General News of Wednesday, 9 December 2015
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has called for collaboration between African polytechnics and industry to solve the numerous problems facing the continent such as unemployment, energy and diseases,
He has accordingly underscored the need for the review of the curricula of most of the continent’s training institutions, to meet the demands of industry, particularly so as he said, most of the current courses were out-dated and did not necessarily respond to the needs of industry and the labour market.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu made the call in an address read for him by the Akyeampemhene, Oheneba Adusei Poku, at the opening session of this year’s Commonwealth Association of Polytechnics in Kumasi Tuesday.
The four-day conference, which has assembled the best brains in Africa and beyond, is on the theme, “Enhancing partnerships between training institutions and industry for accelerated development in Africa”.
The Asantehene urged Africans to rise up and adopt the emerging trends because “the world is not waiting for Africa,” adding, “We must follow the global trends of collaboration among institutions in order to reap the full benefits of synergy.”
He noted that technology seemed to always outpace Africa’s training institutions in terms of the demand and preferences of consumers.
“It must be reiterated that training strategies of the 20th Century Africa cannot solve the problems of the 21st Century, given the rapidity of change we face as a people,” he stressed.
Using the production of mobile phones as an example, Otumfuo Osei Tutu said if students were taught skills that would enable them to produce those phones locally and to the taste of consumers, “we will obviously experience rapid socio-economic development.”
While urging the polytechnics to rebrand, the Asantehene also appealed to the stakeholders to provide the necessary resources to actualise that ambition.
The former Chief Executive Officer of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, who also addressed the participants, called on the government to scrap both the National Service Scheme (NSS) and the politically-motivated employment modules and replace them with technical and vocational education programmes.
He said rather than the government planning to convert the various polytechnics into technical universities, it should focus on building universities of allied sciences.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng added that the term ‘technical university connotes a focus on theoretical courses, or the building of capacities in academia, as well as research, while a university of allied sciences focuses on vocational and technical training to address industrial needs.
He further proposed that should the option be accepted, internship programmes should be mandatory as part of the curriculum and an agreement should be signed with industry for a symbiotic association to motivate the students.
The Heart Surgeon said unlike the case of the technical institutions which were elevated to polytechnics without the upgrade of both facilities and staff, the universities of allied sciences should be built.