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Poly Conversion: K’si Poly Fights Aryeetey

ayeehKumasi Polytechnic has said comments by University of Ghana Vice Chancellor Prof Ernest Aryeetey that polytechnics are being converted into technical universities because the rectors mounted pressure on the government to do so as part of their quest to be made professors and vice chancellors are unfortunate.

All ten polytechnics in the ten regions of the country are being converted in phases. Work on the first six has started amidst a raft of controversy. At the 23rd National Delegates Congress of the Ghana National Union of Polytechnics in Takoradi in September last year, Deputy Minister in charge of Tertiary Education Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said: “This is not a re-branding 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 is “refocusing, evaluating and re-strategising polytechnic education” to build a strong industrial base for development.

However, Prof Aryeetey has said converting polytechnics into technical universities is not the way to go.

Speaking at an event organised by NDK Financial Services on Thursday July 21, Prof Aryeetey said: “When you change a polytechnic into a university, you are saying, basically, ‘Spend more time doing research’. …Is that what we want? That’s not what we intended,” he said.

According to him, the conversion is being done because some rectors of the polytechnics have mounted pressure on the government to effect that change to elevate their standing in the academic field. “… Some people believe – that’s the politics – that their stature in Ghana will be enhanced by becoming a professor or a vice chancellor. What is this? …And so they’ll lobby the government and put pressure [on the government] until the government says: ‘OK, we’ll do it for you’. That is how we change things in this country and everybody is happy, or those who are involved are happy and the system does not function effectively”.

However, in a statement signed by Boadu Elijah Frimpong, Chairman, Kumasi Polytechnic, said: “We find this to be very unfortunate, especially coming from someone who is a Professor and Vice Chancellor. Is he saying that no one can become a Professor in the polytechnics? We wish to state emphatically clear that, we have several professors in the polytechnics, so we do not need to become technical universities before someone can become a professor.

“It is acknowledged that the polytechnics, like many other traditional universities, have challenges in relation to infrastructure, but the image being portrayed by the likes of Prof. Aryeetey is not accurate. They still think of the polytechnics as the ones they knew over ten (10) years ago. The polytechnics have indeed changed and they are poised to be converted into technical universities.”

Read the full statement below:
PRESS RELEASE BY POTAG – KUMASI POLY. (MONDAY, 25TH JULY, 2016)

POTAG-KUMASI CHAPTER REACTS TO PROF. ARYEETEY’S COMMENTS ON TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY CONVERSION

We have followed news in the media concerning the proposed conversion of polytechnics into technical universities, and we are unhappy and worried by some unfortunate comments coming from some well-known academics in this country. Notable among them is Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana (Legon).

Prof. Aryeetey, in his presentation on the topic “The Politics of Educational Reforms in Ghana” at a ceremony of NDK Financial Services last week, made a number of unfortunate statements about the proposed conversion of polytechnics into technical universities. He stated inter alia that, even though in principle, he should not object to the conversion, he disagreed with it because it would not solve the problems of the polytechnics. He continued to say that the conversion was coming because the polytechnics are complaining for several reasons.

We find this assertion baseless and unfounded. The conversion of polytechnics into technical universities is modeled after the German system of technical universities, which has proven to be a huge success. Other countries such as The Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, South Africa, Kenya, etc have similar technical university education system which has also been very beneficial to them. These countries made conscious efforts to transform some of their existing technical and vocational institutions to technical universities and the result is phenomenal. There is therefore no gainsaying that when the polytechnics are converted, they will make much positive impact than they are doing now. However, we wish to state that the polytechnics have not been complaining and insisting that they should be converted into technical universities. In any case, Prof. Aryeetey failed to mention a single complaint coming from the polytechnics.

The polytechnics, like many other tertiary institutions such as the traditional universities, have challenges relating to resources but this cannot be used as a basis to say that the conversion must be deferred until all the resource constraints are addressed. The question that comes to mind is, how much financial and human resource did the traditional universities have when they were set up?

The polytechnics have been in existence as tertiary institutions for more than two (2) decades and have gone through a number of reforms aimed at improving the system of education. By way of infrastructure, human resources and quality of programmes and products, can we compare any of the traditional universities established within the last ten (10) years to any of the polytechnics earmarked for conversion into technical universities?

