Education Minister Fights Back

The Minister of Education, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang has jumped to the defence of her deputy, fighting back claims against Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa of trying to “smuggle” the Ho Polytechnic into the list of the first batch of the polytechnics to be converted to Technical Universities in September.

Protesting students and staff of the Cape Coast Polytechnic accused the Deputy Minister in charge of Tertiary Education of roping in the Ho Polytechnic from the back door into the list, when they staged a demonstration Tuesday to register their displeasure against the exclusion of their institution.

But the Minister said she feels profoundly shocked by the allegation, which she believes cannot be true since the processes involved in the “academic exercise” are deeply transparent.

She told Otec Fm, a Kumasi-based radio station yesterday that not only was she appalled at the allegation, but also surprised at the level of personalisation of such an issue of national interest, and called on those making the accusation to refrain from it.

“I don’t believe that someone can smuggle any of the polytechnics from the back door into those pencilled to be converted to Technical Universities. The report is there for all to see. If that is true, it is that institution, which will suffer eventually because it will not have the capacity for technical university status,” Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang indicated.

The Minister explained that polytechnics in the country were not on equal parity as they did not start at the same time, thereby making a wholesale promotion impossible.

She said six of the polytechnics met the criteria on key characteristics that included governance structure, nature of collaboration with industries, staff and books.

According to her, this assessment was done by Dr. Afedzi’s committee set up by the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), intimating that the committee members consisted of experienced personalities who could not be walked over by government to do anything.

The Education Minister stated that her outfit together with the NCTE held extensive discussions with the committee on its recommendation before the Ministry decided to operationalise the recommendations.

She disclosed that the Ministry of Education would help the remaining polytechnics worked on their weaknesses in order to attain the criteria, while they convert those with the capacities.

She called on the staff and students of the Cape Coast Polytechnic to exercise patience as her Ministry helps the institution to address key issues for the takeoff.

From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi

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