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Providing students with hands-on skills: Technical universities show the way

BY: Victoria Aane-asaa Kuusangyele
Professor David Kofi Essumang — Vice Chancellor, KTU
Professor David Kofi Essumang — Vice Chancellor, KTU

Technical/ vocational institutions occupy a unique position in the educational system of the country as they provide hands-on, practical and entrepreneurial skills to students who ultimately graduate to meet the needs of various sectors of the labour market.

History is replete with examples of the significant roles technical universities and polytechnics have played in the socio-economic growth and human resource development of many nations. Indeed, with the upgrading of the Polytechnics into Technical Universities with the legal backing of the Technical Universities Act, 2016 (Act 922), the prospects for technical university graduates have even heightened.

To empower polytechnic education in Ghana, the government revised the original law, PNDC Law 321 of 1992, to govern the operations of polytechnics in the country.

The Technical Universities Act 2016, (Act 922) clearly spelt out the distinctive and important role of the technical universities in the context of national development and therefore, mandates the technical universities to train the needed manpower to manage and maintain the expected growing resources and technologies in industries.

With the passage of Act 2016, (Act 922), the expected output from polytechnics has received a new focus which demands that drastic and concerted efforts on the part of all stakeholders are made towards achieving the noble goals of providing the requisite enabling environment for teaching, learning and research. The technical universities in the country have their own governing councils and the right to design their own curricula, plan their management and development activities.

Mandate

The act mandates the technical university councils, to among other functions,

• Ensure the attainment of the aims of that technical university

• Determine the strategic direction of the technical university

• Be responsible for the management and administration of finances and properties of that technical university

• Promote applied research including the provision of technology innovations and solutions to firms and businesses as part of the outreach activities of that technical university

• Foster linkages and collaboration with relevant national and international industries and institutions in relation to matters affecting income or expenditure

• Ensure relevance of the programmes and courses of the technical university with the other sub-sectors of the educational system and be responsible for discipline in the technical university

For Ghana to meet the demands of the competitive world, there is therefore, the need for a more innovative and career-oriented higher education system that will meet the socio-economic and educational needs of the country.

Currently, the 10 technical universities are the Accra Technical University (ATU), Tamale Technical University (TATU), Takoradi Technical University (TTU), Sunyani Technical University (STU) and the Kumasi Technical University (KTU).

The others are the Takoradi Technical University, the Ho Technical University, the Cape Coast Technical University, the Bolgatanga Technical University and the Wa Technical University.

Koforidua @ 25

It is in this direction that the Koforidua Technical University has positioned itself, after 25 years of existence, to ensure that it lives up to the mission of producing the much-needed middle-level professionals with specific technical skills that help to drive the country’s industrialisation process.

With Innovating for Development as its motto, the Koforidua Technical University (formerly Koforidua Polytechnic) was established in March, 1997 in fulfilment of the vision of government that polytechnics should offer tertiary education with the mission of producing high-level, career-focused and skilled manpower to support the country’s industrial growth and thus advancing the middle-level manpower development of the country, aimed at consolidating the educational system.

As one of the 10 technical universities in the country, the Koforidua Technical University has over the years of its existence, grown into an institution of excellence, having churned out the much-needed middle-level professionals with specific technical skills that help to drive the country's industrialisation process.

Some students of the Koforidua Technical University in a science laboratory

From the initial ‘one block” structure (which labelled the institution as the “One Block Polytechnic”) in 1997, Koforidua Technical University has expanded exponentially in terms of student enrolment, programme diversity, faculty and infrastructure.

Keeping the importance of education in mind, the authorities of KTU continuously strive to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. The student population has been increasing and so have the teaching and non-teaching staff.

Programmes

Koforidua Technical University, which started with two (2) Higher National Diploma (HND) programmes in Marketing and Purchasing and Supply with forty-seven (47) students in 1997, currently boasts of five faculties, namely the Faculty of Applied Science and Technology (FAST), Faculty of Engineering (FoE), Faculty of Health and Allied Science (FHAS), Faculty of Built and Natural Environment (FBNE) and the Faculty of Business and Management Studies (FBMS), with over eight thousand (8,000) students.

The university evolves programmes and courses which will enable students to acquire relevant knowledge, skills and the right attitude for sustainable development. The university has taken the challenge by expanding and diversifying its programmes to include more technical and engineering programmes, the focal point of technical university education to prepare graduates with professional careers.