The Fuss About Our Education
Education is considered the bedrock of development as it seeks to develop the needed human capital. And any country that strives to develop must have its foundations built on the back of strong educational system. This means investing heavily in education so that the citizenry can be well educated. In so doing, the populace becomes well informed in taking good decisions on government policies and the likes.
I must say education is expensive and it's even becoming more expensive. A qualification which hitherto could secure the holder a good job a few years ago, can no longer fetch another the same job today. Hence there is a quest for attainment of higher education than ever before. I may be wrong though but this is certainly how I look at it.
Promotions on the job, better salary, and social status or class are all tied to one's level of education. Therefore, everybody is struggling very hard to pursue other post-graduate programs in the universities. This phenomenon has put a lot of pressure on the universities in the area of infrastructural and human resource developments to meet the ever increasing needs. This has accounted for the springing up of a lot of private universities across the country that have been granted accreditation for various programs. As a result, there have been instances where applicants have to fake their results in order to gain admission into those tertiary institutions. Those who are not so lucky are later found out and dismissed!
Establishment of more private universities, in itself is not a bad idea. As it widens the scale of choices for applicants, it creates job avenues as well.
Talking about accreditation for various programs at the tertiary levels, you would agree with me that some of the programs being run currently appear to have lost their 'relevance' to our current development needs as a country.
In recent years, the least academic qualification employers are looking for is good First Degree. Sometimes, they add somewhere in the job advertisement that Second Degree (Masters) would be an added advantage for a prospective job applicant. I don't want to talk about the number of years of working experience they usually required of prospective applicant. It has become quite clear that those who have earned Diplomas in various fields at the tertiary levels do not have a place in the job market! The best form of job they could get is those companies that recruit field workers to sell their products. Unlike the degree holders who are paid salaries monthly, this other class of workers are paid on commission. So while the salary earner’s job is secured, that of the commission earner is insecure. I must say my assertion on remuneration in this context is not absolute!
There is this school of thought that holds the opinion that, Higher National Diploma (HND) holders perform far better on the job than their Degree holding counter-parts from the university. Well, this is the assessment of this school of thought. What's your take?
Quite apart from that, I've heard industry experts argued that there is a disconnect between the programs being run at the tertiary levels in terms of content and the job market. In other words, our tertiary institutions are turning out graduates that are 'half-baked' for the available jobs. It means that our graduates are not of the quality that employers need. So where is the problem coming from; who is responsible: the student, the lecturer, or the course content?
I dare ask, is it the case that the lecturers do not have adequate resources to undertake research works that is in tandem with the job market so as to prepare their students adequately for the jobs? If yes, who then is responsible for the provision of the required resources?
If the problem has to do with the students, could it be that they are simply not good - lazy? And I seriously doubt this. For an applicant to gain admission into any tertiary institutions in Ghana, he/she must meet the set requirements. But is this strictly followed? Certainly a few of them on protocol lists would find their way into those institutions. I’m not suggesting that those who are in this category do not qualify for admission into our tertiary institutions. In any case, they would be in minority and therefore it's unfair to generalize the fact that the graduates that are churned out yearly are of low quality.
My question then is, if the Diplomas (and the HNDs) are no longer relevant for the job market, as it were, why then do we allow it to be ran as courses in our tertiary institutions? Why do people spend money to acquire those qualifications? Is there any reason for holding on to something that appears obsolete?
I strongly think that if Diplomas are no longer useful, then we have to scrap it so that we can focus more on those that are considered more useful.
Not quite long ago, a professor from one of the public universities was bemoaning the fact that the percentage of graduates that are turned out each year is not commiserate with a country which claims to have attained middle income status. So there is the issue of access and affordability. And I think the problem has to do with the latter. Not many people can afford the high fees being charged by the tertiary institutions especially the universities – be it public or private.
This calls for regulation. However, the government is limited in regulating fees charged by the private universities unlike the public ones where students enjoy government subventions and subsidized fees.
I want to emphasize that there is the need to get things done right going forward. There is the need for restructuring of the programs being run currently at the tertiary levels and formulation of proper regulations that would look at the aspect of fees.