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27.03.2004 Regional News

STEP programme to train 20,000 people this year

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Cape Coast, March 26, GNA - Dr Angela Ofori-Atta, deputy Minister of Manpower development and Employment on Friday announced that a total of 20,000 people would be trained this year nationwide under the Skills Training and Employment Programme (STEP).

The programme, which started last year, has so far trained 3,500 people in carpentry, batik tie and dye, food processing and dressing making.

Dr Ofori-Atta said this at a day's seminar as part of activities marking the sixth annual New Hall week at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) under the theme: "Promoting quality university education in an era of Golden age of business".

The event also coincided with the launch of the hall magazine and a website.

Dr Ofori-Atta said five billion cedis was being provided for STEP beneficiaries to enable them set up their own businesses after their training.

The deputy Minister said the Ministry would soon conduct a manpower survey in the country to ascertain the number of jobs and job opportunities available and the kind of training to provide for the untrained.

Dr Ofori-Atta said the government was doing a lot to improve the quality of education at the tertiary level, adding that under the GETFund alone, 224 billion cedis was provided last year for the continuation of modernization and enlargement of capacity in the universities and polytechnics.

She said 28 billion cedis was also allocated to facilitate research and development while 32 billion cedis was used to support the students loan scheme. All these, she noted, helped to increase the intake in universities by 30.5 percent and 26.5 percent in the polytechnic whilst distance education rose to 60 percent.

Dr Ofori-Atta was however, unhappy that less than three percent of students were in the tertiary institutions and stressed that for the nation to improve its manpower needs the figure would have to be increased.

The deputy Minister said the days of apathy among university students were over and called on student leaders to turn their attention on working with university authorities on things, which would enhance university education such as access to relevant and current literature, funding research and graduate work as well as private sector participation in the university education.

She urged the leadership to come out with innovations that would make education relevant by having Student Representative Councils (SRC) to develop and own businesses, profits of which may go into scholarship awards or enhancing projects of the university.

Dr Ofori-Atta suggested the creation of internet caf=E9, tourist shops, supper markets, tennis and basket ball courts as some of the areas the SRCs could venture into to generate funds for its programmes. Mr Paul Effah, Executive Secretary, National Council for Tertiary Education, called on tertiary institutions to take advantage of the 33 million dollars made available under the Teaching and Innovation Fund (TALIF) to raise the quality of teaching and learning at the tertiary level.

The Fund, which he said was recently launched, was to improve polytechnic education, strengthening postgraduate programmes, enhance leadership and management development, capacity building of tertiary distance education and HIV/AIDS prevention and management. 26 Mar. 04

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