People are of differing views as to whether a liberal education or vocational education should be more emphasized. Vocation can be said to be an activity performed by a person. Vocational education, therefore, refers to the education which equips individuals with the productive skills that will enable them to produce goods that have monetary and societal value.
Liberal education on the other hand refers to the education that liberates the mind of an individual making him or her exercise the freedom of the mind to inquire, open and reflect on issues about the world. Disciplines such as government, history, geography, literature, etc are the components of liberal education.
Ghana since independence has always been bottlenecked with the problem of unemployment, lack of skilled labour, and so on and so forth. all these problems can be attributed to the liberal nature of our educational systems. Liberal education is too academic, theoretical and complex but at the end of the still leads to unemployment and produce products that do not meet the technological and industrial needs of the Society. After 65 years of independence, Ghana still has a problem of unemployed graduates due to the liberal education nature of our education system. Vocational education tunes individuals to precise jobs. The reasons for the need for vocational education rather than liberal education are as follows;
In the first place, the problem of unemployment can be curbed. Vocational education equips individuals with the productive skills to produce products that are of value to society. Masons, carpenters, tailors, hairdressers, etc are people in the country who do not depend on the government for employment. They are gainfully and self-employed. If the education system is restructured that it equip school leavers with the skills that will enable them to become gainfully and self-employed why won’t the problem of unemployment be mitigated. These masons, carpenters, tailors, hairdressers, etc contribute to the economic development of the country through the payment of taxes and the training of apprentices.
Moreso, vocational education is needed to be able to produce a skilled labour force. Ghana has always relied on foreign states such as the USA, UAE, China, etc for skilled labour. Technical and pertinent industries such as timber, mining, brewing, manufacturing, etc need skilled labourers to run smoothly. Because the liberal education components such the history, government, law, civics, etc do not provide people with the skills to be employed in such industries, more foreign exchange is spent in importing such personnel from these foreign countries. Vocational education is therefore needed to train individuals to fit into these industries to save Ghana from the expenditure on foreign skilled labour.
Vocational education is also needed to help and prevent people who are not academically endowed to be of use to society. Due to the principle of individual differences, there are people who are not academically endowed and cannot succeed at academic tasks. These people who cannot meet academic tasks cannot be left idle and so they can be provided with vocational training to equip them with the skills to also be engaged. Because vocational education is not as bookish and theoretical as liberal education, people who cannot succeed at academic tasks can perform vocational tasks.
Furthermore, vocational education is needed to make effective and efficient use of our natural resources. Nature has blessed Ghana with resources such as rich soils, timber, minerals, metals, etc. Vocational education is therefore needed to produce skilled manpower that can efficiently utilize these resources to benefit to the country.
On these needs for Vocational education do I call on all stakeholders of education to help gear the education system from a liberal one to a vocational one to help all and sundry and the nation as a whole enjoy the full benefits of the vocational education system.
Amo Stephen, Atebubu college of education.