Feature Article of Sunday, 22 April 2012

Columnist: Mohammed-Nurudeen, Mahmud

Inside Polytechnic Education: Graduates expectations in fetters

It was a scotching Sunday, one of those I would never lay to rest from my memories when I was to attend an afterwards marriage ceremony in the Kumasi Metropolis to shell out some deference and feel affection for the bridegroom and the bride, Mr. and Mrs. Rubamma for tracking the footprints of enormous men and women. Since excuses were worn out 3 days after the ceremony, there was no single at this point in time, I could have tabled before Mr. and Mrs. Rubamma. Standing by the street for virtually two hours waiting to board the customary trotro to town, countless together with private cars and Taxi drivers never psyched me as they sustained to pass by; I then swore to go back home in the next 10 minutes to make high-quality use of my time and to salvage myself from the Sunday’s bilking.

“Kejetia, Kejetia” I heard the mate outcry in front of me. From the sub-metro, where I live to Kejetia was approximately 10-15 minutes drive but one could not inform when there was a heavy traffic.

As I sat in the trotro I noticed two youthful men. Right in front of me was a young man (Sadat) and my immediate left was another gentleman (Musah) smiling and informing each other what to do when they first arrive in school. Staring at their expressions, one could distinguish the newness in them. With a giant smirk on their face, “I inquired are you students?” “Yes, yes” they retorted. Which school? “Polytechnic, Sadat answered”.

As I scrutinized, I began to launch messages to the central memory on how these students might have hanged about in the house for scores of years after their Senior High Education. I posed, “why Polytechnic”? They began to pour out their experiences and unfruitful attempt to dig up into the Tertiary level. “It was not trouble-free getting admission into Training Colleges, Universities among others. I (Musah) made an effort at the Nurse Training College and by no means succeeded.

Pushed similar effort at the Teacher Training College but ended up effortless and in vain.” My brother (referring to me) one cannot stay in the house for 2-3 years just because they want to be admitted into Nurse/Teacher Training/University. “This is my first endeavor at the Polytechnic and my lights is on” he said with a romantic smile. Never mind to ask which Polytechnic, I lent them a helping hand to carry their luggage to the Cape Coast Lorry Station. Then, I commenced to think of Cape Coast Polytechnic.

Many others who were at the station with their guardians or parents demonstrated a character of happiness in them as they waited to see Cape Coast and it environs. Things were not different at the Ho, Tamale, Accra, Takoradi and Koforidua station but for those departing to Kumasi Polytechnic, they only needed to board a taxi. The stations became so packed with students who for one motive or the other settled on the Polytechnic education.

One of them said that, he was in high spirits to have got admission to pursue HND Accounting course: however another who was sitted next to him at the station claimed to have no alternative following numerous endeavors to get into the Teacher Training. But for those with technical education, they have no extra choice than to join the masses. In my secondary school days, a certain Mr. Amaliba Anthony notified me that Polytechnic institutions do not get hold of jobs and for that matter would not advice a colleague to go into Polytechnic education. “You would write many applications and you would never get a job for yourself.” He stated

I committed to memory a brother, Mr. Abass Abdul-Karim who graduated from Tamale Polytechnic and had to sit in the house for pair of years. I instantly concurred with Mr. Anthony. “Nothing could ever make me go into Polytechnic education” I put in plain words to Mr. Anthony After a quantity of years, I began to instigate myself; if Polytechnic education does not fetch jobs why then do students go into it? Did not they know they would not get employment after graduation? Or they just want to fritter away their time? Soon after, I became conscious that Polytechnic education was to provide more practical knowledge and tertiary education through full time courses in the field of manufacturing, commerce, science, technology, applied social science, applied arts and such other areas as may be determined by the authority for the time being responsible for higher education; encourage study in technical subjects at tertiary level; and provide opportunity for development, research and publication of research findings.This clearly indicates that the central focus of Polytechnic education is its career-oriented nature.

It was also to make available practical knowledge to students to become well vest in their programme of study.

One of the many reasons I found out sections of Ghanaians go into Polytechnic education is the belief that it offers more practical work to students than theoretical.

