Mr Kwaku Ennim, the Chief Executive Officer, Zeal Environmental Technologies has called on Universities in Africa to reconsider the structure of its educational system by transforming from the theory-based approach to practice-oriented education.
He suggested a strategy christened “Theory Into Practice” (TIP) to catalyse the transformation into more skills and competency-based education systems to meet the needs of industry players.
Among the strategy was the redesigning of the curriculum into competency-based learning for skills acquisition, the use of multiple learning methods and simulation, introducing thinking and problem-solving approach, and closer collaboration with industry players for hands-on experience.
Mr Ennim made the call at the African German Entrepreneurship Academy (AGEA) policy day conference in Accra on the theme “Contributions of Practice-Oriented Entrepreneurship Education for Socio-economic Development of Africa”.
The conference was supported by DAAD, the largest funding organisation for international exchange for students, the Leipzig University, and the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.
He called for the need to establish thinking and innovation centres to serve as practice labs for entrepreneurship courses, stressing that the country cannot solve its socio-economic problems or created opportunities if entrepreneurship was taught in a vacuum.
Socio-economic issues, Mr Ennim said required a multidisciplinary approach and teamwork, calling for the need to collaborate internally and focus on soft skills development to complement technical skills.
He said the country’s curriculum design must focus on value creation rather than exams and the need to reshape the attitudes and morals of young entrepreneurs.
He urged the government to support the efforts of academia and industry in transforming the socio-economic climate by increasing financing for high potential entrepreneurs exponentially.
“We need to reduce the interest on loans to lessen the financial burden of young entrepreneurs since other countries’ interest was as low as 2 per cent while Ghana’s own is 30 per cent more than 60 years after independence”, he said.
He said the private sector should begin to have an interest in the drive towards practice-oriented teaching, learning, and research, especially in tertiary and TVET institutions.
Mr Ennim called for a platform to welcome students, graduates, and instructors to share their knowledge and ideas to promote the co-operation of ideas and solutions to socio-economic problems.
He enumerated challenges like poor resourcing of Universities and business incubators, lack of political will to make important long-term decisions, lack of prioritization of entrepreneurship by non-business departments, and low level of effectiveness of support institutions affecting the higher educational system.
Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology said for Africa to progressively close the development gap with the rest of the world, it would need higher levels of growth, productivity, and job creation.
This, he said would require countries to invest substantially and strategically in higher education for the needed development outcomes.
He said the AGEA had set the pace for sustainable opportunities for young business students to thrive and commended all partners for a new way of teaching entrepreneurship through the offering of appropriate tools, methodologies, and equipping facilitations in the various universities.
Prof Owusu-Dabo said the pandemic had presented the country with an opportunity to innovate and test the human resolve at entrepreneurship, adding that the increase in competition and globalisation would motivate both academia, industry, and government to join forces to enhance productivity.
Mr Samuel Yaw Akomea, the AGEA Country Director said the Academy had created a friendly platform for students in KNUST to bring their business ideas for discussion and fine-tuning them to meet the demands of the market.
He called for a policy to protect young entrepreneurs who want to partner with an experienced entrepreneur so that they would not be shortchanged in the process.
Mr Akomea who is also the Head of Centre for Business Development, KNUST said the Academy had supported over 80 start-up companies with technical expertise and funding to scale up their business models and that over 1000 direct and indirect jobs have been created so far.