General News of Saturday, 29 September 2018
A mass withdrawal of lecturers is reported to have hit the Bolgatanga Polytechnic owing to an unexplained delay on the part of government to convert the institution into a technical university.
A press release issued Friday evening by the Bolgatanga Polytechnic Branch of the Technical University Teachers Association of Ghana (TUTAG) says those leaving the school are “the core staff the institution needs and has spent huge sums of money from the GET-Fund allocation of the Faculty Development Fund to train both locally and abroad”.
Although all the country’s polytechnics are said to have met the criteria demanded by a technical committee to be granted a technical-university status, all except the Bolgatanga Polytechnic in the Upper East region and the Wa Polytechnic in the Upper West region have been upgraded.
Just two months ago, some upset alumni told Starr News the polytechnic’s main site at Sumbrungu was disintegrating into a ghost campus because admission seekers, after government’s ‘selective’ upgrading had cropped the institute to an unlikeable second-rate alternative, were moving in their numbers only to where they would finish as technical university graduates.
Little did anyone imagine some lecturers, too, would jump out of the ‘sinking ship’ to secure their jobs as the Minister for Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, is yet to convince the Upper East region in respect of the reason its polytechnic has been consigned to an isolated rear.
“The delay in the conversion is generating anxiety among the staff of the polytechnic due to its concomitant effects namely low enrollment, staff attrition and lowering of status,” said a statement issued by the TUTAG Chairman for the Bolgatanga Polytechnic Branch, Emmanuel Akanpaadgi.
“Besides, the delay in the conversion has triggered an exodus of lecturers migrating to other public universities and if the polytechnic is not converted within the shortest time, it will exacerbate the situation,” the association stated. “The members wish to express their dissatisfaction over the continuous delay by the Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, and the government in converting the polytechnic to a technical university,” they added.
The worst enrollment figures so far
Until government took the first step early in 2014 to convert polytechnics into technical universities, the Bolgatanga Polytechnic was enjoying a fairytale demand from enrollment applicants nationwide selling an estimated 1,000 admission forms every year.
Relegated by the delayed conversion, it sold just 567 forms in 2017. The 2018-2019 academic year has begun, with only 524 forms sold so far. The latest sales, less than what was seen last year, generally have been described as the worst the polytechnic has seen since its creation in 1999, that is, 19 years ago.
The new academic year is going to start with a discordant first semester: continuing students will take their examinations in December, this year; fresh students will have theirs in January, next year. This is because authorities, still having a lot of registration forms to give out, are compelled to keep enrollment advertisements running and admission gates opened as far as November.
“The enrollment in the polytechnic this academic year has been the worst since the establishment of the institution as many potential applicants prefer to go to the technical universities, although they are going to pursue the same Higher National Diploma (HND) courses that are being offered here.
“Hitherto, because they were all polytechnics, the institution was able to compete for its fair share of students. But now that eight out of ten polytechnics have been elevated to technical universities, it has become very difficult to get students to enroll,” a visibly peeved TUTAG noted in the statement.
TUTAG disagrees with Education Minister
The Minister for Education is said to have ascribed the delay in upgrading some of the polytechnics (including the Bolga Polytechnic) to the fact that “some things remain to be done” when he took his turn two months ago to brief the press in the national capital on the affairs of his ministry.
But TUTAG disagrees, saying: “The argument by the Minister of Education is untenable because none of the polytechnics that have been converted scored 100% in the assessment. Apart from that, the provision of additional facilities in the polytechnic and the conversion are not mutually exclusive (not different from each other)”.
The press statement added: “After working hard to meet the requirement set by the technical committee that came for the reassessment and the passing of the Technical Universities Amendment Act, Act 922, members thought that by now the Bolgatanga Polytechnic would have become a technical university. However, this appears to be a mirage since we do not know why the institution is not converted and when it will be converted”.