When Ghana became politically independent in 1957, the education system, thus; schools, colleges and universities, was purposely set up, primarily to produce skilled workforce for the young nation.
Also, research institutions were to support to sustain the industrialisation agenda for the crawling economy.
Largely, knowledge, science and technology became the foundation stone for the country’s economic growth and development strategic plan. Still up to now, more public and private universities have continued to spring up and surely each substantive region can now boast at least one polytechnic or a technical university.
Purposefully, our educational system needs to be in touch with its relevance and, therefore, make our graduates 21st Century problem solvers and not problems themselves. As a result, they should be made productive and efficient for our economic growth and development.
Sadly, majority of them rather become subjects of our economic woes and objects of social worries. It is the result of this national concern that a look at a contemporary alternative measure , for example, entrepreneurship education, to the situation becomes imperative at this material moment.
Crucially, entrepreneurship education, as a recent development, is found to present a contemporary solution to global graduate unemployment and that of Ghana, in particular.
It has been called for as a major policy intervention and a mandate to equip the youth with functional knowledge and skills in wealth creation.
Entrepreneurship education has the potential in setting up an eco-system that promotes innovation and strengthens the characters and attitudes of youth towards self-reliance and empowers them to gain self-confidence in pursuit of better vision.
Currently, the attention given to entrepreneurship education in Ghana is not without concern and the need for it to be intensely integrated into our national education system this time is evident.
Hence, the all-out campaign lately reveals that a great deal of interest has been shown to co-opt a successful entrepreneurship education system and expectations are really high.
Change of direction
Thus to establish a strong result-oriented educational eco-system in the country, the role and mode of operation of our schools and university systems must change to meet the status of the 21st Century systems.
Certainly, the new role of universities requires authorities to redesign the system to meet our high expectations in achieving results from our education.
We need an array of institutions that should be set up to coexist together in a very specific way to enable the system to bear results.
Each entity in the system, I must state, will need to support the existence of the other in a fine and complex balance to create a system whereby entrepreneurship and innovation are encouraged and reinforced to ensure self-sustainability.
Furthermore, results-oriented education system means introducing significant changes in core aspects of the existing curriculum and teaching approaches.
Consequently, those who will facilitate entrepreneurial training need to be properly trained to be facilitators of knowledge and skills during transfer rather than commanders in learning. To achieve this, education system developers and policymakers have to play a central role in the realisation of our expectations as a nation.
Universities and entrepreneurship
In particular, universities responsibilities to society have now gone beyond just teaching and basic research to include a direct contribution to economic growth and development through commercial value creation in industry. Certainly, this development has called for the concept of entrepreneurship and innovation to be introduced and emphasised in our educational system right from basic education to the tertiary level.
To respond accordingly, our universities can put entrepreneurship at the centre of their operations because they are well positioned to train students to develop entrepreneurial skills and capabilities while on campuses. Also, in pursuit of entrepreneurial objectives, universities can engage stakeholders within and outside their local areas to create enabling and supportive institutional environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to prevail.
That is not all, they can develop the right leadership, create the right entrepreneurial mindsets and visions with a culture of incentives to provide the needed mechanisms and support for entrepreneurship. Moreover, tertiary institutions can take the lead in new ventures creation through commercialisation of intellectual property by spinning out companies and also to generate more funds internally.
For universities to fulfil their new roles as local development and innovation champions, they can also go ahead to establish innovation centres, incubators so that the public can equally spin in, and offer practicable entrepreneurship education to facilitate the growth of effective entrepreneurial eco-systems in all regions.
In essence, more contemporary development models accord entrepreneurship a more active role in generating economic prosperity and this system should bring it to the doorsteps of local institutions to take responsibility. In principle, universities can contribute principally in different forms to the establishment of entrepreneurial eco-system to bring unemployment figures down.
The writer is a consultant in entrepreneurship and business development and an expert in university-industry interaction, knowledge transfer and innovation.
Source: Dr Abdul-Fatahi Abdulai Kambala