Ghana must prioritise Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) using the concept of differentiation and diversification to address “the missing link” in her educational system towards achieving rapid technological development and stemming the rising unemployment levels.
Dr Paul Effah, a former Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), stated this when he gave a lecture at the maiden Rector’s Distinguished Lecture series at the Ho Polytechnic.
It was on the theme: “The role of the New Technical Universities in the improvement and implementation of the concept of TVET.”
He cited the Netherlands, United States, Canada and Thailand as countries, which had that system saying, “The Dutch Higher Education system has two distinct types of study programme, the professional-oriented and research oriented programmes.”
“In 2006, that country had 41 universities of Applied Sciences and “only 14 Research Universities” with enrolment in the universities of Applied Sciences constituting two-thirds of all students in higher education,” Dr Effah said.
“In 2004, ninety per cent of the students of the universities of Applied Sciences who graduated found jobs within three months.
“The benefit to ‘business’ in that country is the contribution in knowledge and innovation that the students and their teachers bring”.
He observed that the nature and structure of the universities of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands and the kind of collaboration that existed between them provided lessons for Ghana, if differentiation should have “meaning and applicability.”
“The United States of America’s (USA’s) variant of differentiation in higher education has the community colleges at the base with the ‘ grant colleges’ and state universities in the middle to deal with problems of Agriculture, Mechanical Arts, and the Trades dating back to the Boston Convention of 1848,” Dr Effah noted.
He said the land grant colleges, which became great state universities, were tasked to study and assist in finding solutions to the problems facing America, which related to Agriculture.
“The study of Mechanical Arts and the Trades was taken seriously,” he added.
He said in 1989 America had 12,300 post-secondary institutions, 2,070 of them being four-year colleges and 8,956 vocational and technical institutions, “thus emphasising the importance of TVET.”
“At the top of the US differentiated Higher Education System are the Research Universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and others, many of which are private.” he explained.
“Unlike the British Higher Education System, which did not prioritise TVET and career-focused education, the American system promoted it,” Dr Effah said.
Referring to the (Association of University Colleges, 1989), Dr Effah said: “The Canadian system of higher education is described as “diverse, vibrant and dynamic offering a mix of opportunities in the variety of educational settings.”
He observed that in addition to the universities, the Canadian post –secondary system in 1989 included 175 community colleges responding to the training needs of business, industry and public service, as well as the educational needs of vocational-oriented secondary school graduates.
“In Africa, Kenya offers a recent example of a technical university to focus work on related disciplines,” Dr Effah indicated.
He said, “In Thailand, TVET is making significant progress in training skilled, semi-skilled, technician and technologists for the labour market”.
“It has more than 800 public and private institutions providing TVET to one million students in formal programmes,” he said.
TVET’s mission in Thailand has been to achieve a number of bench-marks such as quality, standard, efficiency, demand-driven, opportunities, continuation, articulation, variety, youth and adult, cooperation, mutual benefit, partnership, modern and international standard.
The others are Technology, ICT, indigenous knowledge and workplace learning, on- the-job training, practical experience and enjoyable learning. GNA