TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION—THE ABANDONED WEALTHY MINE OF GHANA
Ghana has long been viewed by its peers as a proud and respected nation in West Africa. Our brief history has been marked by several eventful happenings that make us stand out as one of the leading nations in the sub-region. Kwame Nkrumah, revered as the Pan Africanist and charismatic leader, who helped shape and sculpt the country of Ghana after taking over power from the British, cannot be left out in the reckoning when it comes to our history. There is no gainsaying the fact that Kwame Nkrumah embarked on many developmental projects of long term value which amazed even the colonial powers at the time. The vision that the African icon had was a profound and futuristic one not only for Ghana but for the whole of the African continent. One brilliant initiative that was embarked on at the time was the establishment of technical and vocational schools. The importance of technical and vocational schools in the country has been revisited by many Ghanaians in recent times and will be discussed in this article. Technical and vocational schools are responsible for the impartation of practical knowledge to students to equip them with adequate skills to help them solve problems in the community. Concerns about the need for the establishment of technical and vocational schools have been raised by many. All these developed countries in the world that we so admire and wish to travel to, are what they are now due to the prioritization of technical training in their educational
system. A high percentage of workers who contribute to the GDP of most western nations, are skilled. The reason why a greatly endowed country like Ghana with all the numerous highly coveted mineral resources like gold, diamond, bauxite and manganese still lags behind, has been deciphered. The country does not prioritize technical and vocational education. Therefore, not many of such schools funded by government currently exist. It is obvious that when students are well-equipped with technical and vocational skills, any government regardless of its political colour will be encouraged to ensure that manufacturing industries are established for the production of finished goods which could be exported to generate revenue for the country. Several highly esteemed state treasures like GTP have been rendered more or less defunct. There are other very important factories like the Komenda sugar factory which are no longer in operation due to management issues. Most of the income generating establishments were engineered by Ghana’s first president who believed that a country’s growth is dependent on the prioritization of technical and vocational skills. Hence, vocational schools were built in remote
areas in order to make sure that a lot of youths were trained to make them adequately prepared to work in industries which contributed to the development of the country’s economy. The Covid-19 pandemic which hit the entire globe can be viewed in very many respects as a
blessing in disguise. This is because the ingenuity of many Ghanaians was brought to the fore. For instance, an 18 year old junior high school graduate manufactured a vehicle with the use of improvised equipment. In another instance, a student from one of the technical schools in Kumasi also succeeded in manufacturing a sensitive veronica bucket to help wash hands without touching the tap so as to prevent further spread of the virus. Technical schools have for long been the abandoned cradle of Ghana’s development. The reality
has dawned on many Ghanaians in these critical times that the enrolment of a lot of youths in technical schools will furnish them with the necessary skills and expertise to boost the Ghanaian economy. All abandoned technical institutes must be located and revamped. It is very
heartbreaking to see raw materials of Ghanaian origin refined into products by the westerners and sold back to us. There are a lot of clothing that are designed with the use of Ghanaian materials. The “ahemaa”, for instance, which is a locally manufactured sandals worn by the Asantehene of Ghana and other chiefs, are sold at a very expensive price in Europe. This is a wakeup call to Ghanaians to prioritize technical and vocational education at the second-cycle level so that acquiring technical skills at the tertiary level will be a mere simple and smooth transition. It is time for Ghana to 'excavate' the abundant mineral resources lying fallow in its abandoned wealthy mine—in the form of technical and vocational education—and maximize them for the benefit of its citizens.
Source: Gideon Geraldo