Ms Helen Adwoa Ntoso, Eastern Regional Minister, has noted that without proper planning, the conversion of polytechnics to universities could result in the creation of a labour force with unequal ratio.

?It is therefore necessary to draw a distinction between degrees offered at polytechnics and those offered at the universities,? said.

Ms Ntoso was speaking at the 10th Congregation of the Koforidua Polytechnic on Saturday.

The first batch of the Bachelor of Technology degree and the 10th batch of Higher National Diploma (HND) graduands numbering 955.

A total of 135 artisans comprising 98 females who were offered periodic training in entrepreneurship and business by the polytechnic also graduated.

Ms Ntoso indicated that while university degrees traditionally lean towards knowledge acquisition at bachelor?s level, ?application of knowledge at master?s level and creation of knowledge at doctorate level, polytechnics are mainly vocationally oriented to prepare graduates to work?.

She said the focus of the polytechnics is towards development of fine skills which could allow graduates to perform specific tasks.

Ms Ntoso noted that it would be worthless for polytechnics to offer degrees which may not be recognised by other institutions.

?The intellectual skills should nevertheless be sufficiently comparable to those offered at the universities to enhance recognition.?

Ms Ntoso urged that polytechnic teachers should be carefully recruited and trained to take up the vision of competency-based training.

She indicated that the kind of qualifications required for one to qualify for teaching in the polytechnic should be more than obtaining second university degrees at the master?s level.

?Such group must appreciate the fact that they are under obligation to produce task-oriented graduates or such calibre of products that are different from the university products?.

Professor Reynolds Okai, Rector of the Polytechnic, announced that the institution which started with 45 students in the 1996/97 academic year now has a student population of 6,600 students.

He noted that starting with only two HND 16 years ago, the Polytechnic now offers six Bachelor of Technology Degree programmes in Automotive Engineering, Telecommunication Engineering, Renewable Energy Systems Engineering, Civil Engineering, Procurement Management and Accounting.

Professor Okai mentioned some challenges facing the Polytechnic as insufficient funds, lack of staff office space and residential facilities, inadequate library space and inadequate ICT facilities.

?Hostels on our campuses are woefully inadequate. More than two-thirds of students live in private buildings within the? communities?.

He therefore appealed to the Regional Minister for a special Ghana Education Trust Fund allocation to younger polytechnics to leapfrog development and to enable the institution to increase access to prospective students.

Nana Nkwantabisa III, Chairman of the Governing Council, appealed to students and staff to use dialogue in addressing their grievances instead of threats and intimidation.

?The Council will be swift and decisive in dealing with any person or group of persons, who through unacceptable manner, will attempt to disturb the peace of the Polytechnic,? he warned.

Miss Abigail Arthur was adjudged the best HND graduating student and was given GHC 500 cash.

Source: GNA

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