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02.04.2007 General News

Strengthen vocational & technical education

By dailyExpress

… participants at youth confab urge gov't

Participants at the 2007 Mentorship Conference for the youth have called on government to strengthen the vocational and technical institutions to enable them play their assigned roles more effectively.

The participants, drawn from both second cycle and tertiary institutions, were unhappy with the apparent neglect of vocational and technical institutions, making them unattractive to post secondary students.

Acknowledging that these institutions have a laudable role to play in the human resource development of the country, the youth complained about the persistent neglect and wanton denial of required resources.

“… why most students from the second cycle level are unwilling to go to either the vocational or the technical institutions is because they are not recognized by the government as a resource channel of educational advancement,” they said.

Continuing, the youth stated that the contributions of the two institutions have been down played by both government and society, and referred Ghanaians to countries like the United Kingdom where vocational and technical education is given maximum attention because “those governments understand what they stand for in the area of nation building.”

They criticized past and present governments for their attitude towards the plight of teachers in these institutions, with specific reference to the government's handling of the recent strike by Polytechnic teachers.

“At the time, most of the students were in the period of examination and the government continually dragged its feet. The only losers in this were the students,” they said.

Prince Quayson, a 2nd year student at the University of Cape Coast told dailyEXPRESS that “frustrated and not knowing what to do”, he enrolled at the University of Cape Coast after completing Accra polytechnic because he could not find the right job with his HND qualification.

“I was treated as if I had nothing at all in terms of education. The HND means nothing to most employers. Even here at the university, most of my colleagues occasionally make fun of those at that level as if they don't count,” he lamented.

Mr. Quayson who is studying for a BA Education with an Accounting option says the situation is very disturbing, adding that the country stands the chance of killing the very skills needed to build the technical base of the economy if nothing is done about vocational and technical education.

“Those who go there are not failures. They went there because they are looking for special skills that are not available here at the Universities,” he noted.

Surprisingly no student from any of the vocational and technical institutions was present at the program though invitations were sent out to them, as the paper later learnt.

The Mentorship Conference was started last year by Cape Coast based NGO, Abusua Foundation and seeks to create a platform for the youth, mostly students to interact with Corporate & Business Executives and benefit from their experience.

The Chief Executive of the Scoop, an Ice Cream & Fruit Juice distributor, Karen Henderson Nwaobi in an address advised students especially to translate what they've learnt in the classroom to the job markets.

According to her, most graduates are unable to translate and use the theories learnt practically, therefore making it difficult for them to be employed.

“There is a disconnection from what they learn from the classroom to what pertains in the field of business.”

She also advised participants to be committed towards their chosen field of endeavor.

“The problem with most people is that they are not committed to what they do. When your commitment level is zero, your output on the job is equally affected and this does not speak well of your own self,” she added

Mrs. Nwaobi said there are a lot of opportunities that the youth can explore but the problem has always been that people want to reap where they've not sown.

“There is no short cut to success. You have to work hard to get to the top. And learn life lessons,” she stressed.