science and technology-based skills training programmes that are vocationally oriented or career focused at the certificate, diploma, degree and eventually, postgraduate levels.
“Technical universities have the obligation, indeed the responsibility, to contribute to the greater differentiation and diversification of tertiary education system and the training of differently-skilled graduates,” he said.
Speaking on the topic “Technical universities: what is the difference?”, Dr Afeti said with their current status, technical universities were looked at to be different in orientation from the traditional universities, requiring that their teaching philosophy and methodologies should be skill-driven rather than knowledge-driven.
According to him, for technical universities to differentiate themselves, they had to have a strong link with business and industry as well as adopt cooperative education strategy where student admissions were based on market demand and training delivery supported by industry experts.
He added that such institutions should also sign collaborative training agreements with relevant enterprises that will provide adjunct or part-time instructors who would bring the world of work into the classroom, laboratories and workshops of the university,” he said.
According to Dr. Afeti, with their current status technical universities should help create logical academic and professional progression pathways at the tertiary level for practically-inclined senior high school students and technical school graduates as well as higher national diploma (HND) graduates, without departing from the practice-oriented philosophy of polytechnic education and training.
“Technical universities must enhance the attractiveness of technical and vocational education and training in general since young people with aptitude for technical education will no longer see the TVET as a dead-end, but rather as an avenue of possibilities for developing their skills to the highest level possible, whether they started as apprentices, artisans or middle-level technicians,” he stated.
For her part, the Vice-Chancellor of Koforidua Polytechnic, Prof. Mrs Smile Dzisi, said as part of transitional activities, the university had outlined a number of activities such as lectures, workshops and seminars to help shape the orientation of staff and students towards the technical university concept.
From Ama Tekyiwaa Ampadu-Nyarko, Koforidua