Professor E.K. Agyei, Chairman of the Sunyani Polytechnic Council at the weekend urged the industrial community to embrace polytechnic students and staff for practical and skill training.
He appealed to government to provide special incentives to industries as a means of encouraging them to collaborate with the polytechnics.
Prof. Agyei was addressing the staff and students of the Sunyani Polytechnic (S.Poly) at its second congregation in Sunyani.
He explained that polytechnics had an important role to play in the socio-economic development of the country since its central aim had more practical focus than those offered in the universities.
He noted that the public perception of the polytechnics as second-rate universities had been the result of the inadequate funding it has been receiving and the lack of facilities for the requisite skills and experience that they need.
This he said would enable them to become effective in the industrial sector, where their services were mostly needed.
Prof. Agyei expressed his concern about the poor conditions of service, low salaries and low esteem accorded the polytechnics making it increasingly difficult to attract and retain teachers.
He commended the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND) for putting up a hostel to help alleviate the acute accommodation problem facing the polytechnic.
He appealed for more of such facilities for the students of the polytechnics especially accommodation, to enable them to pursue their programmes under congenial atmosphere.
Prof. Agyei advised polytechnic teachers to show interest in research to improve teaching and learning.
He disclosed that plans were underway to develop the polytechnic into a public university of technology for the region and called on government to establish technical schools to feed the polytechnics.
This he said would increase the intake of students in the departments of applied science and technology.
Mr. Kwame Ampofoi-Twumasi, Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, explained that education was increasingly surpassing other resources as the main driver of economic growth and development.
"It was against this background that government's major pre- occupation was to provide education at all levels.
He said, as part of the new educational reforms, Technical, Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) would be well repositioned to enable it to play its proper role in national development.
Mr. Ampofo-Twumasi announced that with the support of Netherlands, through the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC), the national council for tertiary education has set up a three-member research team to undertake a pilot study of the rationalization of polytechnic programmes starting with Accra and cape Coast polytechnics.
He disclosed that government discretion budget for polytechnics had risen from approximately 31 billion cedis in 2001 to 111.54 billion cedis in 2006 representing an increase of 259 percent.
The Deputy Education Minister said between 2000/2001 and 2005/2006, student's enrolment had registered a remarkable growth of 33.6 percent in the polytechnics.
Mr. Ampofo-Twumasi said a new methodology dubbed the confidence-based training had been introduced into the curricular of the polytechnics with support from JICA and NUFFIC.
It has also started as pilot programme in agricultural engineering, building technology, automotive and civil engineering.
He said Sunyani and cape Coast polytechnics have started the building technology programme on pilot basis.
Professor Kwasi Nsiah-Gyabaah, Principal of Sunyani Polytechnic said the support it had received from NUFFIC and TALIF projects had prepared the department of building technology adequately to start the Bachelor of Technology next academic year.
While assuring government of the support and commitment of the polytechnics for the new education reforms, Prof. Nsiah-Gyabaah cautioned that the successful implementation of the programme would depend to a large extent on teacher motivation and supply of relevant books, laboratories and equipment for research, teaching and learning in the Technical/vocational institutions.
He advised the graduates to be self-disciplined and avoid the 'get rich syndrome' and be involved as lifelong members of the Sunyani polytechnic Alumni.
In all 998 deserving graduates made up of 780 males and 218 females were awarded Higher National Diploma in the fields of engineering, applied science and technology, business and management studies.
Prof. Christopher Ameyaw Ekumfi, Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways, Mr. Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister and Nana Abraham Kwadwo Kwakye, Deputy Regional Minister attended the function.