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Danger Looms Over Higher Education   
 
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01-Nov-2011  
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As university graduates continue to struggle to find non-existing jobs, public and private universities in Ghana have conceded they are facing serious challenges producing highly skilled and analytical students.

They attribute this trend to student population which is high with inadequate and insufficient lecturers battling to cope with very large class sizes. Ultimately the quality of learning and teaching suffers.

The University of Ghana, the nation’s premiere public University for instance is forced to cram several hundred students in unfitting and discomforting lecture halls and halls of residence on campus, a situation which has a telling strain on both lectures and students.

The situation is no different from the other five public institutions and even in private universities where the situation is expected to be different, it does not seem the numbers are few. The bloated student population has affected the quality of supervision and assessment of students by lectures.

Multiple questions with objective answers have become the norm for examination questions in these public universities thus limiting the analytic, literary and debating abilities of students and also encouraging rote learning.

The National Accreditation Board’s pre-requisite for institutional re-accreditation in section 12. 3 of the NAB/INFO. A. 5 stipulates that “The ratio of staff to students must be adequate to ensure that the educational goals and objectives of the Institution and of its organizational units can be achieved”.

The Staff/Student ratio in Ghana’s public and private Universities however is miles apart from being adequate. The situation appears to get worse in supervision of students in research work despite the proven fact that strong research is the backbone of industrial and economic development as recently revealed in a new World Bank report on higher education titled “The Road to Academic Excellence: The Making of World-Class Research Universities”, which charts the experience of 11 leading public and private research universities in nine countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

The worrying trend has also resulted in high rate of graduate unemployment in the country as employers claim university graduates are half-cooked and unfit for the Job market. The tertiary institutions are being faulted for the development and the Vice chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey on several media platforms conceded that the situation is getting out of hand.

He is quoted as saying that, indeed graduates that are churned out by the universities are not fit for the Job market, a position a senior lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, Dr. Samuel Buame also holds.

Dr. Buame told the Globe Newspaper that “it’s quite a perennial problem where we have to battle with this large numbers so there is very little interaction between the lecturer and the student, for close supervision to monitor the learning process.

That is a challenge”. Dr. Buame said it will take some time for the situation to change across all universities in the country. The Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof Peter Donkor also told the Globe Newspaper that the huge numbers of students is becoming a bane for universities as lecturers are unable to properly teach students to the standard expected.

He said “everyone will admit that there is a shortage of teachers and the KNUST is suffering from this situation simply because student numbers are huge. We are taking great steps to address this by increasing the numbers that we recruit, but there is a limit to the success with which we can do that. Now we need lecturers with PHD degrees and that is a huge challenge especially because of the time you spend training such people”.

Professor Donkor said it appears the growing population of Ghana has young people who just want to have access to tertiary education although facilities to train them are overstretched.

He said there is the need to expand the base of tertiary education and hopes the situation becomes better in the coming years if funding is made available to the institutions.
 
 
Source: The Globe Newspaper
 
 

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