I am highly honoured to be part of this momentous day in the celebration of the history of Akyem Awisa. On behalf of the Ministry of Education, I wish to extend to you our goodwill message of peace, unity and prosperity. It is our cherished prayer that as you continue to sojourn along the path of development through a balance between tradition and education, the good LORD will bless to chalk many more successes in your endeavours in the future.
Ladies and gentlemen, I note with satisfaction that your theme for this year’s festival is, “Education and Tradition for Development – The Role of Technical & Vocational Education and Training (TVET)”. This theme has been chosen to celebrate your rich history, your heritage, pride, rich tradition and cultural values, educational substance, unity with purpose and above all brotherliness.
The story of Ghana’s economic trajectory since independence is a familiar, though sad one. Over the past sixty-five years, this country has moved from economic promise and hope to economic stagnation, a high debt-to-GDP ratio and a heavy dependency on foreign aid to keep it going.
This is particularly startling when one considers that we attained independence alongside counties like Malaysia, and Singapore, virtually hand in hand, neck to neck: We in Africa, they in the Far East. Technical and vocational education & training (TVET), technology and skills training have catapulted them into industrial giants, leaving their African counterparts behind. They have relied almost entirely on the knowledge industry to transform the fortunes of their people. Indeed, for countries like Ghana and other African countries that abound in unlimited mineral endowments, and a diversity of natural resources, we have run out of excuses to explain our continued economic stagnation and stunted growth.
Day in day out, we walk on wealth and riches, but are only capable of turning the surface soil, to feed from day to day, without cultivating the know-how to reach down the earth’s belly, and reap a richer harvest. We have been called the Gold Coast only in name, but largely to deride our incapacity to reach down and pick the Gold.
Ladies and gentlemen, ours is the tragedy of being the youngest continent, with the highest percentage of talented youth, but without the capacity to optimally convert the abundant stock of energy to employable skills. Africa has the youngest population among all continents. Half of the region’s population is under 25 years of age, but Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the world’s poorest population and unemployed.
The truth though is that it is the content of education that eventually makes the difference. That is why the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo successfully launched a Free SHS policy in September 2017. The lesson learnt in Africa’s educational system is our low capacity in skills development: our inability to generate knowledge and enable the development of skills among the youth and the workforce. Skills development in vocational and technical training is what will transform Ghana’s economy and drastically reduce unemployment. The strategy then has been to expand technical and vocational opportunities at both secondary and tertiary levels and thereby strengthen the linkages between education and industry, as well as give opportunities to the young ones, to deploy their skills, to employ themselves and others.
Our educational intervention projects through technical and vocational training in the past have been ill-programmed and have lacked the political will for focused prosecution.
The terrain of technical and vocational education has been plagued in the past with enormous challenges, including:
- Low national budgets
- Obsolete and inadequate facilities and equipment
- Low learning outcomes
- Obsolete academic curricula that do not keep up with contemporary labor needs
- Low local perception of technical and vocational skills and graduates
- Poor collaboration between industry and the academy
- Relative absence of qualified teachers and instructors
- The relative absence of tertiary degree awarding institutions that will train teachers in skills development, and
- Negative growth in industrial output
On our part as Government, we are positioning ourselves to mainstream technical and vocational education in various ways: by first launching a major project towards
- Redeeming the misconception that technical and vocational education is inferior, and patronized only by less endowed students.
- We are undertaking structural reforms by setting up a TVET Service, and TVET Council, and dedicating a whole division of the education service to technical and vocational education, which would have its own Director General.
- Government has also restructured the Ministry of Education, dedicating one Deputy Minister entirely to technical and vocational education.
- This is besides curriculum revision of TVET institutions,
- Construction of 20 modern TVET institutions across the country,
- Upgrading some 35 National and Vocational Training Institutes across the country, and upgrading colleges of education that specialize in technology.
- Finally, our One District One Factory project is meant to launch Ghana as a major hub for industrialization; but this game changer remains meaningless if it is not supported by institutions that are primed to instill the relevant human resource skills that will sustain and grow the industries.
Ghana welcomes investors who seek to pitch camp here and collaborate with local institutions in bolstering our technical capacity, and strengthening skills training in the country. We similarly welcome collaboration and partnerships in the area of equipment manufacture and the building of laboratories to feed our fledgling technical institutions and universities.
Nana Awisahene, I am elated to learn that the essential long term objective underlining this 2018 Odwira Afahye is to gather the momentum to put Awisaman in pole position to support the government TVET’s programme and ultimately avail yourself for the yet to be established new TVET centres. I welcome your decision and look forward to your formal proposal for consideration. The Ministry is ready to work with any community leaders in readiness to support the government and once we receive your request we shall look give it the needed consideration.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is my fervent hope that this festival will mark an important turning point for harnessing the energies and talents particularly of young people into productive technical and vocational education. It is a crucial bridge on our road to industrial take-off and our development goal.
I wish you all the very best of God’s blessings in the times ahead and thank you for your time and attention.