Technical Universities will curb youth unemployment – Mahama

President John Dramani Mahama has said the conversion of the nation’s Polytechnics into Technical Universities, will curb youth unemployment, alleviate poverty and create wealth.

He said the conversion had a strong link with training in medium and high level employable skills, which was the focus of Technical Universities.

He observed that the policy of government was ultimately to convert all Polytechnics into Technical Universities.

“It is in this vein that government commits to ensuring the successful implementation of the conversion in line with the nation’s economic restructuring and global competitiveness,” President Mahama made these remarks on Tuesday in Accra in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Fiifi Kwetey, Minister of Food and Agriculture, at the stakeholder Consultative Forum on the conversion of polytechnics into technical universities.

The forum on the theme: Repositioning Technical Education as a Driver of Economic Transformation and National Development,” brought together a number of distinguished personalities in the education sector for deliberations.

Its aim was to create the context for understanding and collaboration amongst all stakeholders and it was also a platform for a national discourse in a bid to fine tune on-going implementation processes towards the conversion.

President Mahama said the decision to convert Polytechnics into Technical Universities was carefully thought through.

He said major considerations included the need to re-brand technical education, deepen its relevance and give it the necessary support and attention for the country’s development.

“We envision the transformed Polytechnics to Technical Universities as institutions that have not merely assumed new names but a new culture and character with a more purposeful social contract with the tax payer.

“The decision of conversion is also to emphasize a close engagement with the world of work without necessarily disengaging with the requisite academic orientation of higher education institutions,” President Mahama said.

“The new universities will be the bridge between the world of science and industry. They will forge a symbiotic relationship with industry by utilizing the resources of industry for innovation and technological advancement of our country,” he added.

He said: “We cannot transform the economy of this country by doing business as usual. We must put premium on knowledge generation and creativity to create a knowledge-based economy.

“Re-branding of our Polytechnics is one of the strategic objectives for driving the change. We must carefully execute the process in order to carve a desirable future for our present and next generation.”

President Mahama said government had taken note of the recommendations by the Technical Committee which had set the effective start date of converting the Polytechnics to Technical Universities for September, 2016.

He said government acknowledged the various challenges in our quest to economic transformation, and would continue to put in place interventions aimed at meeting the needs of the citizenry.

The President observed that despite these challenges, successes had been made in ensuring that our educational system produced the human capital with the right mix of skills to propel our economic agenda.

He said government through the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training in collaboration with Amatrol, had provided state-of-the-art equipment to the Takoradi and Kumasi polytechnics for training in Engineering.

President Mahama said about six laboratories in each Polytechnic have been equipped and built at a cost of five million dollars,  in areas such as electronics, pumping systems, advance manufacturing, solar and wind technology.

He said the facility would be extended to the Ho, Koforidua and Tamale Polytechnics, adding that government allocated an amount of four million Ghana Cedis through GETFund in the 2014 budget for the project, adding that this year’s allocation would increase as part of processes for the conversion to technical university status.

The President commended the Technical Committee for a good work done, and extended government’s appreciation to Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dient (DAAD) for their assistance.

Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, Minister of Education, announced that the Technical Universities Draft Bill to enhance the process had also been completed.

Dr George Afeti, Chairman of the Technical Committee on the Conversion of Polytechnics in Ghana to Technical Universities, presented the report’s recommendation to the forum.

He urged the Ministry of Education to take steps to quickly sign a Memorandum of Understanding with DAAD to bring into full effect the contents of the letter of intent signed with DAAD in April 2014.

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