A former Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Reverend Professor Emmanuel Adow Obeng, says the Ghana Beyond Aid vision coupled with the industrialization aspirations is bound to crash if the government continue to pay lip-service to technical university education as seen with governments in the past.
Reverend Professor Obeng who is currently the President of the Presbyterian University College was speaking at the Second Convocation Lectures of Takoradi Technical University on the theme: “Ghana’s Future and Economic Growth: The Role of the Technical Universities”.
Professor Obeng giving the rationale for his assertion told Citi News that Technical University education would unlock the potential skills of Ghanaians to contribute to the developmental agenda of Ghana Beyond Aid and industrialization, hence adequate funding at the highest level of technical education should be of supreme importance.
“All along in this country, we have been talking about technical vocational education and training but in my view so far, it has been lip-service. Go to the Secondary Technical Schools, a number of them don’t have equipment for the training of students. Now we have about eight or ten technical universities, we need to equip them in their training to have the hands-on practice so that when they go out, either they create jobs for themselves or service our industries, work in agricultural sectors and all the sectors that can help our economy to grow strong. If you look at the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda seriously, what is crucial is that your economy must grow and you are going to rely on Ghanaians for that economy to grow. You are not going to rely on aid from outside to develop your economy.”
“So you need a technical knowhow. Your One-District-One-Factory, who is going to run them for you? It would be products from the Technical Universities. Your One-Village-One-Dam to irrigate your agric, who is going to add value to your agric produce? Is the product from the Technical Universities. That is critical and I was saying that if we do not support the Technical Universities to really do what they are supposed to do, our development agenda would be slowed down. I talked about the Asian Tigers, they depended on technical universities to achieve development and we must do same,” he said.
Professor Obeng also highlighted the need for technical universities to focus on their core mandate of technical training at a time some technical universities like Takoradi Technical University are now offering programmes in Media Studies and even considering training in Chinese language.
“The technical universities must watch it carefully because there is the tendency to veer off, because there are a lot more programmes which you can easily manage. But with the Technical subjects, you need your laboratories and if the labs are not there, then you become handicapped. And that is where if you are not focused, you sway into other easy options, but I think if they stay focused with the necessary equipment, the necessary labs, they should be able to make the impact we are expecting from them.” he said.
The Vice-Chancellor of the Takoradi Technical University (TTU), Reverend Professor Frank John Eshun on his part said TTU takes inspiration from the Convocation lectures and will continue to focus on its mandate of technical education but was quick to justify its non-technical programmes including Media studies and plans to roll out Chinese language studies.
“We look to universities to lead the way to the future with new knowledge and new systems of ideas. A university that fails to lead in these ways is irrelevant and falls short of in its service to society and to individuals. It is for this reason TTU is committed to its core mandate. However, even as I speak now, given our mandate, we are supposed to train people in Oil and Gas but the Petroleum Commission are also asking us to train people in Chinese because we have Chinese people around and Ghana is doing a lot of business with a lot of Chinese in the construction industry and all those things. So when they come, Chinese should be a medium of communication hence we have to attach this language to enable us to drive our agenda. The Media studies is also a way of marketing creativity. When you create something, how to do you market it? So we have to be able to create a platform to market things that we create here.” he said.
Technical University lecturers were however challenged to research into subjects that addresses societal needs and make published research works a criteria for promotion.