50% attrition rates in Africa’s tertiary institutions — Ghana education minister

MINISTER of State for Tertiary Education, Ghana, Professor Kwesi Yankah, says there is an estimated students’ attrition of almost 50 per cent in tertiary institutions within Africa.

He said there is a low gross enrolment ratio in tertiary education within Africa, and that an abysmally low percentage of those whose ages fall within the bracket of 19 and 24 go through tertiary education.

Professor Yankah spoke as the special guest of honour at the opening ceremony of an eight-day workshop tagged ‘Western Hub Training,’ jointly organised by the University of Ghana (UG), Legon; Pedagogical Leadership in Africa (PedaL) and Master of Research and Public Policy, supported by the UK Department For International Development (DFID) under the Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR), held at the UG and Swiss Spirit Hotel and Suites, Accra, Ghana.

Yankah further noted that Africa’s tertiary institutions almost exclusively concentrate on research and publication, sometimes considering effective teaching as an afterthought or an intrusion.

He, therefore, charged participant universities at the training on the need for learning and innovation centres where cutting edge teaching methodologies are taught, and enjoined new faculty and teachers appointed to undertake workshops in pedagogy as part of their orientation prior to stepping into the classroom.

Professor Yankah said the current Ghanaian government has developed a policy that requires teachers in the university to obtain a teacher’s certificate as a major reform in teacher education.

The pro-chancellor of University of Ghana, Professor Kwame Offei, in his opening remarks said that the theme of PASGR/PedaL programmes closely aligned with UG’s vision of being a world-class university that is committed to scholarly excellence.

Declaring the Western Hub training open, he applauded PedaL initiative and collaboration with the university, noting that as a partner of PASGR/PedaL programmes since 2017, the effect of the training on quality of teaching had been immediate in the universities.

“Staff who have been trained have restructured their course outlines to incorporate pedagogical strategies such as case studies, flipped classroom, simulation and role play, as attention to gender dynamics in delivery has been given due recognition.,” he said.

Speaking on the overview of the programme, the director of higher education/ PedaL team, Dr Beatrice Muganda, said the training was aimed at enhancing the competences of about 100 teaching staff of UG, with participation from 12 other universities in Ghana and the sub-region, so as to integrate pedagogical innovations in a cross-section of university programmes and to join the growing community of practice across the continent to share resources, knowledge, ideas and experiences during as well as after the workshop.

She informed that PASGR worked closely with the University of Ghana and other partner universities such as University of Ibadan, Uganda Martyrs University, University of Dar es Salaam, Egerton University, Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex, UK) and African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) to constitute a diverse team to deliver an exceptional learning experience at the Western hub training.

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In his address, the founding chairman of PASGR, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, said PedaL training is important in Africa because the world around higher education learning has changed globally as a result of new technology.

“The needs of students are different today from what they were some 20 years ago; hence, the university system must prepare its lecturers accordingly,” he noted.

Representing the arm of the industry at the event was the regional chairman, Accra Association of Ghana Industries, Mr Tsonam Cleanse Akpeloo, who said, “What the industry is looking for is an arrangement that allows training in our universities to be tailored towards the specific needs of industries. It is important that academia gets interested in what the industry desires. This should become the foundation of their training methodologies.”

He called for an efficient representation of the industry in the pedagogical leadership in Africa training programme so that the academia could be privy to the real feedback it needed to really transform teaching and learning in the university system saying, “there are lots of things the first academia may not consider as crucial, but we do and they need to listen to us.”

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