Phyllis Naa Koryoo Okunor, a Kasoa (Awutu Senya East) native and one of the rising stars in Ghanaian politics has made a bold and ambitious policy statement that if implemented by the incoming NDC government under President John Mahama and Vice-President Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, would transform vocational training and education in Ghana.
Naa Koryoo, who grew up in Kasoa and been involved in local politics since her student days, in an interview with this writer in her constituency office in Kasoa said, “Vocational Training and Education department would be set up in all the 10 Technical Universities across the country to educate Ghanaian youth to acquire the need skills for work.
Naa Koryoo’s constituency of Awutu Senya East (Kasoa) is one of the constituencies in the country with huge youth unemployment and single young mothers. She said as a native and youth activist growing up in her hometown of Kasoa and the constituency she hopes to represent in the Ghanaian Parliament, has witnessed many lives lost to unemployment and lack of opportunities, that if policies are not put in place fast to train and offer opportunities and skills to the youth, a whole generation of young people’s lives would be blighted and lost forever.
Naa Koryoo said although Ghana discovered oil and gas over a decade ago, over 90 percent of Ghanaians do not have a stake in the proceeds of the oil wealth, because it is being looted by the political elite. She said a fund would be set aside to train young entrepreneurs who would go on to set up businesses and employ more Ghanaian youth.
Naa Koryoo said the Vocational Training and Education would be targeted at the unemployed youth such as the numerous hawkers across the length and breadth of the country, the Kaya girls, and those who dropped out of school due to poor academic results or poverty.
She said every Ghanaian would be given a stake in Ghana’s oil and gas wealth. Naa Koryoo said those who are managing the country’s wealth are being put on notice that every cedi would be accounted for. Naa Koryoo rhetorically ask, “how can the NPP government spend over $9.5 million USD to feed 450,000 in Accra for 2 weeks during the COVID19 locked down without being about to account for the money spent?” and said they will account for every cent.
She said the vocational education would provide job-specific programs focused on providing students with hands-on instruction and would lead to a diploma or certificate, thus forgoing traditional academics for those who wish to pursue trade programs while there would be an academic component for those who would wish to continue to full time higher education programs.
Naa Koryoo said for the first time in her country’s history, higher education would be open to all Ghanaians, poor or rich, young or old, male or female including disabled. These Vocational Training and Education would be structured as a standalone faculty of the Technical Universities where grandaunts would be awarded their Certificates and Diplomas on graduation day “OUR DAY” alongside with those graduating with higher qualifications.
According to Naa Koryoo, some of the programs would be a continuation from the vocational courses taught at Junior and High schools and variety of courses and work experiences which would be designed to introduce students to different types of trade, including apprenticeship programs such as Dressmaking, Carpentry, Bricklaying, Electrical apprenticeship, Car Mechanic, Baking, Brickmaking/Masonry, Agriculture, Building Construction etc.
Naa Koryoo said most of the programs would be training off-site under the supervision of professionals and would be assessed at where they are trained. Naa Koryoo said these skills gained would prepare students for work in specific trades, thus helping in the industrialisation of Ghana.
Naa Koryoo said countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Vietnam, and others all have such programs in place to mop up those who dropped out of formal education to acquire skills and contribute their quota to the nation’s development.
She said under the scheme which would be youth-led would ensure hawking and kaya girls would be a thing of the past. Naa Koryoo, like the incoming Vice-President Naana Jane, is an anti-corruption crusader. She said under the NDC administration of President John Mahama and Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, no Ghanaian child would be left behind.
Naa Koryoo said during her interactions with some of the market women at her hometown of Kasoa, many expressed the wish to go back to school and learn how to read and write.
Naa Koryoo was visibly upset when she narrated the story of one of her constituents, Aunty Akosua. Like Naa Koryoo, Aunty Akosua was born and raised in Kasoa, the only girl of 5 siblings. Because of poverty, she was not able to continue her education after primary 6. Now Aunty Akosua, a successful market trader, confided in Naa Koryoo, that her only wish is to learn how to read and write.
Naa Koryoo said because of women such as Aunty Akosua and other mothers like her that she has dedicated her whole life to public service, to help eradicate illiteracy and poverty in her Hometown of Kasoa. She said, “Peter, this is my calling, to dedicate myself to the service of my constituents and my country, Ghana.
"Serving one’s country does not mean firing gunshots at registration centres to frightened innocent citizens registering to vote, or to flaunt looted state money and using thugs to intimate them”, she said that is thuggery and such people must be jailed.