SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE GUEST OF HONOUR, DR. FRED K. ASAMOAH, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF COTVET ON THE OCCASION OF THE 7TH CONGREGATION OF BOLGATANGA POLYTECHNIC HELD ON SATURDAY, 16TH FEBRUARY, 2019

Mr. Chairman,

Hon. Regional Minister –Madam Paulina Patience Abayage,

Hon. Members of Parliament,

Hon. Municipal/District Chief Executives,

Chairmen of Technical Universities and Polytechnics Councils,

Members of Bolgatanga Polytechnic Governing Council,

Executive Secretaries of Regulatory Bodies,

Rector and Vice Rector of Bolgatanga Polytechnic,

Vice Chancellors and Rectors of Technical Universities and Polytechnics,

Registrars and Directors of Finance of Technical Universities and Polytechnics,

Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies,

Members of Convocation,

Chiefs,

Our Friends from the Media,

Distinguished Invited Guests,

Parents/Guardians,

Graduands,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is indeed a great honour to be invited as the Guest of  Honour for the 7th Congregation of  Bolgatanga Polytechnic. I convey to you warm felicitations from His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo.

His Excellency the President would have wished to be here with you today but that has not been possible because of equally other important national assignments. He extends his warmest greetings and has asked me to assure you that though he is physically absent here, he is here in spirit as he considers Bolgatanga Polytechnic a critical partner in our drive towards economic development.

TECHNICAL-VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING (T-VET)

Mr. Chairman, Invited Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen, the key resource for any sustained national development is skilled human capital. As you mark the beginning of your journey outside the school today, we wish to share in your joy and to assure you that with the right mind set, attitudes and quality of training you have received in the Bolgatanga Polytechnic, the sky will not be your limit.

As it were, the level of development in a middle income country like Ghana is determined by the quality of its human resource coupled with innovations in science and technology especially modernization of agriculture. Hence, agricultural industrialization remains the central driving force in the achievement of economic and social development in Ghana. The Nana Addo-led Government is very much aware of this and is committed in partnering learning institutions and the private sector in providing expertise and resources for realizing the goals of our youth specifically in agriculture in order to enhancenational development. It is for this reason that the Policy of Planting for Food and Jobs was launched last year to revolutionize agriculture.

In all of this, T-VET is key and it is for these reasons that all Technical Universities and Polytechnics are being retooled through the AMATROL and AVIC projects so that students of these institutions can be properly be trained to lead the industrialization drive.

Mr. Chairman, let me reiterate that agriculture remains the backbone of the Ghanaian economy for which reason Nana Addo-led Government is leaving no stone unturned in developing the agricultural sector of our economy. Though the country has found and been drilling oil in commercial quantities, and the service sector is booming, it is only the agric sector which drives inclusive growth. This is where the two agricultural departments of your Polytechnic come into focus. It is my belief that the Agricultural Engineering and Ecological Agriculture Departments can play a vital role in promoting agriculture in the Upper East Region in particular and Ghana as a whole. With appropriate research and training, these departments can introduce innovation in the food production chain to increase productivity and improve income levels of farmers and marketers alike.

GOVERNMENT POLICY & SUPPORT

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Government is keen in upgrading the remaining two Polytechnics- Bolgatanga and Wa to Technical Universities to enable them derive full and maximum benefits of Technical Tertiary Education. We are resolved that the upgrading will not only expand access to technical and vocational tertiary education but will also provide a career path for all who choose technical education. Let me assure all those who have chosen technical education that the future can only be bright especially with the training that is envisage for Technical Universities in Ghana. We are one of the few countries with a National TVET qualifications framework. This  an eight level framework which starts from the proficiency level to the doctorate level and uses the competency based approach where industry is part of program development, training, assessment and certification of learners

I wish to urge Bolgatanga Polytechnic to upgrade swiftly its staff capacity and partner with relevant industries to reposition itself for conversion to Technical University. A strong linkage with industry is very critical in this regard. We therefore urge staff and Management of the Polytechnic to explore ways of not only placing their students in industry for practical training but also undertaking same themselves to sharpen their skills for effective delivery.

We understand the importance of equipment and industry experience in the training of graduates of a Technical University for which reason we are taking the necessary steps to provide that vital requirement for Bolgatanga Polytechnic to improve your readiness for conversion into a Technical University and the competiveness of your products in the world of work. The AMATROL and AVIC projects I just mentioned come in handy to address this issue.

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Chairman, research and industrial development are inseparable and are the pillars of His Excellency, President Nana Addo’s ‘one-district one-factory’, and ‘one-village one-dam’ policies. Currently, there is  the National Research and innovation fund Bill approved by cabinet and ready for gazetting to replace book and research  allowance which when passed will make statutory allocation of funds to enhance research and its uptake in the country. Research feeds industry while the proceeds of industry sustain research. Hence, the role of research and industry especially mobilizing national resources for development is indispensable and more critical today than ever in the face of emerging technologies and globalization. It is therefore in this regard that I urge your staff to come up with innovative ideas and projects towards securing corporate funding and partnership to enable you contribute meaningfully to the development of the Region and the nation as a whole.

