School-based enterprise and school –to – work transitions in fashion and textiles vocations: a conceptual model for HND CBT Fashion and Textiles Programme in Ghanaian Polytechnics

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JUNE 2015
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In 2001, JICA upon request of Ghana Government completed the Study for Development of a Master Plan to Strengthen Technical Education in the Republic of Ghana. The JICA Study recommended the introduction of CBT into Polytechnic Education as a means to correct growing mis-match between skills of trained graduates and competencies needed in industries. Based on this recommendation the NPT/NUFFIC CBT Curriculum in Fashion and Textiles dubbed ‘Design and Production of Fashion and Textiles’ was started in 2004/2005 and was successfully piloted and evaluated in October 2009. Preliminary research showed that the new HND CBT Fashion and Textiles curriculum had deficiencies in practical entrepreneurial competencies. This deficiency was identified by stakeholders during the final evaluation of three years of piloting the curriculum at Accra Polytechnic (NUFFIC NPT/GHA/046 CBT Project for Fashion Design, Accra Polytechnic 2009). The deficiency revealed a glaring gap that needed urgent attention. The review also established that productive education which to a large extent equips trainees with trade and industry skills has long existed, but its implementation has not been widespread. This established the framework for the study with the purpose of seeking approaches to incorporate PBCs into the new HND CBT Fashion and Textiles curriculum to address the entrepreneurial gap, while making attempts at filling the void created by the low implementation drive of SBEs. The objectives of the study were to: examine selected best practice approaches to CBT business education in fashion and textiles; examine the structures and activities of Polytechnic Fashion and Textiles Production Units as potential components of SBE for HND CBT Fashion and Textiles; and lastly, to develop a conceptual model of SBE as part of the HND CBT Fashion and Textiles programme in Ghanaian Polytechnics. The study was a mixed method approach (qualitative and quantitative) and employed the descriptive-survey and case study methods. Interviews, self-administered sets of questionnaire and observatory excursions were used to gather data after-which descriptive analysis was done by deriving associated themes. The themes constituted specific headings under which the responses gathered were assembled and discussed. The study revealed that currently the HND Fashion and Textiles programme is less related to actual world of work and that graduates do not exhibit PBCs on the job. This meant that the programme is not demand- iv driven and also lacked much needed business orientation and focus. The best practice approaches of relating formal training in fashion and textiles to actual working practices outside school was to adopt adult learning methods, which were found to be multi-faceted and heavily practice-based. The study revealed that SBEs can guarantee acquisition of PBCs by students in fashion and textiles academic programmes. This establishes that SBEs could be integrated into the new HND CBT Fashion and Textiles curriculum to enable trainees acquire the needed PBCs to be industry relevant. This outcome confirmed earlier findings by Stern et al. (1994), Gugerty et al. (2008), Stratton (2008), Smith et al. (n.d.) and DECA (n.d.) that SBEs are effective in ensuring productive education with adequate transferable skills that graduates can utilise in their future jobs. The existence of production units attached to HND Fashion and Textiles programmes in Polytechnics have great potential and promise for conversion into SBEs. Based on these existing foundations a conceptual model of SBE has been developed for incorporation into the new HND CBT Fashion and Textiles curriculum. The components of the model are; SBE Curriculum Plan which proposes two practice-based courses (Enterprise Practice I and II), an SBE Business Plan and Guidelines for Implementation and Operation of the SBE. It is concluded that since majority of HND Fashion and Textiles graduates struggle to establish themselves and practice successfully in the manufacturing and core business sectors of the fashion and textile industry, they need additional skills to fit into the core business sectors of the industry. If PBCs can be acquired, then it means that a lot of competency areas are left uncovered by the school system that planners and trainers must re-visit. The school therefore does not exhaust the training of HND Fashion and Textiles graduates if training is limited to intellectual learning and technical skills acquisition while remaining silent on business related skills. As a recommendation, an intervention that could save the situation is to focus on incorporating SBEs into the new HND CBT Fashion and Textiles curriculum. The school should be fashioned as a mini-workplace where problem solving and critical thinking is encouraged for productive learning of trainees. This makes it imperative to adapt the concept of SBE as part of the CBT/Learning approach.
A dissertation submitted to the Department of General Art Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Art Education.