Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Presidential Advisor to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed deep concern over the issue of graduate unemployment in Ghana.
He describes it as alarming and posing a threat to national security.
Osafo-Maafo attributed the challenge to the structure of the education system which places much focus on theory-based learning instead of practicals.
He pointed out that the increasing number of universities, 95 in total, has contributed to the mismatch between the graduates and the demands of the job market.
Addressing the matter during the 23rd General Meeting of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana at Kwahu Abetifi, Osafo-Maafo lamented the lack of practical programmes in Ghanaian universities.
“Anytime I look at tertiary education I become nervous. When I was Minister of Education, there were five or four universities belonging to the government and one private but as I speak we have 95 universities with almost a 100 training people but no hand on skills.
“Fundamentally very few will come out with hand on skills so what is going to happen it’s scary. We need to do some serious retrospection about the education system,” he stressed.
He highlighted the urgent need for a change in the course structure of tertiary education, emphasising the importance of introducing more technical courses that align with the job market's needs.
“I am very uncomfortable about what I am seeing from the tertiary education system and the outcome of the unemployment arising out of the educational system.
“You can’t go from five to about 100 universities in about 15 years and none of the universities is technical.
“We’ve converted all our Polytechnics into universities for reasons I don’t understand. We had Polytechnics which were doing far more humanity subjects than even technical subjects.
“And as Minister for Education, I invited all the Polytechnics and wanted to question why they were doing certain courses; when I went through the exercise with them I withdrew my complaint because this was what was happening.
“All those who have done very well in maths and science want to do Engineering and others, Science and Medicine so at the end of the A level or O level you hardly have any very good maths or science students left.
“They’ve all gone to other places so if you want people with a maths background you won’t get,” he explained.
He commended the Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, for his initiative to introduce pre-engineering programs for students without a science background.
This move, according to Osafo-Maafo, addresses a crucial aspect of the problem.
To find a comprehensive solution to the issue, Osafo-Maafo proposed a collaboration between government and churches, specifically citing the Presbyterian Church of Ghana's extensive experience in education.
“The government and the churches need to sit down on the drawing board and think again.
“We can’t continue like this, because unemployment is a serious problem and it is becoming a security problem we need to resolve,” he said.