I am reliably informed that the Ecological Agriculture and Agricultural Engineering Departments have secured funding from the Skills Development Fund two (SDF II) to develop modules for vegetables farmers and to train farmers on post-harvest losses. I want to commend the lead staff and the Departments for their efforts and I hope this will development of CBT that can be upscale for national impact

As we all know, research is key in the academia. Continue to research for new and better ways of doing things and be mindful of the environment in your efforts to grow and achieve the best for your communities.

CHALLENGES

Mr. Chairman, we may all be aware of the challenges we face as a nation which Government is committed to addressing. I am informed of the peculiar problem of inadequate industries within the catchment area of Bolgatanga Polytechnic; which together with other factors affect practical and skills acquisition by staff and students. I, however, wish to urge you to look beyond Bolgatanga or Upper East to address the practical skills acquisition challenge.Do not confine yourself to the fringes of Bolgatanga. Lets explore other cities and towns in the country and virtual reality.

I also wish to urge you to build industrial collaborations that will improve your financial strength and the competiveness of your graduates as well as uplift the corporate image of Bolgatanga Polytechnic.

Mr. Chairman, Ghanaian industries’ inabilities to meet their responsibilities is due to many problems. Energy and cost of operation used to be among the many challenges most of the industries faced. The high tax was another. Fortunately, the Government has reduced and canceled some of the nuisance taxes. Government is thus determined to further reduce taxes if possible to enable businesses to remain competitive. Electricity tariffs have also been reduced to cushion Ghanaians and their business. We further hope to continue implementing social policies that will benefit the good people of Ghana.

Improving upon the quality of TVET delivery in the institutions is very important and so Government is also expanding access. With the introduction of Free Secondary and Technical Education under Ministry of Education, there has been substantial increases in the TVET institutions enrolments in Technical and Vocational institutions within the Ghana Education Service and this is being complemented with upgrading TVET institutions across the country and even moving on to provide 20 state- of the Art TVET institutions that will include a center of excellence across all the regions of Ghana. The Implementation of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy will also open up access to the recognition of the skills of a lot more people especially for the skilled operators in the informal sector and it is my hope that Bolga Polytechnic will participate fully in this regard.

The Realignment of all public TVET institutions under the Ministry of Education and the operationalization of Technical and Vocational Education Service (TVES) as a delivery agency under MOE is ongoing and will be at full implementation hopefully this year.

Ghana will for the first time, be at the World Skills Competition to be held in Russia following the successful showing at the World Skills Competition, Africa, held in Kigali, Rwanda in 2018.

ADVICE TO GRADUANDS

I am particularly happy that you are graduating today. I congratulate you for having gone through your various programmes of study successfully. As I share in your joy today, I urge you not to become complacent after your graduation, for the exigencies of life have just begun; The world has already started using industry 4.0 and most of the jobs today will not exist five years from now. As such I challenge you to be entrepreneurial and innovative in fertilizing your ideas and developing your communities. You should not stop seeking to acquire more skills that will make you competitive and relevant

Remember that hard work, perseverance and dedication are the surest ways to success in life.

As you leave the Polytechnic into the realities of life, remember that society which invested so much in you would expect returns from you and those returns would be measured not only in the way you assist your community to identify solutions to their problems but also the quality of your solutions and the role you play in bettering the lives of your people.

CONCLUSION

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I have taken keen note of your concerns. I shall bring same to the attention of relevant authorities and follow up for solutions as well.

I want to once again congratulate the graduands, staff and Management on the occasion of the 7th Congregation of Bolgatanga Polytechnic and wish you God’s guidance, direction and leadership in all your endeavours. Thank you and God bless us all and our homeland Ghana.

Update Meeting ON TVET with the Senior Minister – Yaw Osafo Marfo

The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo called on the Technical andVocational Education and Training (TVET) team at the Ministry of Education and the
Ghana Education Service (GES) to discuss the current state and future
of the skills sector in Ghana.

Impressed by the able team at the Ministry of Education, the Senior
Minister charged the team to transform TVET in the shortest possible time,
adding that the success of education is measured by employability and
the quality and quantity of skills available in the workforce.

The Minister for Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, informed him that TVET has always been a priority for him and theMinistry and that he is fully aware of its transforming powers on a
nation. Therefore, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with
GES and the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and
Training (COTVET) is embarking on a massive revamp of the sector to
make sure that young people who choose technical and/or vocational
education attain world class standards and certification.

According to the Minister, so far the team is:

1. Processing the TVET bill in parliament
2. Unifying all TVET institutions to be under the watch of COTVET
3. Giving all secondary level TVET students free education under the Free SHS
4. Collaborating with the likes of the World Bank, Televic, AVIC, De
Lorenzo, GIZ and others to revamp and retool many of our technical
institutions
5. Encouraging students and trainees through competitions,
international exchange programmes and scholarships to become
innovative problem solvers
6. Providing loan facilities through MASLOC for startups in TVET

Very soon, the team will provide Ghanaians with an update on the
reforms taking place to boost TVET in Ghana to make it the premium
choice for all those who wish to pursue lifelong careers in the skills
sector.