Technical universities should be problem-solving oriented, Professor Takyiwaa Manuh, the Director of the Social Development Policy Division of the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), has said.
In an interview in Yiwu, China, Prof. Manuh said technical universities across the globe had proved to be problem-solvers, adding that Ghana’s technical universities must also prove that they could solve problems such as waste management and produce rudimentary tools and labour-saving devices for farmers.
“But if people are still going to do 70 to 80 per cent classroom work, with a very little practical component, then I do not see that the mere change of name or designation will change or do much,” she observed.
Change in name
Prof. Manuh, who is a former Director of the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana, Legon, stated that the conversion of the polytechnics to technical universities should not just be by fiat but must be accompanied by the requisite technical lecturers and equipment to do all those things required of technical universities.
She emphasised that Ghana needed to do a lot more in the area of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and explained that it was only through technical education that students acquired the skills that were needed for industrialisation.
Prof. Manuh noted that only eight per cent of secondary school students were enrolled in TVET.
That situation, she explained, had come about because TVET had been seen as an area for those who were not academically gifted.
She urged African countries, particularly Ghana, to take advantage of the co-operation with China to expand and raise the profile of TVET.
She said China had the experience and expertise in TVET in skilling its workforce, adding that most developed countries used technical and vocational training to industrialise.
Jettison our system
Prof. Manuh said products of TVET, including the technical universities, should be capable of solving the problems in their environment, especially converting waste into wealth, energy, fertiliser, among other solutions.
That, she stated, would further require that TVET was jettisoned or modified if the current system was not working.
She said while we sought support from China or any part of the world, the solutions must be locally led and directed, not the supporting country “parachuting us to tell us what or how we should do it”.