Convert Northern Polytechnics into technical universities too – Group

The controversy surrounding the decision to leave out some polytechnics from the first phase of upgrade into technical universities is still causing disaffection among some youth groups.

Wading into the debate is the Concerned Youth of Northern Ghana who are disappointed that no polytechnic in the three northern regions will be upgraded immediately.

At a press briefing today in Bolgatanga in the Upper East region, spokesperson Sunday Batowani argues that the absence of technical universities in the north will push northern students to migrate to seek better polytechnic education down south.

The group have expressed disappointment about the non-inclusion of polytechnics in the three northern regions among those to be converted by the government into technical universities.

At press, a conference in Bolgatanga on Monday, the Concerned Youth of Northern Ghana said the government could not be claiming to want to bridge the poverty gap between the north and the south and yet, leave northern polytechnics out of the list of polytechnics that are to be converted into Technical Universities.

A spokesperson for Concerned Youth of Northern Ghana, Sunday Batowani contended that if the Polytechnics in Northern Ghana have not met the criteria to qualify them for conversion into technical universities, it was the duty of government to give them that special attention, if indeed it was committed to giving Northerners equal opportunity.

The group wants the government to immediately consider at least one polytechnic from either Tamale, Bolgatanga or Wa for conversion into a technical university.

Below is the full copy of a statement released by the group

PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE NON-INCLUSION OF A SINGLE POLYTECHNIC IN THE THREE NORTHERN REGIONS IN THE CONVERSION OF POLYTECHNICS INTO TECHNICAL UNIVERSITIES – CONCERNED YOUTH OF NORTHERN GHANA

Fellow Ghanaians, well wishers of Northern Ghana, ladies and gentlemen of The Press, we have called you today so that you will help us carry our message across to the entire country that we are displeased with the failure of the government to add at least one of the Polytechnics in this northern part of Ghana to the list of Polytechnics to be converted. We are very grateful that you have availed yourselves and are ready to carry our message to the rest of the world.

BRIEF HISTORY
Tamale Polytechnic began as a Trades Training Centre in 1951 and then became the Government Training School in 1954. It was later converted to a junior Technical institute in 1960. The School was raised to the status of a Polytechnic 1992. As a result of the Educational Reform Programme and the enactment of the PNDC Law 321 in 1992, Tamale Polytechnic was elevated to tertiary status together with Accra, Kumasi, Ho, Cape Coast and Takoradi Polytechnics. The Polytechnic now trains students up to the Higher National Diploma and BTech levels. Since the inception of the Polytechnic as a Trades Training Centre, its catchments area has been mainly the three regions of the north, that is, Northern Upper East and Upper West.

Bolgatanga Polytechnic is one of the youngest Polytechnics in Ghana. It was established in July 2003 without a permanent structure but resorted to the use of an abandoned structure belonging to the former Meat Marketing Board. The Polytechnic began with five employees and the first Ag. Principal. The Polytechnic acquired a permanent site at Sumbrungu near Bolgatanga and put up modern structures befitting the status of a tertiary institution with the assistance of Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund). The staff population has progressively increased to about two hundred and twenty (220). It is worth emphasizing that most of the infrastructure at the Bolgatanga Polytechnic campus in Sumbrungu was built between 2003 and 2008.

The Wa Polytechnic was founded in 1999 to provide quality tertiary education to people in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The Wa Polytechnic has a number of academic Schools including School of Engineering, School of Applied Sciences and Technology and School of Business.

Our issues include the following;

  1. First, we are shocked that our uncle, President John Dramani Mahama who has never minced words in describing himself as “our own”, saw no need for ensuring regional balance in the conversion of Polytechnics into Technical Universities. Could it have been an oversight or someone deliberately ignored northern Ghana? How could the government allow such an oversight to occur as far as northern Ghana is concerned since all past governments have not hidden their intention of bridging the gap between the north and the south and the current government claims to have the same intention?
  2. On what basis were Tamale, Bolgatanga and Wa Polytechnics left out of the list? Information we have is that the initial list was made of five Polytechnics until a deputy minister of education found his own way of getting Ho Polytechnic into the list. That was after a failed attempt to drop Sunyani Polytechnic for Ho Polytechnic to be put on the list. Understandably, that is the Polytechnic in his home region. But the disappointing thing is that the President could not have Tamale Polytechnic put on the list. How come the President never bothered about these machinations of his deputy minister? We are very much aware that if the President was really committed to helping northern Ghana, in this case, it would have been the easiest thing to do.
  3. Assuming without admitting that these three Polytechnics do not have enough infrastructure and the required human resources to be converted into Technical Universities and on the grounds that the government have had plans of making Polytechnics Technical universities since 2012, could the government not have shown any commitment to helping tertiary education in northern Ghana by paying special attention to the Polytechnics in Tamale, Bolgatanga and Wa so as to bring them up to make them conversion worthy?
  4. We as northerners are further scandalized by the fact that a the University of Health and Allied Sciences has just been established in Ho and another University of Energy and Natural Resources also established in Sunyani, yet, the government under the leadership of John Dramani Mahama, chose to add a university each to these two Cities of Ho and Sunyani while ignoring Tamale, Bolgatanga and Wa. It is most shameful and we until now thought we had a mother in the kitchen. The issues of Polytechnic conversion into Technical Universities confronting us today shows that we as northerners indeed helped in putting our mother in the kitchen but she wants to keep us perpetually hungry.
  5. We are by this demanding that all the three Polytechnics be given special attention so as to make them worthy of conversion immediately. Though it will then be an afterthought, it is better than not having them get that attention. We actually believe that with the current state of the three Polytechnics, they can be converted into Technical Universities. There are existing universities with less infrastructure and human resources as compared to these Polytechnics, yet they are accredited and operating. The University for Development Studies Started with far less infrastructure than any of the three northern polytechnics have now. But because there were the desire and commitment to it, UDS is what it is today.
  6. We also want the government to know that if the three Polytechnics are left out of the conversion, they are likely to collapse since it will then be difficult to get students admitted into them. Students will prefer to attend Technical Universities instead of Polytechnics. Students in northern Ghana will have to travel long and risky distances to access Technical University education.
  7. We are calling on all employees of the three northern Polytechnics to join us in this fight since their jobs are at stake. The government should also be concerned since any collapse of the Polytechnics up north will render people unemployed and will aggravate the already excruciating unemployment problem in the Country.We thank you all for coming and for your attention.

Signed:
Name: Jonathan Kolog
Name: Sunday Batowani (Spokesperson)


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