Government’s conversion of some polytechnics in the country into technical universities but taking too long to do same for the others appears to be pushing the Bolgatanga Polytechnic gradually to a verge of collapse.
A number of analysts, as well as some anxious old students of the school, have said the institution could just one day turn into a ghost campus where lecturers would have nothing in front of them but empty desks to instruct and to groom into ‘future leaders’.
The school’s enrollment figures, they say, are drastically shrinking as many admission seekers, who prefer to be associated with technical universities, are turning away from yet-to-be-upgraded polytechnics. The concerned stakeholders want government to act fast, turning things around quickly enough, before the institution runs aground into a hopeless wasteland.
The institution, according to sources, usually sold close to or in excess of 1,000 admission forms every year until it found itself ‘relegated’ when others were ‘elevated’ in the ‘premier league’ of polytechnics. A disturbing example is just last year when the school sold out only 567 admission forms.
Checks show only 373 forms had been sold Tuesday (yesterday). Usually, at least 600 forms would have been bought by this time in times past. And because forms no longer sell like hotcakes, the school, which depends largely on internally generated funds (aside from the overheads and electricity bills taken care of by government) to run its affairs, is compelled to extend the admission forms closing date beyond November to keep its head above water. It is foreseeable the deadline extension will turn the school’s academic calendar on its own head as it is bound to eat deep into a fresh semester.
“As old students, we are not happy. We feel that they have to act and act swiftly to intervene and save the school from collapse. From the way it is, if care is not taken, if urgency is not added, if they don’t sit up, we might return here one day and virtually have an empty campus. That is the reality. That is what we know. That is the state of the school. Just last week, I tried to get information about forms being sold for the academic year and it’s nothing to be happy about.
“It’s having an impact on enrollment because nobody would see an institution that would award you a degree and still want to go through an institution with a diploma status. It’s making us lose out in the market. Our enrollment numbers are dipping. It’s affecting the running of the school because the school largely also has to depend on IGF and they come basically through the admission fees students pay. We live in fear that we might return here one day only to meet only the workers,” said the President of the Bolgatanga Polytechnic Alumni Association, Muntala Adama.
Government’s commitment to Committee’s Report questioned
All of the country’s 10 public polytechnics were assessed for upgrading by a technical committee the alumni said was set up by the Ministry of Education under the erstwhile Mahama Administration.
But so far, only six of the tertiary institutions have been granted the much preferred technical university status. The list of the six includes the Accra Polytechnic, the Ho Polytechnic, the Sunyani Polytechnic, the Kumasi Polytechnic, the Takoradi Polytechnic and the Koforidua Polytechnic. The Tamale Polytechnic and the Cape Coast Polytechnic will soon join that list as their conversion processes reportedly are near over.
The criteria-conscious committee, according to the alumni, was satisfied at the things it saw at the Bolgatanga Polytechnic, but it baffles them the institution is still in an indefinite frame of mind, just like the Wa Polytechnic, as to when it will have its turn to be recognised like its promoted peers.
“To our surprise, we (the Bolgatanga Polytechnic) were not included. We even think that the government of the day can make an announcement that Bolga Polytechnic is being converted into a university whilst the paperwork and other processes are going on.
“With that notice, people would be hopeful. But as we speak now, government has not officially announced and we don’t even know when, and we are almost beginning an academic year. We are aware that a report has been laid before the Minister of Education who is supposed to send it to cabinet for consideration. We don’t know where it has gotten to,” Mr Adama fumed.
He added: “We are at a disadvantage because others have taken the lead. We believe it should be en bloc. We should all get the status en bloc and be given the accreditation to operate en bloc whilst necessary steps are taken to fill whatever gaps are left.”
The Alumni should write to the Technical Body— Education Minister
Responding Tuesday to the concerns raised by the alumni, the Minister for Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, told Starr News in a telephone conversation the association should put its demands across in a letter to the appropriate quarters.
“They should write to find out how the conversion is done. Let them go and find out from the right quarters, the National Council for Tertiary Education, about their conversion. The ministers don’t do conversion. It’s the technical body that does it. If they recommend that it should be converted, it would be converted,” the minister said.
The concerns about the state of the polytechnic were strongly reechoed when the alumni association officially opened a secretariat which, according to the president, was meant to, among other things, coordinate the activities of the union, bridge the gap between members and the school and partner with the school’s management in advertising and selling of admission forms.
Calls for unity, teamwork, love for the alma mater and the need to project the school dominated speeches as some key members took turns to address the gathering. Among the speakers were the Local Chairman of the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU), Elias Ayinbila Apasiya, the Local Chairperson of Technical University Administrators Association of Ghana (TUAAG), Felicia Lariba Saabon, and a past president of the institution’s Students’ Representative Council (SRC), Julius Issifu.