The government has placed emphasis on technical and vocational education as a major pillar of national development.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who made the declaration, said empowering vocational and technical educational institutions would help produce market-ready graduates.
He said if key stakeholders paid greater attention to technical and vocational training, where the skills essential for the contemporary economy might be developed, the economy would be radically transformed.
Speaking at the 92nd Speech and Prize-giving Day of the St Augustine's College in Cape Coast last Saturday, the President insisted that the government was on course with the necessary investments in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions to provide students with holistic education in their respective fields, well cut for the job market.
"The strategy is to expand technical and vocational opportunities at both secondary and tertiary levels and thereby strengthen the linkages between education and industry, as well as empower young people to deploy their skills and employ themselves and others," he stated.
The event, which was on the theme: "Redefining education delivery in a technological age: The role of St Augustine’s College”, was sponsored by the 1997 Year Group of old students.
Present was the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, and the Central Regional Minister, Justina Marigold Assan.
Coordinating TVET activities
President Akufo-Addo stated that as part of the government's objective to make TVET a basic pillar of the educational sector, second-cycle technical institutions were being overhauled.
He emphasised that the government was retooling the whole educational sector, including TVET as a component, and that most second-cycle technical institutes were undergoing renovations.
"The government, in view of the challenge facing the TVET sector, has initiated a number of policy measures in improving the coordination of the TVET sector and enhancing the effectiveness of the operations of training institutions," the President said.
“We have taken concrete steps towards redeeming the misconception that technical and vocational education is inferior and patronised by intellectually and financially less endowed students," he added.
He explained that the Ministry of Education was undertaking cutting-edge policies to achieve its objective of the 60-40 science-humanities ratio enrolment in senior high schools (SHSs) for its transformation agenda.
To that end, he said: "The construction of eight module STEM high schools and 20 STEM centres across the country, all at various stages of completion, together with the construction of the Accra STEM Academy, is one of the pragmatic steps the government is taking to promote the advancement of science and technology education in Ghana.”
President Akufo-Addo addressing a parade mounted by the Cadet Corps of the St Augustine's College in Cape Coast last Saturday
President Akufo-Addo emphasised that practical steps must be taken to guarantee that graduates were not just market ready but also capable of contributing their fair share to Ghana's progress, as other countries had done.
"Countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea, with whom we began the independence journey, have stripped us today by far in terms of development and they did so because they made the fundamental decision to transform their economies from raw material, low productivity agrarian economies to value-added, high productivity industrial economies, and it is the same transformation we must engineer," he said.
He stressed that those countries' strong investment in TVET education had propelled them to their current status as industrial greats.
The President urged heads of schools to do a better job of supervising teaching and learning and developing new strategies to track the success of academic activities, "while the government does its part to provide the necessary tools and atmosphere for modern science learning."
On the economic challenges, President Akufo-Addo said every country on the face of the planet was going through challenges brought forth largely by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ghana is not the only country faced with extraordinary increases in global freight rates, strong inflationary pressures, dramatically rising fuel prices, unprecedented volatility of stock markets and tighter global financing conditions. These are global phenomena,” he said.
He said the GH¢100 billion Ghana Coronavirus Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES) programme was sure to turn the fortunes of the country around and enhance prosperity for all.
“Nonetheless, the government continues to work hard to address these issues, and I am certain that sooner, rather than later, our economy, through the implementation of the government’s GH¢100 billion Ghana CARES Obaatanpa Programme, will rebound from the ravages of the pandemic, bringing in its wake stability, development, progress and prosperity for all Ghanaians,” the President stated.
The Chairperson of the Anniversary Celebrations, Kofi Adomako, called on the Ministry of Education and other relevant stakeholders to place greater focus on the teaching and learning of information and communications technology (ICT), which he described as a critical basic skill needed for self actualisation and economic development.
He emphasised that in order to prepare Ghana's youth for the global digital shift, schools must provide more practical teaching and learning in computer skills for students in order to train them to become problem solvers.
"Make the learning and teaching of ICT a priority to ensure that we produce graduates who can become problem solvers to ensure exponential growth in all sectors of our economy," Mr Adomako stated.
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast and Patron of the college, the Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, advised students to use the Internet to advance their studies, instead of for unrelated pursuits that had little influence on their academic progress.
Awards were given to deserving teachers and students.
President Akufo-Addo also inaugurated an expanded ICT laboratory for the school and a new chapel.
He pledged to present a 60-seater bus to the school.