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Govt, academia must promote entrepreneurship in tertiary institutions

BY: Desmond Kofi Tawiah
  Mr Kwaku Ennin (left), CEO, Zeal Environmental Technologies with Prof. Ellis Owusu-Dabo (right),  and Mr Frederick Adu Amoako (middle), Chief Operating Officer, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Picture: NII MARTEY M. BOTCWAY
Mr Kwaku Ennin (left), CEO, Zeal Environmental Technologies with Prof. Ellis Owusu-Dabo (right), and Mr Frederick Adu Amoako (middle), Chief Operating Officer, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Picture: NII MARTEY M. BOTCWAY

The Pro Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo, has called for a closer collaboration between the government and academia in order to promote entrepreneurship in tertiary institutions.

He said for Africa to progressively close the gap with the rest of the world, it would need higher levels of growth, productivity and job creation.

That, he noted, would require countries to invest more strategically in key drivers of growth with higher education being an integral part.

"The primary responsibility of the university in this regard is research and the production of quality graduates to function in various areas of industries and organisations. The issues of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer have moved to the forefront in economic, social and industrial policy," Prof Owusu-Dabo stated.

Conference

Prof. Owusu-Dabo made this known at the African German Entrepreneurship Academy (AGEA) policy day conference held in Accra.

The aim of the conference was to create a platform for discussions to be held on promoting entrepreneurship and innovation among higher educational institutions and to create a network of support for entrepreneurial development among start-ups and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Education

In a keynote address on the contributions of practice- oriented entrepreneurship education for socio-economic development of Africa, the Chief Executive Officer of Zeal Environmental Technologies, Mr Kwaku Ennim, stressed the need for a shift in Ghana's educational system from theoretically oriented to skills focused.

He said the over reliance on exams and grades as the primary measure of competence of students was hampering the development of the entrepreneurial acumen of many students.

To address this challenge, Mr Ennin said there was the need to redesign the educational curriculum into competency-based learning for skills acquisition.

"We need to use multiple learning methods and simulations because lectures alone are not enough. There is the need to introduce design thinking and problem-solving approach into the curriculum to find practical solutions to socio-economic problems.

“There is the need to establish design thinking and innovation centres to serve as practice labs for entrepreneurship courses. If we teach entrepreneurship in a vacuum, we cannot solve socio-economic problems or create opportunities," he stated.

Private sector collaboration

Mr Ennin also called on the private sector to develop interest in the drive towards practice oriented teaching, learning and research, especially in tertiary, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions.

"They can allocate budget to support the academia to promote practice-oriented entrepreneurial training and research which will in turn benefit industry,” he added.