An assessment of the teaching and learning environment in Ghanaian Polytechnics under the Tertiary Education Reform Programme

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In 1992 the Ghana Government launched the Tertiary Education Reform Programme with the goal of revitalising and expanding the tertiary education sub-sector. This was in response to the decay that had hitherto characterised the educational system following the economic decline of the 1970s and early 1980s. Tertiary education policy and the development of the sub-sector are currently guided by the government’s “White Paper on Reforms to the Tertiary Education System”. The principal objectives of the reforms were to: • Reverse the deterioration of the system, falling standards and declining quality of education. • Increase access to tertiary education. • Establish a stable and sustainable basis for the financing of tertiary education. • Create institutional capacities for quality monitoring and policy evaluation. As a result of the reforms the polytechnics were elevated from second cycle institutions to tertiary status, with the fresh mandate of training the country’s middle level manpower. In 1993, the Tertiary Education Project (TEP) was launched with the assistance of the World Bank and other donor agencies to assist in the implementation of the reform programme. Although the TEP has succeeded in improving the quality of tertiary education in the country to some extent, the polytechnics continue to face some major problems that militate against the realisation of their full potential. It is the realisation that the system is once again in danger of collapsing that prompted the present study. The focus of the study was therefore on how to sustain the quality of the teaching and learning environment in the polytechnics. Five polytechnics were selected for the study, based on the stratified random sampling technique. Accra, Ho and Kumasi were selected from the first stratum of polytechnics that were in existence prior to the launching of the reforms, while Koforidua and Sunyani were selected from the second stratum of those that were established later. Both primary and secondary sources were used for data collection. The major findings of the study are as follows: • The quality of the physical infrastructure has improved considerably. However, all the polytechnics require permanent libraries and more workshop and laboratory equipment. • The rate of increase in enrolment far exceeds the target, thereby putting a lot of pressure on the facilities, which might lead to further deterioration. • The level of both financial and human resources is rather too low to guarantee quality education. • There is the need to ensure a more effective management of financial resources through the deployment of the required level of resource to the critical areas of teaching. A number of recommendations have been made as to the way forward. These include freezing enrolment at current levels, intensifying staff development efforts, and adherence to the norms that have been developed by the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) for institutional development. The polytechnics play a very important role in the training of national requirements for middle level manpower. There is therefore the need to adequately equip them if the nation is to realise its vision of becoming a middle level income country by the year 2020.
A Thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Development Policy and Planning, 2000