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Ghana’s COVID-19 response: let’s not leave TVET behind

BY: Kamal Deen Habib
The writer, Kamal Deen Habib
The writer, Kamal Deen Habib

Between 2014 and 2016, the number of Technical and Vocational Institutes in Ghana declined from 185 to 164. This contributed to lower Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) enrolment of 53,171, compared with the amassed enrolment of 851,312 into Senior High Schools (SHSs). 

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and the International Labor Organisation (ILO), TVET refers to “aspects of the educational process involving, in addition to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences, and the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupants in various sectors of economic and social life."

From the definition above, there is no doubt that a functional TVET is crucial in moving Ghana’s economy forward and improving on the socio-economic wellbeing of the youth. Unfortunately, till date, not much has been done to advance TVET skills development for the Ghanaian economy to fully benefit from TVET as many developed countries have.

TVET transformation agenda in Ghana:

With the mission to deliver high quality employable skills and industry related TVET qualifications which are recognized by local and international labour markets, Ghana’s TVET transformation agenda by government in 2017 encouraged youth to venture into TVET programs.

A deputy ministerial position was created and the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) was resourced heavily to harmonisation and coordinate this transformation. These were in line with the 5-year TVET transformation strategy which aimed at equipping students with relevant productive and entrepreneurial skills related to TVET courses in order to prepare them for the world of work.

According to this strategy, poor public perception of TVET, coupled with low quality of instruction due to inadequate instructor training, and lack of instructional support and infrastructure are among the key challenges technical and vocational education faces in this country.

Some of the anticipated changes in the sector include the review of curriculum, increased investment in infrastructure, and the promise to fully include TVET in the current free SHS program by September, 2020.

Ghana’s situation of teaching and learning under COVID19

The spread of COVID-19 and associated restrictions to contain the pandemic resulted in a global shut down of schools and training institutions at all levels including technical and vocational education.

Since the lockdown in March, 2020, government of Ghana together with other stakeholders in education innovatively put in measures to minimize the negative effect COVID-19 would have on teaching and learning. Ghana Education Service regularly broadcast various subject topics on a dedicated television channel called Ghana Learning (GL) TV.

Joy Learning TV which is a channel of the Multimedia Group Limited is also complementing government’s efforts to keep students actively studying despite Covid-19. Most schools have resorted to online platforms like YouTube, websites, Zoom, MS Teams, Google Hangouts, and WhatsApp to continue engaging students.

Worrying situation

From a quick scan of the digital learning space, it is clear that TVET has been left behind. This, as far as I am concerned, will further discriminate against and lower public interests in TVET.

In the ministry’s allocation of time to virtual learning, there has been allocations to basic, secondary and tertiary education without any allocation to TVET for which a deputy ministerial position has been created, just like the other segments of education ministry.

Surprising to every TVET stakeholder is that despite the heavy investment in COTVET, the only inactive component of their website is the E-learning component when the public needs it the most. This should have been active to give some form of virtual teaching and learning to TVET students.

Conclusion

TVET remains a key solution in tackling unemployment and in dealing with joblessness among the youth in Ghana. The country has seen increased job losses among the youth as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. If discriminatory measures continue in the e-learning environment, the TVET sector would not be supported in the long run and the hope to improve Ghana’s economy through technical and vocational education shall never become a reality. I therefore call on the education ministry and COTVET to be innovative in bringing virtual teaching and learning to TVET students in the country.


The writer, Kamal Deen Habib, who is an Economic Empowerment Specialist works for Plan International Ghana's Girls Advocacy Alliance Project