The College of Technology Education, Kumasi (COLTEK) of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) broke grounds in academia as it successfully organised the maiden International Conference on Competency-Based Training and Research (ICCBTR) from September 13 – 15, 2017 in Kumasi. The conference, which was under the theme “Building the next generation of Technologists: the Competency-Based Training Paradigm”was participated by hundreds of academics and researchers from Ghana and other West African countries. Competency-Based Training,

Business Studies, Vocational and Engineering studies as well as Multi-disciplinary Studies were some of the academic disciplines from which research papers were presented and deliberated upon during plenary sessions. Welcoming participants to the conference on September 13, 2017, the Principal of COLTEK, Prof. (Ing.)Reynolds Okai described the conference as a pioneering feat that had placed COLTEK on a unique pedestal in academia. He also urged participants, especially, the foreign ones to make time to visit various projects currently on-going in COLTEK including the Centre for Competency-Based Training and Research as well African Development Bank’s sponsored laboratories and workshops for technical and vocational programmes and the multi-purpose 3000 seating capacity Conference Centre.

In a speech delivered on his behalf by the Dean of the Faculty of Education Studies, Prof. George Kankam, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony Afful-Broni urged participants to “focus their future research to critically diagnose the ailments of TVET for the socio-economic development of our nation”. “TVET research should no longer be about the role of TVET, the importance of TVET, the contribution of TVET, etc. instead, TVET research should focus on issues relating to evaluation, relevance, efficiency and the effectiveness of existing TVET delivery schemes and alternative modes of delivery including CBT as well as labour market information and manpower forecasting”, he added. Such a paradigm shift, he noted, could move TVET forward and obtain information necessary to inform planning, monitoring and innovation in the TVET system.

The Minister of Environment, Science and Innovation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, who delivered the keynote address, stressed that if the country’s education were to be deemed relevant, then it should be able to prepare students to be thoughtful, innovative and capable of producing new things with their hands. “Education should equip us to understand the factors and parameters that have bearing on our survival”, he added. Subsequently, he emphasised that education was key to a people’s escape from poverty, guarantee to greater social prestige and mobility, good health and nutrition, economic development, peace and stability and the promotion of concern for the environment. For his part, renowned Mathematician and Scientist, Prof. Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey re-echoed the need for the country to work at bridging the technological gap between itself and the developed countries. That according to him was achievable if the country would invest more resources into research. Again, he called on the leadership of the country to pay attention to creating a thriving environment and awareness on mathematics, science, technology, communications, entrepreneurship and critical thinking in order to create wealth and sustainable development for the country.

The conference came out with a Communiqué, which among other things, indicated participants’ commitment to support efforts at improving training and research in the technical and vocational sector.