ADDRESS BY PROF. ING. KWADWO ADINKRAH-APPIAH, VICE-CHANCELLOR, AT THE OFFICIAL INAUGURATION OF SUNYANI TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY AND 21st MATRICULATION CEREMONY HELD ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2016.
The Chairman of Council, Prof. Kwame Agyenim-Boateng,
The Honourable Deputy Regional Minister Mr. Justice Samuel Adjei,
Members of Sunyani Technical University Interim Governing Council,
The Pro Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Solomon Korantwi-Barimah
Vice-Chancellors of sister Universities,
The Most Rev. Dr. Kwasi Gyamfi, the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sunyani,
Registrars and Directors of Finance of sister Universities,
Kontihene of Sunyani Traditional Area, Nana Bofotia Boamponsem II,
Members of Convocation,
Members of Sunyani Technical University Alumni Association,
Freshmen and women,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am highly honoured to welcome you all to this memorable ceremony which symbolizes the inauguration of the Sunyani Technical University, launching of the new University Logo, launching of a five-year strategic plan, which will guide the future direction of this university, and honouring of some distinguished personalities by naming some landmark facilities after them for their invaluable contributions to the development of this institution.
Also, at this ceremony, freshmen and women admitted to pursue various programmes of study at the Technical University for the 2016/2017 academic year will be matriculated.
Mr. Chairman, permit me to give a brief account of our past to the present. The Sunyani Technical University was established as a Technical Institute in 1967, as a non-tertiary institution, under the Ghana Education Service. It was subsequently upgraded to a Polytechnic in 1997, following the passage of the Polytechnic Law of 1992 (P.N.D.C. Law 321), by the Government of Ghana, as a Tertiary Educational Institution to run Higher National Diploma (HND) programmes. The Polytechnics Act, 2007 (Act, 745), which was an amendment of the P. N. D. C. Law 321, subsequently mandated the Polytechnics in Ghana to run and award Higher National Diploma (HND) Certificates, Diplomas and other higher degrees, subject to the approval of the Polytechnic Councils.
Ladies and Gentlemen, It will interest you to know that during the first ten years of the upgrading of the Polytechnics to tertiary status, not a year passed by without one form of agitation or the other by students, Lecturers or non-teaching staff. There were demonstrations and boycott of lectures by students to back their demands for recognition of the HND certificate, avenues for academic progression and appropriate placement of the Polytechnic graduate in the Public Service.
The Lecturers and non-teaching staff on their part were unhappy about their conditions of service, often basing their discontent on salary disparities between them and their counterparts in the universities who possessed the same or similar academic and professional qualifications.
Mr. Chairman, much of these discontent and agitations witnessed in the Polytechnics in the early years could partially be attributed to the absence of clarity in the mandate and relevance of Polytechnic education, compared to that of the Traditional Universities, in national development.
It was to solve the problems of lack of academic progression for Polytechnic graduates, lack of clarity and relevance of Polytechnic Education and poor conditions for the Polytechnic faculty and staff that the Polytechnics Act, 2007 (Act, 745) was enacted. However, the objectives of this act were not realized as regulatory authorities in the tertiary education sector demanded charters from the Polytechnic institutions before being allowed to run higher degree programmes.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the government of the Republic of Ghana, in its resolve to find a permanent panacea to these problems, recently enacted a new law through its Parliament in August 2016, dubbed the “Technical Universities Act, 2016 (Act, 922)” to convert all Polytechnics to Technical Universities, to address the frequent agitations of both Lecturers and students, and more importantly, to redefine the role of Technical and Vocational education in national development.
Consequently, Mr. Chairman, the rationale behind the conversion of Polytechnics into Technical Universities by the government was:
- To redirect technical/vocational education to train students from the Technical Universities to acquire high level technical skills to drive the country’s economy and national development agenda,
- To contribute to raising the quality and competitiveness of the Ghanaian workforce by providing opportunities for company employees to upgrade their skills and acquire new skills,
- To reduce the admission pressures on the traditional universities,
- To provide academic progression avenue for technical and vocational students,
- To curb the growing phenomenon of academic-type “top-up” programmes for HND graduates from the traditional universities and,
- To provide opportunities for Technical and professional skills development, applied Research and Publication of Research findings.
The passage of the Technical Universities Act, 2016 (Act, 922), therefore, gives the legal backing to the establishment of the Technical Universities with a clearly defined mandate.
Mr. Chairman, a national ceremony to inaugurate all the 8 Polytechnics that qualified for conversion to Technical Universities, after an intensive evaluation exercise, was performed by the Hon. Minister of Education in Accra on 5th December, 2016. Today’s local inauguration of the Sunyani Technical University (STU) is to fulfill a constitutional mandate to pave way for the 4-year Bachelor of Technology (B-Tech) programmes and other higher degree programmes to commence at the Sunyani Technical University.
