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Current Issues and Perspectives on Polytechnic Education in the Republic of Ghana <Articles>
The education system of Ghana was relatively advanced compared with those of other African countries especially in terms of the enrolment ratio at secondary school levels. However, Ghana adopted an economic recovery programme in 1983 and had structural adjustment imposed on it. The 1980s were recognised as a decade of educational depression for most African countries including Ghana.
This situation may have led to the International Conference on Education for All in 1990. Many aid agencies placed a higher priority on basic education in the education sector. Many African countries allocated much of their educational budgets to basic education. The adverse effects of such policy appear to be emerging in higher education in recent years. Consequently, in this paper the issues and perspectives of polytechnic education in Ghana are critically analysed and examined.
The Government of Ghana decided to increase the intake to higher education institutions, particularly polytechnics. This is considered to be a political decision rather than based on economical demands, in the situation where many secondary school leavers cannot find jobs. However, the Government has not supported such expansion financially and, in spite of that, polytechnic enrolments in 1998/99 were eight times as many as those in 1993/94. It has been moderately difficult to provide quality education for those students.
To make polytechnic education functional for the socio-economic development of Ghana, the following basic aspects may be taken into consideration; (1) to create some comparative advantages of polytechnics over universities and to identify an appropriate status for polytechnics in society, (2) to diversify income without depending on government subsidies and to develop a system of incentives for such diversification, (3) to cooperate with private firms and utilise polytechnics as their in-service training institutions, making the curriculum flexible, (4) to promote collaboration with the private sector including the informal sector, and (5) to examine efficient and effective ways of staff training.
This kind of expansion in polytechnics may occur in other African countries in the near future and the Ghanaian case must have many implications for them. The most crucial issue is how to compete with universities and how to be attractive for new entrants in a society where social status and income are largely determined by academic qualifications.