Polytechnics to gain university status – Vice-president

The legislative instrument that will change Ghana’s polytechnics into technical universities is ready to be put before parliament to be debated, according to Vice-president Kwesi Amissah-Arthur.

“The draft bill and guidelines to be used to convert polytechnics to technical universities is ready and will help re-brand technical and vocational education as well as ensure a closer link between the world of work and training of personnel with technical skills,” he told the 15th congregation of the University for Development Studies, Wa Campus.

In addition, Amissah-Arthur said, a review of teacher training programmes was being conducted. “At the same time, the migration of colleges of education to full tertiary status is almost complete with the passage of the enabling Act and harmonised states,” Amissah-Arthur added.

“The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission is working with the National Council for Tertiary Education to complete all aspects of the migration.”

Amissah-Arthur said Ghana’s desire to transform from a low middle-income country could only be realised through research and the training of high-level manpower with appropriate scientific and technological skills, adding: “We cannot develop through the sale of oil and other primary products only.”

Accordingly, it was necessary for the country to invest in research and innovation for added value and economic transformation.

The government, he said, was committed to solving the problem of inadequate funding of research and that plans to set up a National Research Fund were advanced.

This fund has been a major point of contention between the government and university lecturers for most of the year because academics do not want it to replace the current research fund, which pays all researchers stipends for research work.

The University for Development Studies, which started in 1993 with 40 students, now has a student population in excess of 19,000 – and he described this as a “remarkable achievement, given the challenges the university faces”. He was pleased that the university was increasingly offering postgraduate programmes at the masters and doctoral levels.

Amissah-Arthur urged the university to work to improve agriculture, especially in the Savannah belt where it is sited. And he promised that the government “will continue to provide support through the provision of research grants”.