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Educational system failing to turn students into entrepreneurs – GIMPA Dean

The Dean of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Business School, has bemoaned how the country's colonial educational system is failing in its responsibility to train students to become entrepreneurs. 

Prof. Samuel Kwaku Bonsu says the schools only succeed in imbibing in students the skills to become employees of already existing firms but industry is unable to absorb the high number of graduates every year, leading to massive graduate unemployment.

“We still run a colonial form of education. You know when education started in this country, it was intended for a very specific purpose, to get people to be civil servants of a particular kind. So it was designed for you to follow structures. You couldn’t be different,” he noted.

“Now we have matured and I would have hoped that as part of that the maturity, we would have adjusted the way we train young people to allow them to be more creative and inquisitive to ask the appropriate questions but we are not doing that,” he added.

Prof. Bonsu was speaking at the Dream Oval Summit on the campus of GIMPA organized by the Today’s Entrepreneurship Network (TEN Ghana). The summit was under the theme: “Do Business schools frame students’ minds adequately for entrepreneurship?”

The GIMPA Dean said the system of education in the country is only training people to pass exams which is not good enough.

“Our educational system is very much like that… we hear things and want to reproduce exactly what we hear. We learn to pass exams,” he noted.

He was particularly critical of the university education system, saying; “We don’t learn to think. We are not critical in our assessment and you see this starting from the early stage of our formal system.

"The universities haven’t helped at all because I have seen this at various universities in Ghana. In other parts of the world, there is a conscious effort to expose you to the reality of business to create opportunities for you to think.’

Sandy Osei Agyeman, Board chairman of the Ghana Export Authority (GEPA) told the summit pursuing formal education is good but is not the most important requirement to be a successful businessman.

A section of students who participated in the Summit

"For you young ones coming out of college or university, you don’t need a college degree to be successful as a businessman. I graduated with a degree in finance but it wasn’t good for me. So I went to one of the best universities in America to do a master’s degree because my thinking was that I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur.

"However, if it fails, at least I have a college degree, I can go and work for somebody else. So what you get with a college degree is an insurance policy,” he said.

John Kumah, Chief Executive Officer of the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan observed with concern that the educational system was overly focused on encouraging young people to pursue white collar jobs.

He said it has become routine for people to get educated and get employed.

"By the time you finish your graduation, those who couldn’t make it pass JHS have opened FM stations and have become big businessmen, then you send your application for them to employ you as their managing director. That concept must be changed,” he said.

“Whiles you are schooling, you should be able to think about how you can translate your academic knowledge into business to help those who didn’t get the opportunity. Let reverse the equation. 

"Don’t let it be the school dropouts creating business opportunities for graduates. That is what is currently happening in this country and we can only reverse it when young educated people get involved in entrepreneurship,” Mr. Kumah added.

A section of students who participated in the Summit

Georgette Barnes Sakyi-Addo, who is CEO of Women in Mining encouraged young females to be bold in the pursuit of their entrepreneurial goals.

More than 1000 young entrepreneurs, tertiary and senior high school students participated in the Dream Oval Summit on the campus of GIMPA in Accra. The summit seeks to mentor young people to take up entrepreneurship as a means to sustainable employment.

Founder of TEN Ghana Kelvin Atuguba who opened the summit called on the youth to engage in entrepreneurship at an early age.

He called for more support for young entrepreneurs from various stakeholders including government and the private sector. The session was moderated by Special Advisor at the Ministry of Business Development, Afua Asabea Asare.

This year’s edition was a doubleheader as the second session hit the campus of St. Louis Senior High School in Kumasi, where final year students were taken through entrepreneurship training.