Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ashesi University, Prof Stephen Adei says the notable disconnect between academia and industry because university education is simply an extension of secondary schools rather than churning out critical thinkers.
There is a general consensus that graduates from the country’s tertiary institutions lack the requisite skills needed to take up positions available in industry, thereby, making them jobless.
President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday urged universities in the country to redesign their academic curriculae to align perfectly with the needs of the job market.
“Studies have established that investment in human resource is one venture that yields the maximum benefit to any nation. We face the very unpleasant fact that for many of our graduates a university education no longer guarantees a job,” the President said in Accra while addressing the 50th anniversary of the Association of African Universities (AAU).
Commenting on President Akufo-Addo’s remark, Prof Adei said the trend could persist a little longer if graduates continue to get an education that makes them think that “somebody owes them a job.”
“There is no doubt at all that what we are having at most of our universities is ‘mass education’ [literally]…we are not likely to come up with the type of products that will be needed.
“So in a sense, I think much of our higher education is basically an extension of secondary school and that will not produce critical thinkers [and] people with leadership qualities,” Prof. Adei said on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM.
Tuesday’s edition of the Show was transmitted live from the premises of Ashesi University, Brekusu near Accra. The institution this week, organized a 6-day workshop dubbed ‘The Education Collaborative at Ashesi’ which begun on Sunday, June 4 and is expected to end Friday, June 9, 2017.
‘As a pioneer in blending the liberal arts and sciences in Africa, Ashesi is recognised across Africa as a model for higher education. With a vision of African universities leading the continent’s renaissance, Ashesi is reaching out to colleagues and partners across the world to build an idea-sharing platform; one where university leaders and stakeholders can collaborate to harness best practices in teaching, management, and administration,’ the school says on its website.
‘Creating monkeys to swim’
Dr. Alex Awity Director of East African Institute at Aga Khan University, Kenya who also shared his thoughts on the discussion said: “higher education is in crisis across the continent”.
According to him, the structure of education in Africa “privileges the instructor” who, takes the centre stage and basically issues instructions. This kind of system, he pointed out, diminishes the capability of the students to think on their own.
“You are creating a monkey and what you are expecting the monkey to do is to swim; they can’t because they are not used to that kind of environment. When you create a monkey, you need to create a lot of trees and a lot of branches,” he told Show host, Nhyira Addo.
He, therefore, urged industry players to get closer to academia in order to impart their knowledge onto students.
“We need professors of practice [to] come into the university to teach, learn new ideas and go back to practice,” Dr. Alex Awity recommended.
Other discussants on the programme were Mr. Anthony Ebow Spio, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Business Administration and Dr. Sena Agbodjah Agyepong, Lecturer also at the Department of Business Administration at Ashesi University.
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