Viam Africa has described as premature the conversion of polytechnics into technical universities.

The educational think tank believes the policy which is modelled along the German technical university policy is hasty and will fail if government does not proceed cautiously.

A statement issued and signed by the Executive Director of the think tank, Dr. Prince Armah said government should slow down the policy implementation for at least two more years, by which time all pending issues would have been resolved.

In 2013, President John Mahama announced to Parliament, government's decision to convert polytechnics into technical universities.

An eight-member committee, chaired by Dr. George Afeti was constituted to look into the possibility of executing the policy.

Amongst the terms of reference of the committee was to review the key characteristics of a Technical University; highlight the differentiating characteristics of a converted polytechnic as a technical university from a traditional university; recommend eligibility criteria for converting a Polytechnic to a Technical University;  recommend a strategy for converting the 10 polytechnics to technical universities, with particular reference to whether all the polytechnics should be converted at the same time or on a polytechnic-by-polytechnic basis; to formulate the broad mandate for the converted polytechnics as technical universities.

After thorough discussions with stakeholders, the committee, among other things proposed the enactment of a new law that will ground the execution of technical university policy as well explore new funding opportunities for the new policy.

Government has since converted six polytechnics into technical universities, a move that has triggered some level of controversy with the four remaining polytechnics demanding an immediate conversion.

VIAM Africa believes the conversion of the six polytechnics is premature and questionable because all the necessary arrangements have not been concluded.

"Presently, institutional and programme accreditation requirements of the National Accreditation Board, together with other statutory institutional affiliation arrangements have not been concluded.

This makes the premature conversion of Takoradi and Koforidua Polytechnics into technical universities questionable when their University statutes appear not to have been enacted by Parliament as required by law, VIAM said in a statement.

Dr. Armah would rather a comprehensive secondary education system is adopted, one in which "general secondary education (GSE) and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) are delivered in the same school, with the view to stimulating a ‘parity of esteem’ between GSE and TVET."

"We would advise government to slow down the conversion process, until at least two years. This would allow for a complete review of their curriculum and ensure they meet proper accreditation requirements, whilst addressing the structural weaknesses (e.g. progression) in the technical/vocational training system," the statement said.

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