Interview: Franklyn Manu
To what extent are university curricula aligned with the rising demands of the job market?
FRANKLYN MANU: To a large extent, on paper, they are. If we want to move Ghana’s development agenda forward then we need to relate more to industry and to public sector management. For those of us teaching management, there is this dichotomy between private and public sector management. Some think they are two different things, but they are not. The private sector will not thrive unless the public sector is efficient.
We need to do more to integrate the curricula of public management programmes with that of private sector ones. It is essential to understand public policy and how the government sector operates. No one operates in a vacuum. I suspect that most countries in the world face this same dichotomy.
How can tertiary education be improved and accreditation standards enhanced?
MANU: The whole process of accreditation needs to be looked at more carefully. One understands the need to provide tertiary education, but at the same time we are going at it too fast, by letting all types of institutions spring up, some of which do not have the resources to provide a good education. We need to maintain standards. As a result, there are a lot of people with so-called tertiary qualifications, but companies will not hire them.
I would like to see more partnerships, instead of everyone setting up their own schools. These small schools really do not have the resources to do a good job, and having the accreditation board ask other universities to supervise these small institutions is problematic. The accreditation criteria must be strengthened and the accreditations board needs more capacity to approve new universities.
As a country, we have lost control of the education system and the government does not have the money to provide all of it. You cannot deny people an education, but at the same time opening up the system means that people are getting sub-standard education.
It starts at the beginning of the educational cycle. There is a big gap in quality in different areas of the country. Teachers do not want to go into the rural areas, which makes it very hard for some schools to attract talent. Sometimes people trained as teachers do not want to work in that job. They end up working in a bank or in a company because the private sector pays more. So the question is: who is going to teach? Everybody wants to work in a bank and make more money. Not a lot people want to go into education.
This whole model of education needs a rethink. Maybe the model of sitting everyone in a classroom should be evaluated, especially when there are not enough resources. Maybe we should invest in satellite education, using technology and a big screen to have good quality education provided from a central location to schools in rural areas. We need to innovate.
Can the private sector expand vocational training?
MANU: No one wants to do vocational training these days. Everyone wants to go to university. But this is an area where we need people. Construction is booming, for example, and a lot of skilled people are needed. I don’t see the private sector contributing much to funding vocational training. They pay lip service to it, but their contribution is minimal.
Is there scope for private sector cooperation in more traditional degree programmes?
MANU: There is huge scope for cooperation between the private sector and universities. Why can’t industry support research and innovative teaching? All the textbooks used at Ghanaian universities were written for an American or British environment and feature case studies from other countries. There are no case studies of Ghanaian companies to put students in touch with their home environment. This is something the private sector could really sponsor, to encourage students to learn about Ghanaian companies and industries, instead of just learning how to do business in foreign markets.
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