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Tertiary education graduates must be entrepreneurs, not job seekers — Kwesi Ahwoi


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Ghana’s High Commissioner in Pretoria, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, says the country’s tertiary education needs to reform in order to produce graduates who will be more entrepreneurial.

“The unfortunate part of our educational system is that almost every Ghanaian you meet wants the government to employ him or her. Education that trains you only to be in offices is definitely wrong, especially for a developing country like ours,” he told the Daily Graphic during the launch of the African Leadership University (ALU) in Mauritius.

African Leadership University (ALU)

ALU was founded by a Ghanaian social entrepreneur and educationist, Mr Fred Swaniker. Together with his team, their ambition is to open 25 campuses of the university across Africa and produce some three million graduates in the next five decades.

Mr Ahwoi, who is also Ghana’s ambassador to Mauritius, said it was unfortunate that graduates in Ghana would form an association, in apparent reference to the Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana.

“If a graduate is unemployed and you are proud of being unemployed, then the whole of your education has been a complete waste,” Mr Ahwoi added.

Memory lane

Asked if the country’s current educational system was flawed, he walked the Daily Graphic down memory lane, saying, when the colonialists were leaving, “We needed to train people to take over from them.”

He said that was the reason why Nkrumah opened all those Ghana Education Trust (GET) schools with the idea that they would train people quickly to fill that gap.

“Having filled that gap, there was the need to go beyond filling public sector gaps and looking at other sectors where we needed manpower. So he came up with the teaching University of Cape Coast, University of Science and Technology to address the science needs while University of Ghana was supposed to be for liberal arts and other courses.”

“It didn’t take long for these universities to say a fully fledged university must have all the faculties, so they diluted the focus and, therefore, now we are producing graduates who do not have openings in the job place,” Mr Ahwoi, who was also a former Agriculture Minister, said.

He said among the setbacks of the current educational system was the fact that the country was producing graduates who did not meet the needs of industry.

 “It is like there is a disjoint between the school system and the workplace,” Mr Ahwoi said, adding that there had to be a fusion of the two so that the schools would produce people needed in the workplace.

Currently, the country’s tertiary institutions graduate more than 50,000 students annually, most of whom strive to find jobs in the public sector.

Paradigm shift

In that regard, Mr Ahwoi said the options available were for the private sector or the graduates to be innovative and create their own jobs—a role which he said tertiary education could well play.

He, therefore, commended the leadership of ALU for its concept of university education which lays emphasis on integrating students learning with the real world, empowering students to take ownership of their learning and equipping each to think entrepreneurial.