Develop Policies Devoid of Political Expediency
A policy of any nature is subject to review when it is seen to have outlived its usefulness. Reviewing a policy takes into account most current trends/pressing priorities and changing needs of people. Though this is part and parcel of any dynamic society, it is however, unsatisfactory the manner in which we try to introduce and implement some of these policies for the purposes of political expediency.
I was one of the students of the last batch of the 3-year Post-Secondary Teacher’s Certificate ‘A’ a decade ago. It was in our second year the news came that Teacher Training Colleges were going to be upgraded to Diploma awarding institutions. Some of us had wished we were beneficiaries of the new policy.
We were really anxious somehow to see the new students admitted and how the new program would take off. To the surprise of some of us, sooner the new batch of students was admitted than we realised they were going to have a very long way to go! Students were left wandering about while the teachers who were to implement the new policy were left in a trance of a sort. For the few weeks the new students were on campus, one could tell all was not well with them in terms of what the new policy held in store for them.
After a long wait, the course materials for the program were finally introduced. Out of curiosity, some of us took our time to study the contents of those course materials and it was not any much of a difference from what we have studied in our first year. The duration for the course also remained at three years. Technically speaking, the 3-year Post-Secondary Teacher’s Certificate ‘A’ was changed to Diploma in Basic Education while Teacher Training College was replaced with College of Education, being the most significant in the new policy.
It was clear that the government was ill-prepared to get the ball rolling for the new students. It was unimaginable that the new program had no course materials readily available to kick-start teaching and learning. So the question then was if the course materials were still under preparatory stage at the time students had been admitted, why the rush to introduce the policy? One would have thought all the finishing touches were done with long before admissions forms were even sold out.
As a result, it took a while for the real teaching and learning to start. When it eventually took off fully, then came to the fore some technical problems with some of the course materials. And for me, those technical problems could have been avoided if thorough preparation was done prior to the actual implementation. It’s a fact that every new thing comes with some hitches and glitches. That notwithstanding, I am not for once suggesting in any way that all the challenges that come with introduction of a new policy can be avoided entirely. What it does is that, it lessens the negative effects on the end product of the policy and in this case the teacher-trainee (teacher). One could imagine all the frustration and psychological impacts those challenges the students had to grapple with at the initial stage of their course. In fact we saw it for ourselves.
It is for the foregoing reason I am a bit sceptical toward the conversion of the existing Polytechnics into Technical Universities. A lot of arguments have been advanced for and against the new policy to convert the existing Polytechnics into Technical Universities. It is a good thing though. However, are we sure enough has been done in terms of preparation of course materials being readily available to the lecturers and students to avert the situation we saw when the Diploma in Basic Education program was introduced in the Colleges of Education? I really hope so otherwise I see no reason why we always rush to implement policies when it is clear we are ill-prepared to roll out such programs.
In any case, have we gotten to a point where the policy establishing Polytechnics have been reviewed and found to be outmoded and for which reason we have to convert them into Technical Universities? If so, so be it but if not, then we really have to rethink and think through it thoroughly before any final decision is made. Mind you, I have listened to Dr K.B Asante, a Statesman and Diplomat insisting he did not see the need for converting the existing Polytechnics into what is called Technical Universities. According to him, Polytechnic education is still relevant. That is why I think we should not be led by political expediency into taking decisions that is not in the best interest of the country.