Distorted Manpower Requirements

It is undeniable that Ghana’s national manpower requirements and objectives have keeled over. Various policies adopted to ensure that we join the league of technology-oriented countries and even exporting same have for now remained a dream, faraway from changing the status quo. The hoe and cutlass approach to farming remains the backbone of food production, with the country dependent almost wholly on imports of everything- from rice to toothpicks. We bemoan the state of technology and dearth of appropriate manpower to match modern demands in the country, against the progress chalked by our contemporaries such as Malaysia with which we embarked upon the development journey. Malaysia has fared better, leaving us gasping for breath as our policymakers and politicians incessantly point at the Malaysian magic when they address forums on development and why we have failed to make appreciable headway. A little over five decades after independence, and we have barely made any progress regarding what the policymakers who crafted the blueprint for raising the level of technology envisaged. Policymakers have over the years- in fact, from independence to date- put forth one form of intervention or the other in a bid to change the faltering status quo. The educational sector stands tall regarding policy changes to achieve the technology dream, as tertiary institutions were primed to take in more science and technology students to form the backbone of the needed manpower to power the engine of growth. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, alongside the dozens of polytechnics strewn across the country, was at the driving seat of the policy, which is a major development in a post-independence Ghana. Many years after the policy change, and we are yet to get anywhere near the promised land. The recent alarm bell was tolled by a former Vice Chancellor of the country’s premier university, Prof Ivan Addae-Mensah, about what he described as the drifting away of tertiary institutions from their assigned norms and objectives, which he added, “are distorting national manpower objectives and requirements”. Indeed, this calls for serious reflection. If the egghead’s concern is not considered, against the backdrop of the scary statistics of the imbalance between the intake for the sciences and humanities in schools which he posted recently, we would be hitting at the wrong chord. The official national standard, according to him, is for tertiary institutions to attain a ratio of 60:40 science to humanities, but the ratio of 34:66 in 2003/2004 which now hovers around 39:61, is a far cry from the dream. Even more worrying is the fact that the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the polytechnics institutions, set up to address the challenge of inadequate or even absence of modern and appropriate technology, now have more arts students than science. We have got it all wrong and would have to return to the drawing board to search for a more pragmatic remedy, lest we are left behind by the speedy train of modernity as we clutch our primordial hoes and ox-drawn ploughs.