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Opinions of Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Columnist: Steiner, Abraham

School Community Partnerships Can Close Unemployment Gap

of Ghanaian Graduates

“Every year, PAYCHEX employees take the time to mentor students in the Rochester City School District, specifically in the LyncX Academy. Students learn about business practices and the steps needed to succeed. They're also given an opportunity to shadow employees. On this day, students were invited to PAYCHEX to meet other employees and to have lunch.” Reference Rochester City School Website (This is what we need in Ghanaian Schools).

A couple of days ago President John Mahama challenged tertiary institutions in Ghana to tailor curriculums, in order to graduate students whose degrees will be relevant to the Job Market, after the president’s speech Dr Awuah of Ashesi university and the chancellor for central university expressed their view on the disconnect between the universities and the Ghanaian Job market. However apart from curriculum change which the president emphasized on, I believe educational partnerships is an area that could expose students at an early age to various careers and close the gap or disconnect between the universities and the job market.
My sister was educated at Bishop Girls School, which was directly opposite to Bank of Ghana and the Ghana Library Board. Along the High street was also Ghana commercial Bank, Standard chartered Bank and Barclays Bank. Ghana House, Multi Stores, GB Olivant etc. were also commercial shops or businesses around that area that was once the commercial Hub of Accra. Despite the close proximity there was no form of partnership between the schools on High street and the business community that surrounded them. The students could have had real life professional experiences such as partnering with local banks to create mini school bank branches where student workers could have a day shadowing real bank tellers in a real bank environment. They could also have a partnership with multi stores or Melcom which would give students the opportunity to learn about the principles of business such as buying, selling and accounting.
Another location in which they could have had real life professional experiences is Tema; a port city is another industrial hub in Ghana. Tema has two harbors, a fishing harbor and a commercial harbor. Schools in Tema could develop all forms of partnerships in the form of marine business and clearing, logistics and shipments. A good partnership that I envisage is a partnership between the Nautical College and Community 2 and Community 5 cluster of schools. In Takoradi, where St John’s Secondary and Takoradi Polytechnics oversee the harbor city, one should believe that a partnership in Marine Business could stimulate student’s interest into fields that are accessible in the community.
Furthermore, the universities in Ghana do not engage in any form of partnership with elementary and secondary schools in Ghana. It is imperative to mention that most Ghanaians first visit to Legon, Cape Coast, KNUST or Winneba happens to be their first day for matriculation into programs of study. Most that don’t get to go to university seldom have a day at any campus. I think it would be excellent if this academic institution will open their doors to students in elementary and high schools in forms of partnerships where student from the universities will serve as role models to students in basic education and also to expose them to the academic majors at an early age.
To conclude, I can sincerely mention that an educational partnership between the Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Sports and Ridge Church School many years ago exposed me to the game of tennis and through that I made a career out of it. I believe that the creation of educational partnerships between schools and businesses in Ghana will boost student achievements and close the unemployment Gap of Ghanaian graduate students.
The writer runs a Not for Profit Organisation - E.A.G.L.E.S (Educators Affecting Growth Lives of Every Student) that distributes donated reading books and Sports equipment to schools in Accra and its environs.

Abraham Steiner
Cert A Post Sec Ada Training College
B.Ed University of Education Winneba
M.Sc State University of New York Brockport
M.Ed St John Fisher College Rochester New York