The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is to spend over 2.5 million Canadian dollars in the next five years, on the Development of Rural Entrepreneurship Project (DREP) for the Polytechnics in the three Northern regions.
Primarily, the Government of Canada through the CIDA, would fund the project, while the Ghanaian partner institutions would provide a total of 357.7 thousand Canadian dollars in the form of logistics, personnel and office accommodation.
As a component of the project and with the facilitation of the Nova Scotia Agriculture College (NSAC) in Canada, 25 entrepreneurship educators and five master educators, who received their training from the university, were on Monday, awarded certificates at a graduation ceremony at the Tamale Polytechnic.
The graduands, included students from the Wa Polytechnic in the Upper West Region and the Bolgatanga Polytechnic in the Upper East Region.
Dr. Steven Russelle, Project Director of the DREP, said the goal of the project was to increase access to and availability of demand-driven, appropriate and relevant entrepreneurship support for women and men in the three Northern Regions.
Dr. Russelle expressed the hope that the project would enhance the ability of the beneficiaries to start micro-enterprises and small businesses that would contribute to their empowerment.
Addressing the graduands, Mr. Kwame Amopfo-Twumasi, Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, recommended that entrepreneurship curriculum should be developed as a common component for all polytechnics.
He said the Polytechnics should be seen as training the individual for industry and self-employment and should therefore combine scholarship with entrepreneurship.
He said the vision of regional based polytechnics was to challenge the institutions to fill the manpower gaps in industry and commerce in the country and in the respective regions.
"This requires the creation of wealth, by undertaking research and development and creating economic spin-offs and employment and helping to reduce poverty".
He said it was in this light that the government had designed policies that would promote entrepreneurial mindset to handle risks, improve the flow of finance, as well as develop appropriate regulatory and administrative framework to encourage the creation of small-scale enterprises.
Mr. Ampofo-Twumasi observed that although there was unemployment in the system it was also equally true that some specific jobs were in short demand.
"There are quite a number of job openings, which have not been utilised because of lack of entrepreneurial knowledge and expertise," he said.
The Deputy Minister said rural entrepreneurship was a potent force in the development of the rural areas, adding that entrepreneurship education was one way this could be done.
Alhaji Yakubu Seidu Peligah, Principal of the Tamale Polytechnic, said the DREP was supporting the government's poverty reduction strategy by targeting women and the youth in the development of the private sector through the enhancement of the capacity of training institutions and community based organisations.
He expressed the hope that the project would help train and produce many "job creators" and not "job seekers' from the polytechnics.