Mr. Chairman, I wish to use this occasion to assure members of staff of this Technical University that their continued employment in this University is guaranteed by article 42, Section 6 of the Technical Universities Act, which states that “A person in the employment of a Polytechnic in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Act, shall be deemed to have been duly employed by the respective Technical University established under this Act on terms and conditions attached to the post held by that person before the coming into force of this Act.”
Mr. Chairman, as I indicated earlier, at this same ceremony freshmen and women who applied to study in the Sunyani Technical University for the 2016/17 academic year will be matriculated. This is the 1ST matriculation ceremony of the Sunyani Technical University.
The purpose of matriculation ceremony at the beginning of every academic year is to formally admit new students into the University. The newly admitted students are expected to swear the matriculation oath of the University and pledge solemnly and publicly to obey the statutes, rules and regulations of the University and to study diligently in the pursuit of knowledge and truth.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, this year, the university admitted 1,532 students into its various Programmes in Engineering, Applied Science and Technology, Built Environment & Applied Art and Business and Management Studies. From this number, 972 are males while 560 are females. Thus, at this ceremony, a total of 1,532 freshmen and women will be matriculated.
Mr. Chairman, for the past four years, student enrolment has dropped significantly due to competition from both public and private Universities around us. However, with the conversion of the Sunyani Polytechnic to a Technical University, it is our expectation that our intake will soar in the coming years with the introduction of 4-year B-Tech programmes, in addition to the existing HND with the top-up options.
It is also expected that the conversion of Polytechnics to Technical Universities has the potential to increase enrolment into Technical/Vocational Institutions as there is now a clear cut academic progression for such students. In this regard, I wish to make an appeal to the incoming government to equip and convert all the newly established Community Day Senior High Schools, built by the out-going government, into purely Technical/Vocational Schools to serve as feeder institutions for the new Technical Universities. The records indicate that there are 670 Grammar Senior High Schools in Ghana that prepare students for the traditional universities, whilst only 48 Technical/Vocational Schools are in place to feed the Technical Universities in technical programmes.
Students will also have the opportunity to pursue higher education in Technical Universities to further enhance their practical competency with entrepreneurial skills to be able to fit into the world of work and also set up their own businesses.
Mr. Chairman, The first intake of students for a four-year Bachelor of Technology programmes will start immediately after receiving accreditation from the National Accreditation Board (NAB). We have submitted ten programmes in Engineering, Applied Science and Applied Art to the NCTE and NAB for accreditation. The university will, however, continue to offer HND programmes and Top-up B-Tech programmes to offer past and present HND graduates the opportunity to obtain their first degrees so that they can pursue their Masters Degrees in future. Academic departments have also been tasked to start working on Master of Technology (M-Tech) programmes to ensure continuity in academic progression for our students.
To the freshmen and women, I hope, during the orientation week, you were taken through the do’s and the don’ts of this university. There are rules and regulations meant for providing a congenial environment for your studies. Disciplinary measures are in place for students who breach these rules and regulations of the university. However, I wish to assure you that the University will always protect and support students who are respectful, law-abiding and disciplined.
Please read and understand fully the rules and regulations of the University as contained in the Students Handbook which will be made available to you today. Breaking of these rules and regulations will definitely attract appropriate punishment.
I advise all students, especially females, to refrain from walking alone in dark places, especially during the night, to ensure personal safety.
Let me now congratulate you, freshmen and women, for being the privileged ones, among many others, to have been offered admission into the Sunyani Technical University as first entrants. Education is an investment, with a long gestation period. There are high expectations from your parents, friends, local communities and the nation. Please do not disappoint them. Continue to work hard so that you will achieve your objectives of coming to this Technical University. Use the facilities made available to you, most especially the Library and the internet facilities, to undertake research and improve upon yourselves before you leave here.
I wish you all fresher’s a happy and successful academic career in Sunyani Technical University. As an educational institution, we are very proud of our students. Most of our students who passed through this University have excelled in their various places of work. We would like you, freshmen and women, to emulate their examples and make us proud.
Finally, whilst the University Administration is making efforts to create a congenial environment in the University to improve teaching and learning, we will continue to face some challenges due to financial constraints. Please bear with us and let us dialogue through your Students Representative Council (SRC) whenever you face any challenges.
I wish you all a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. Please remember to celebrate the Christmas festivities in moderation as your families need you, Sunyani Technical University needs you, and above all Ghana needs you.
From the bottom of my heart I wish to thank you all for accepting our invitation to grace this memorable occasion.
Thank you and May God bless you all.
Prof. (Ing) K. Adinkrah-Appiah