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21.06.2004 Regional News

Polytechnics urged to evolve programmes aimed at youth employment

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Tamale, June 21, GNA - Mr Ernest Debrah, Northern Regional Minister has urged the country's polytechnics to structure their training programmes to absorb the youth into the institutions to acquire employable skills or make them self-employed after their training. He noted that majority of the youth who have completed elementary and secondary schools and are idling about in the communities are a huge reservoir of manpower who when given the necessary skills, could help accelerate the development of the country.

Mr Debrah made the call in a speech read for him at the joint inauguration and opening of a three-day workshop on "Developing Rural Entrepreneurs Project" in Tamale on Monday.

The workshop is a partnership meeting between the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and their Ghanaian development partners to plan and coordinate specific project activities for the polytechnics in Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions. The project is collaboration between Canadian and Ghanaian technical institutions aimed at offering entrepreneurial skills to the polytechnic students, especially in the agriculture sector.

The CIDA has contributed two million dollars towards the 2.45 million-dollar project, while the other partners pay up the remaining 450,000 dollars.

The project, which is demand-driven, is a five-year initiative aimed at increasing access to appropriate and relevant entrepreneurial support for women and men entrepreneurs in Northern Ghana.

Mr Debrah who attributed the ethnic conflict in the North to unemployment and the resultant idleness of the youth, reiterated the need for sustainable and lasting peace, saying, "All efforts by government and its development partners to improve the economic well-being of the people would come to nought, if there is no peace". He said government on its part, was striving to reduce by half the poverty level in the country by the year 2015 in accordance with the United Nations Millennium Development Goal.

Dr Steven Russell, the Canadian Project Coordinator said the initial focus of the project would be to extend and develop new entrepreneurial programmes at the Tamale, Bolgatanga and Wa Polytechnics, which would later be made available to other institutions including women's training colleges, agricultural training schools, the Institute of Adult Education and the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment.

He said the project was designed on the principles of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Ghana Accelerated Agriculture Development and Growth Strategy and targeted at the development of the private sector through the leadership of the regional polytechnics and NGOs.

The project's rural focus would be to address the disparities in the income levels and standards of living existing between the urban and the rural communities.

Dr Joseph Azunre, Principal of the Bolgatanga Polytechnic bemoaned the lack of trained technical teachers in the country to man the country's technical institutions and said something urgent must be done about it, "if we are to develop our vast lands to produce enough to feed ourselves and for export".

He commended the Canadian partners for spending their resources and time to impart skills to the polytechnics and expressed the hope that the beneficiaries would disseminate the knowledge they had acquired to the community level.

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