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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Columnist: Asigri, D. Z.

Are our Polytechnics and Universities churning into myths ...

...thus hindering one’s pursuit for knowledge and skills development?

In posing the above question I shall not ‘quiver’ in response to multiple comments being showered on me by readers worldwide. After all, it is an invitation for a democratic written debate cum knowledge exploration in my view.

Mr Budu-Smith’s (Retired Director of Education) caution to our Polytechnics has caused some numbness in the spines of some interested readers. More doubts have been cast about our Polytechnics fitness for purpose which in turn defeats aspirant students pursuit for learning be it research orientated or skill based. A naïve question which I pose here is, are our Polytechnics over ‘matured academically’ rather than the Universities or what?, leading to usurpation of the title ‘University’ by a ‘Polytechnic’ and if so, what is the problem here? Perhaps, our Polytechnics must be commended for their hard work rather than being rebuked , I think.

One cannot deny the fact that curriculum innovation is a dynamic process which addresses many issues to include the notion that, there can be no curriculum development without teacher development! The Polytechnics perhaps are engaged ‘covertly’ in continuing curriculum renewal as opposed to adhering to ‘static’ curricular issues consequently in existence within the Universities, perhaps? From the ‘layman’s view point there is a need for external curriculum evaluators to advise both Polytechnics and Universities about any current changes needing particular attention.

Of course this must be done with the consent of our policy makers-a bitter pill to swallow, I think!

I am in tune here that recognised learning Institution should not usurp the central role of another by ‘designing and wearing a similar hat’ and as warned by Budu-Smith: “The Polytechnics should critically understand their mandate so that they may confidently play their very important role in the nation’s human resource development adding “The Polytechnics should know what they are and what they are meant to be 93.” These statements I am afraid, have not augured well in the eyes and minds of many readers/commentators. Further, the darker side of the lay press campaigns is the use of fear and guilt to achieve compliance from a Polytechnic or University in order to acquire one’s aims and objectives as it can be argued.

Fear and guilt within a learning circuit is a recipe for none-compliance within the taught and the curriculum and leads to serious educational consequence be it within a University or Polytechnic. This warning should not be overlooked . …

Asigri Daniel Z
Senior Lecturer
Practitioner Researcher in Education
Middlesex University

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