Kumasi, Sept 25, GNA- President John Agyekum Kufuor has appealed to Polytechnic teachers to exercise maximum restraint in their bid to fight for better salaries and improved conditions of service in order not to create unnecessary tension and disrupt the prevailing social order.
He said even though the government had not been able to resolve fully the problems facing the polytechnics, much progress had been made in the last few years to address them.
It was therefore, unfortunate that both staff and students of polytechnics had chosen public agitations and confrontations to address their problems.
President Kufuor made the appeal in a speech read for him by the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, at the third congregation of the Kumasi Polytechnic in Kumasi on Saturday. One thousand six hundred and eight students who had completed their HND programmes in various disciplines in the 2002 and 2003 academic years were presented with certificates.
The President said solution to major national problems did not come overnight and that there was the need to learn to address difficult issues with mutual trust, understanding, patience, circumspection and co-operation so that "we do not create avoidable tension and disrupt the prevailing social order".
He said in line with the government's policy of promoting technical education, the polytechnics as higher institutions for technical and vocational training would continue to receive significant Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) allocations to enable them to meet their training obligations and to the satisfaction of employers and the taxpayers.
President Kufuor congratulated the students and urged them to work hard to ensure peace in the 2004 general elections. He also told them to desist from acts that could lead them to contract the HIV/AIDS.
Dr Lord Asamoah, Principal of Kumasi Polytechnic, said one of the greatest challenges facing the polytechnic sector was the persistent lack of sufficient public understanding of what the polytechnics was about.
He said most people in the country appeared not to have been sufficiently sensitised to appreciate the major role polytechnic training played in national development.
Dr Asamoah spoke against the poor salaries and service conditions at the polytechnics, and said these were depriving them of qualified and experienced staff.
He said any policy that deprived the polytechnics of good lecturers, would definitely derail all the laudable efforts being made by government to improve technical education at the polytechnic level. Mr Daniel Owiredu, Chairman of the Polytechnic Council, announced that 60 per cent of students in the polytechnic had secured places for industrial attachment as part of their training programme.
He said the Council and management had adopted the policy of meeting the executives of the various interest groups at regular intervals to facilitate the necessary harmonisation of views on all key issues.
Mr Owiredu advised the students who had graduated against drug abuse, alcoholism, indiscipline and other acts that could put their lives in danger.