Gov’t to assist 5 polytechnics conversion

Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa

Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa

The government yesterday, declared its support for the five polytechnics that failed the technical assessment for the conversion of the nation’s polytechnics into technical universities.

The support would ensure that the five were not left behind in the conversion exercise that is expected to take off in September 2016.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Ministry of Education in charge of tertiary, disclosed to The Ghanaian Times in an interview that there was hope for the five polytechnics.

The Ministry is currently studying the technical assessment report submitted by the Committee of Experts to assess the readiness of the polytechnics, after which a report will be submitted to Cabinet

“It is more likely that the government will support all to come on board,” he stressed.

During a recent technical assessment ahead of next year’s conversion exercise, five of the ten polytechnics passed the 16 item assessment criteria, while three were said to have narrowly missed the pass mark, with two others described as having to do a lot of work to be considered for the conversion.

But Mr. Ablakwa, who declined to name the polytechnics involved, said the three need a little assistance in the areas of management structure and strong linkage with industry, while the two others, which need additional infrastructure and laboratories, would be assisted.

According to him, the government was willing and ready to offer that “little assistance” for the three polytechnics, as well as the “substantial interventions” for the two others to pass the criteria.

He explained that the substantial interventions involve the development infrastructure, provision of laboratory and equipment, faculty and quality assurance.

He said even if the two were unable to be ready before the September take off date, they would be in a position to address all the inadequacies to join the others later.

The Ministry, he said was ensuring that the criteria were strictly adhered to so as to avoid a “wholesale conversion” of the polytechnics, indicating that the criteria would help to achieve the objective of the conversion.

In addition, he said the National Accreditation Board and the National Council for Tertiary Education have been actively involved in the process to offer accreditation only to those who merit recognition.

The strict application of the criteria, he said should assure Ghanaians and all stakeholders that “this is not a rebranding exercise being undertaken by the Ministry, or an action to mimic the traditional universities, but a move to ensure hands down training and skills acquisition to meet the current needs of industry as a measure to accelerate the country’s economic growth.”

According to him the government was taking decisions based on the advice of experts, indicating that technical experts had already travelled to Germany to gather evidence on best practices on how such universities were operating in that country, and its overall benefits to industry and economic growth.

He said the conversion formed a key part of the government’s economic transformational agenda in which the mandate of the technical universities was to promote quality skills development for rapid industrial growth.

“It is government’s objective of refocusing, evaluating and re-strategizing polytechnic education to build a strong industrial base for development,” he stressed.

By Edmund Mingle

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