Like the universities, the minimum academic qualification for teaching in the polytechnic is a research master’s. However, in the case of the technical universities, an additional requirement of considerable industrial and professional experience is needed. This shows how practically focused the technical universities will be.

According to Prof. Aryeetey, once the polytechnics are converted, their focus will be the same as the traditional universities and therefore they will also aim at generating ideas instead of using them for skills creation. This assertion is born out of ignorance about the mandate of technical universities. Technical universities (as seen the world over) are distinguished for their practice-based and application-oriented education as well as their close linkage with industry while those of the traditional universities are heavier on theory. Projects are undertaken by students in collaboration with companies so that the knowledge gained can be used straightaway.

Teaching and learning in the technical universities is oriented towards achieving strong vocational competencies. Students are prepared for professions in specific fields of work, such as technology, business, social work or media and design. Study programmes include work placements (attachments) and practical semesters.

Indeed, no nation can make progress unless it promotes technical aspects in its fields. Technical education produces technicians for all types of industries and it is true that the progress of a country much depends upon its industrialization without which a robust economy would not be possible. The technical university concept would provide avenues to train these technically and practically oriented people from the diploma level all the way to the doctorate level.

Prof. Aryeetey again said that some people in the polytechnics believed that their stature would be enhanced by becoming Professors or Vice Chancellors and, therefore, they lobbied and put pressure on government to bow to their demands. We find this to be very unfortunate, especially coming from someone who is a Professor and Vice Chancellor. Is he saying that no one can become a Professor in the polytechnics? We wish to state emphatically clear that, we have several professors in the polytechnics, so we do not need to become technical universities before someone can become a Professor.

It is acknowledged that the polytechnics, like many other traditional universities, have challenges in relation to infrastructure, but the image being portrayed by the likes of Prof. Aryeetey is not accurate. They still think of the polytechnics as the ones they knew over ten (10) years ago. The polytechnics have indeed changed and they are poised to be converted into technical universities.

With regards to the human resources, the polytechnics are well-placed to match many of the traditional universities in Ghana. For instance, the Kumasi Polytechnic has very qualified and experienced teaching staff. Out of the total number of these teaching staff, 20.6% of them hold doctorate degrees and the rest have master’s degrees. By way of status or designation, the Kumasi Polytechnic has 1 full professor, 7 Associate professors, 97 senior lecturers and the rest are lecturers. This human resource, undoubtedly can match many of the traditional universities in Ghana. The era where technicians and first degree holders were teaching in the polytechnics is long gone and we expected the good Professor to have known that. All in all, the good Professor was arguing from a position of ignorance.

Currently, the polytechnics run programmes for technician and vocational certificates, ordinary diploma, higher diploma and bachelor’s degree. Thus, the highest level of programme offered by the polytechnics is the Bachelor of Technology (BTech). The graduates of the polytechnics have no further level of progression in the field of technical or vocational competencies after the BTech degree. This has resulted in many of these technically trained persons to pursue non-technical master’s degree programmes in the traditional universities and thereby abandoning their technical or vocational background. This happens because there is no progression for them in the polytechnics if they wish to pursue further studies. The conversion will therefore help the polytechnics to run master’s and doctoral programmes which will also be aimed at training highly skilled technical persons for industry and commerce.

To this end, we wish to entreat Prof. Aryeetey and many other like-minded people to refrain from casting doubt on the preparedness of the polytechnics to be converted into technical universities. No university got all the things they needed before they were established. The polytechnics have what it takes to be converted and it is expected that the debate must focus on how well the conversion should be managed in order to achieve positive results rather than seeking to malign the polytechnics as though they were not worthy of the conversion.

We also wish to appeal to Parliament to look at the Technical University Bill dispassionately and pass it into an Act as soon as practicable. We trust that our legislators will make the necessary recommendations and inputs that will promote the converted polytechnics and our tertiary education system as a whole.

To the government, we wish to request that the necessary actions be taken to deal with the challenges facing the other four polytechnics that could not meet the conversion criteria, so that they could also be converted as soon as possible.

Thank you.
Signed
Boadu Elijah Frimpong
Chairman

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Poly Conversion: K’si Poly Fights Aryeetey” for 1 comment

  1. See Ghanaian attitude .Prof.Aeyetey wants to be prof.1.What has legon achieved for Ghana? The only thing legon is doing is to train thieves to rule ghana. Keep mute ayeetey, you think speaking good English is wisdom.Swahili professor.