A former rector of Ho polytechnic and the Chairman for the technical committee on the conversion of polytechnics to technical universities, Dr G. M. Afeti, has underscored the need for adequate funding for the training of students of the proposed converted polytechnics, to make the system comparable with international standards.
According to him, there was the need to bridge the huge gap between the current funding levels, adding that the government currently spent less than GH¢3,000 per year on a student in a polytechnic in the country, while in Germany, for example, the government spent the cedi equivalent of between GH¢15,000 and GH¢21,000 on every student in a university of applied sciences per year.
Dr Afeti, who had just returned from a study tour of technical universities in Germany, was delivering a paper on the topic, “Upgrading of Polytechnic to Technical Universities: Prospects and Challenges”, to mark the launch of the Students Representative (SRC) Week of the Ho Polytechnic in Ho earlier this month.
Eligibility for conversion
He said each polytechnic should be considered on its own merit against an agreed set of eligibility criteria and that a knowledgeable implementation panel might be constituted to confirm the eligibility of each polytechnic for conversion to technical university status.
Some of the eligibility requirement mentioned were institutional, teaching staff and collaboration with industry, adding that a department should be headed by at least a senior lecturer preferably with a PhD., in addition to the department having three full-time lecturers with at least research masters degrees and at least one of who must have professional or work place experience.
Dr Afeti noted that the proposal to convert polytechnics into technical universities had political, academic, technical and financial dimensions and loaded with a lot of prospects and challenges.
Justification for conversion
He said the rationale and justification for converting the polytechnics to technical universities included repositioning the polytechnics as strategic institutions for the training of highly skilled human resource to drive economic growth; and enhancing the image of the polytechnics and the attractiveness of technical and vocational education and training.
He disclosed that converted polytechnics or future technical universities in Ghana were to be modelled along the lines of the University of Applied Sciences (UAS) in Germany or Universities of Technology in South Africa or the Technical Universities in Kenya.
Dr Afeti cautioned that the reform process should be undertaken strategically with success as the objective and that past mistakes associated with the upgrading of the polytechnics to tertiary status in 1992 should be avoided.
The Rector of the Ho polytechnic, Dr Jakpasu Victor Kofi Afun, said the polytechnic was virtually qualified for the conversion and by the end of the year, it would acquire accreditation to increase the award of B-Tech programmes from four to seven.
Credit: Tim Dzamboe/Graphic Online