Competency-Based Training in Ghana

For the past two decades, Ghana has been one of the most politically stable countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this stability, the country faces serious poverty-related social challenges. One of the most pressing development challenges is the urgent need to improve access to quality vocational training aimed at improving and modernizing the informal sector. To respond to this problem, the country has developed the Technical Vocation and Education Training (TVET) Policy Framework which calls on institutions to provide quality, industry-focused, competency-based learning programmes.

This past August, a group of over 60 participants came together in Accra to work at developing a competency-based system for Ghana. The two-day workshop was organised by the Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Education Science and Sports, with the technical and financial assistance of Bow Valley College, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The objectives of the Workshop on Best Practices for Competency-Based Training (CBT) were twofold: identify best practices and lessons learned in CBT from experiences in Ghana and around the world; identify and recommend best practices for implementation in Ghana.

The Centre for Intercultural Learning was asked to assist in the design and facilitation of this workshop. The Centre has developed and implemented many workshops of this type as part of its iFOD (Intercultural Facilitation & Organizational Development) line of service. The iFOD method leverages the intercultural facilitator as a neutral third party and engages participants in a dialogue on key issues vital to the success of their collaboration. This approach leads participants to develop an understanding and a shared vision of the project or program, become more committed to it, and create new solutions together. One key principal of the CBT workshop was ensuring sustainability and a "fit" with the local context. The design and facilitation team included key Ghanaian stakeholders and was built on awareness of traditional workshop methodologies and acceptable practices. The workshop paid careful attention to Ghanaian hierarchy and protocol issues, including openings and closings by higher level officials and prayers.

Bow Valley's partners in the Ghanaian government were committed to the success of the workshop and worked actively in shaping its design and in ensuring that the key stakeholders were invited and attended. The Bow Valley team brought in both African and Canadian resources including Zimbabwean Lewis Durango, one of Africa's leading authorities on the implementation of CBT.

In the workshop's closing remarks, John Budu Smith, Chairman of the Education Reforms Sub-Committee on TVET said "the workshop represented one of the major chapters in the evolution of TVET in Ghana." And as another guest speaker remarked, the key to Ghana's development is education, but technical education is the master key.