“I want to acquire practical knowledge so that I can establish my own business venture. I leant the Polytechnic education gives extra practical knowledge that is why I am here.” a first year student at the Tamale Polytechnic expressed. Look at these two scenarios; a Polytechnic graduate and a second year student at Kumasi Polytechnic. “During our days in Polytechnic, there was nothing like practical though some of us went because of it practical environment. All we did was to commit our handouts to memory in order to outrival our exams. They (Lecturers) have never shown us a practical field before or laboratory related to our studies to any practical issue.” The graduate explained regrettably.

The second year student bitterly made public that, “Things are not getting glowing here. If you are offering an engineering course and a lot are not done about the practical aspect, what then would make you an engineer? Every serious student in the house can study the handout and comprehend what is in it. After all, I was not here to learn and pass only but to also feel the practical aspect of my course so that something good can come out of me.” One can read from the above two paragraphs that, these persons found themselves in the Polytechnic for the reason of it practical andits career-oriented nature.

The question this writer inquires is whether the aims and objectives of the Polytechnics are achieved? The Polytechnic education was supposed to provide opportunity for development, research and publication of research findings.

How many times have we seen this research and research findings publicized? Polytechnics libraries are full of continual project work and no any real research and findings. What students do is to obtain a project work from other Polytechnics or the same Polytechnic which they call “Grandfathers” with no any further findings reproduce everything and print it as their own project work for the award of Higher National Diploma (HND).

Just read this from a student of Ho Polytechnic “I have about three research topics all from Accra Polytechnic. If my supervisor approves any of them, I would just cut and paste.”

“I made a photocopy of a project work at the Kumasi Polytechnic and submitted everything to my supervisor and I was done.” A graduate confessed A final year student at the Takoradi Polytechnic communicated to the writer of working on unchanged project work that was done in 2008 at the same department. “My supervisor does not even know I am working on an already done project.” I ask again are the Lecturers / Supervisors not concerned about the project work students carry on or is that the research and research findings the Polytechnic education is to provide?

The writer’s investigations made public that, supervisors are not worried about their students project work: they do not seize their time to give details what the learner should do. All they do is to tell students to bring chapter one, chapter two, chapter three and so forth but never troubled to read all the way through for the necessary corrections. Again, inadequate qualified and professional staffing is another issue coming to blows with teaching, learning and research in the Polytechnics. It was also grasped that students who make efforts for further clarification on what to do may have their project work delayed. This and many more motivate students to seek help from the “Grandfathers”. After glancing through a graduate research work, I asked myself if a supervisor approved it for the award of HND. I wish the reader could go to one of the Polytechnics library and find out things for themselves. No wonder some graduates cannot write a good report.

The elements of subjects taught for the Higher National Diploma (HND) programmes is falling back since the Polytechnic education is a career-oriented and therefore must give more emphasis on the practical aspect of the course. On the occasion of the NABPTEX/Polytechnics meeting in Accra in March, 2011, Rev. Prof. Daniel A. Nyarko, Rector for Takoradi Polytechnic, said “the development of curriculum for all the HND programmes appears to be lagging behind and requires immediate attention to make them relevant and industry-friendly. This is to form to the current thinking and the vision of the founding fathers that Polytechnic education should be career-oriented with more emphasis on the practical content of the various courses”

Notwithstanding that, the longtime graduation of Polytechnic students steps them down in furthering their education and securing job in the country. Graduates who spoke to this writer revealed that they were denied jobs and admission into some of the public Universities due to the fact that their certificates were not ready. “I have used my transcript to apply for a job but they always tell me to provide my certificate before I will be considered. Now that I have graduated and my certificate is ready, praises to GOD.” A graduate explained.

“I completed in 2009 and I have just graduated. What do you think I was doing for the past years without my certificate? No job, no further education. All because my certificate was not ready” another added.

The writer’s breakthrough indicates that, graduate who attempt using their transcripts for admission into some of the public universities may be denied on a condition of providing their original certificate. The only Public University which allows students to apply with transcript is the University of Education, Winneba. For this, I say well done University of Education for your input in making Ghana a better place for all.

This and many more undermine the polytechnic graduate.

The writer is a freelance Journalist based in Kumasi mmnurudeen2011@gmail.com (+233) 0264 54 94 94