Ghana’s high unemployment numbers have been blamed on neglect of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
Industry players say the over-concentration on social sciences at the expense of entrepreneurial and artisanal training limits the urge of graduates to start and own businesses.
Executive Director of Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET), Dr Fred Kyei Asamoah, said it is time to make TVET education critical.
“TVET is a hands-on competency-based, people say it is expensive but for me, I don’t buy it. Because every country that sees the need, they will make resources available to help the economy.
“Because when you train them they don’t become unemployed, they become people who generate your resource so whatever you put in, you get it back”.
These came to light at a public forum on TVET, under the theme, “building a solid foundation for TVET education in Ghana”, in Kumasi.
This public forum brought together different stakeholders in the TVET sector to dialogue and bring to the attention policymakers the challenges of the sector and also to establish a very strong voice for change.
Effects of politics in education
In 2006, government introduced the Competency-Based Teaching (CBT) in TVET Education.
It was meant to train the hand alongside the minds to make students more artisanal, but this initiative was however truncated, with the change of government in 2017.
“Per the government white paper 2006, it made it clear that there should be a radical transformation and make TVET a credible alternative to Ghana education and that was 13 years ago.
“So if we had focused on that and transformed our education sector, we should have transformed our country and by now we should be far away just like, Malaysia, Singapore, South Koreans have made etc,” Dr Asamoah observed.
He noted, however, that some of the causes can be attributed to change of government.
He believes if stakeholders were consistently advocating for it, then a change of government will not have been an issue.
“Because 2006 was NPP and 2008 NDC came so if something is not your baby it is difficult for you to align with it.
“Policies can be formulated but the implementation is always the challenge. And as a result, if the government does not have implementation strategies to drive it, it becomes a mere policy, “and that has been our challenge as a country”.
Dr. Asamoah believes advocacy and strategy to compel successive governments to stick to this type of training is the way to go in creating jobs.
“…The point is that, let's make strategies to get more technical and vocational schools and change the perception. So if the youth are attracted to TVET and they know it will solve their unemployment they will.”
Sway attention from humanities to TVET
For Dr. Asamoah, unemployment is created by default because the country continues to focus on liberal and humanities instead of TVET.
“…and so if you focus all your strategies, resources and activities on the 20 percent, then by default you are creating unemployment.
When your focus should be on the 80 percent because by now we should have more technical and vocational schools, resourced (financial resources also) and equipped and then we will solve our problems”.
Chairman of the committee, Prof. Ransford Gyampoh, says there should be renewed emphasis and focus on TVET than on training people and producing them in the area of humanities.
“We have failed as a nation, the earlier we appreciate and recognize the fact that we have failed, and demand that we all focus on TVET, the better for us, the days where those who are not receptive to humanities training were regarded as downtrodden and dumb, I think those days should be long gone.
We should get brilliant students and encourage them to pursue technical and vocational education.”
He continues that, “Over the years, we spent a lot of times pouring water on stones as if we are educating and training.
The more we educate, the poorer we become because we are educating and putting all our emphasis and focus in a direction that requires only about 5 percent of our concentration (humanities).”
The desire to have a well-functioning technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system that responds to the social and economic needs of the nation as led to the formation of a TVET advocacy committee.
The Committee has been created under the auspices of the VTF programme, a Christian-based NGO committed to providing support service to enhance the effective delivery of TVET in Ghana which will eventually transform the lives of people.
Since the assumption of its role, the advocacy committee has been concerned with the lack of information and education of the importance of the sector and its potential for solving most societal challenges.
A number of initiatives have been outlined by the committee to draw the attention of stakeholders and the general public on the need to place more value on the TVET sector by influencing policy decisions.
Prof. Gyampoh continued that, the forum must at the end, be able to keep government on its toes to turn attention to the sector.
“We are not here for any political party, we are here for Ghana. So let us have frank discussions so if it is necessary to call on government and policymakers to tell them that they have goofed, they are majoring on very minor issues and that they should major in major issues so far as our education is in concern.
For him, the Committee must resolve to champion TVET with all their strength and efforts.
“Let us do so with all our energy and strength and from here go and resolve that we will be championing TVET. If we have to tell them this in their face, then we must. We should be saying it over and over again until Government shifts its attention on TVET education”, he said.
The forum is being organised on the heels of the just-ended annual general meeting (AGM) of the Network on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NETTVET) held from September 1 to 3, 2019 in Kumasi.