Technical education has been part of Ghana’s educational system for years, especially with the introduction of Secondary Technical Schools and Polytechnics (now technical universities). These educational institutions were meant to train students to acquire practical skills to help them solve problems, create jobs and be well integrated into the job market.
Sadly, over the years technical education in Ghana has faced major challenges, two of which include inadequate investment in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and the downgrading of technical education and training by some people.
Despite low investments in TVET especially in the past, admittedly recent governments are taking initiatives to revive and boost technical education in the country. These include the conversion of polytechnics to technical universities to make technical education more relevant and attractive to students. This move according to the government was meant to ensure improvements in technical education in the country.
Former Education Minister, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang during the 7th John Evans Atta Mills Commemorative Lecture in Accra emphasized the need for investment in technical and vocational training. According to her, there must be a relationship between education and industry in order to bridge the gap between the two sectors to help develop solutions that will make them relevant to each other.
The Former Minister added that the country must take practical measures to add value to its primary commodities. She noted that in order to make progress, we must build technical skills and put together an apprenticeship programme to train thousands of persons in that area. She also cited examples of initiatives that her ministry implemented when their government was in power. Essentially, it is vital for Ghana to take proactive measures to promote technical and vocational education and ensure that those skills are tailored to meet the needs of industry to help create a market, reduce graduate employment and build our economy.
Despite gains that the country is likely to derive from promoting skills education and training, there is a stumbling block to realizing that outcome; the lack of interest in technical education is a major challenge. Students who attend technical schools or even pursue courses such as Visual Arts are generally thought to be less intelligent. Therefore parents seldom want their wards to attend technical and vocational training schools. This mindset has been a real hindrance to the promotion of technical and vocational education in Ghana. For this reason, it is prudent for conscious steps and sensitization efforts to be taken up by the government and civil society to change the pertaining perceptions about technical education.
Apart from the fact that technical education helps students to learn skills that will help them start and run their own businesses, it goes further to help us move the country from being a consumer-based market to becoming a production hub. This will help to create jobs, solve problems and boost the general economy. This will also help to take our education from being highly dependent on theory to becoming practical.
In conclusion, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) has immense benefits and must be promoted by governments and the general society.