Photo Report: Technical Universities Vs Traditional Universities
In 2013 State of the Nation Address, President John Dramani Mahama announced that Polytechnics in Ghana will be converted to Technical Universities.
According to the President, the proposed technical universities would train students to acquire high level technical skills to drive the country’s economic and national development agenda. He argued that these universities would provide progression avenues for technical and vocational students and curb the growing phenomenon of academic-type “top-up” programmes for HND graduates at the traditional universities.
Although the decision to convert the polytechnics to technical universities is a great idea with enormous potential for transforming and growing the economy and promoting national development, there are those who think it will mimic already existing traditional universities thereby creating more graduate unemployment in Ghana.
This concern brings to mind the key roles technical universities should play or what should be the philosophy that underpins a technical university in the Ghanaian context. The committee set up on the conversion of Polytechnics into Technical Universities in their report defined a Technical University as “a technical university or university of applied sciences is a technological university with focus on the application of technology to the various fields of learning.”
This definition establishes that technical universities are expected to lead to a more diversified higher education landscape with clear mission differentiating them from traditional ones support existing and emerging productive sectors of the economy with technical expertise. The committee enumerated typical differentiation indicators indicated in the table below:
The table shows that technical universities have different focus and orientation from traditional ones. Now narrowing down to what is already happening in Polytechnics, now technical universities against the traditional universities, GhCampus.com presents a photo report on the flagship exhibits of both technical universities and traditional universities at the 2016 Science, Technology and Innovation Fair.
- University of Ghana
First, Ghana’s premiere university; University of Ghana exhibited vegetables and other short season crops produced in a soilless environment-hydroponics technology, domestification and conservation of Medicinal Plants, and smart house technology. Other exhibits include Integrated Police Operations Management System, mushroom growing and Senior High School Opencourseware.
- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Ghana’s foremost institution for Science and Technology education and one of the finest in Africa exhibited a portable device for objective assessment of progress of rehabilitation of Stroke patients and single head traffic light as their flagship exhibits. Other exhibits are KNUST powersafe IC and KNUST INAMP IC.
- Takoradi Technical University (Takoradi Polytechnic)
- Technical University of Koforidua (Koforidua Polytechnic)
A modified engine that run on raw palm kernel oil
- Kumasi Technical University (Kumasi Polytechnic)
Fufu pounding machine and fuel from plastic waste were their flagship exhibits. Others were solar bags, solar panel,
- Accra Technical University (Accra Polytechnic)
The premier Polytechnic in Ghana exhibited Plastination of Fishes, liquid smoke and Maltose syrup as their flagship exhibits
8. University of Cape Coast
9. University of Mines and Technology
The traditional universities exhibited science projects that are knowledge and research-based whiles technical universities exhibited science projects that are practical and technologically based.
Having seen a clearer distinction between the two types of institutions, one may ask: ‘if polytechnics are doing these great works, why then should they be converted to technical universities?’ Again the answer to this question is provided in the report of the committee, “the decision to convert the polytechnics to technical universities is tantamount to repositioning the polytechnics within the tertiary education system which requires an expansion of their mission.”
The committee acknowledges that the decision to convert the Polytechnics has political, academic, technical, and financial dimensions but cautioned that a good idea should not be killed by either ill-conceived and weak implementation strategies or inadequate human and financial resources.