ATU’s hospitality department risks takeover by Chinese firm

ATU’s hospitality department risks takeover by Chinese firm

The Accra Technical University (ATU) is on the verge of losing its food demonstration block at the school’s Hotel Catering and Institutional Management (HCIM) Department for the training of Ghanaian students in Chinese cookery – and to specifically deploy them to work at a Chinese company in the Tema Free Zones Enclave after completion of their studies.

A seasoned Ghanaian caterer, who is an alumnus of ATU and has strong ties with the department, told the B&FT that the deal, if there is any of such, could spell doom for the future of Ghana’s culinary and indigenous food handling should the university allow a complete takeover of its food demonstration block to promote foreign cuisine and cookery.

Stakeholders in the hospitality industry and some individuals who have close associations with the office of the Vice Chancellor of ATU are calling on government to intervene in the situation, and by extension save other technical universities from a similar fate.

The B&FT can confirm that what began as a Ghana-Lu Ban Project – meant to run a programme on Chinese Culinary Arts at ATU, according to sources – has led to the Chinese partners asking for more in the deal; and subtly extending this to annexation of a key facility…the Demonstration Block of the HCIM department.

The Lu Ban Project

The Lu Ban project gives training in Chinese Culinary Art. The programme aims to export the vocational skills and professional culture of Tianjin Province of China – nurtured on Tianjin modern vocational education reform by way of competition with other countries in the global food culture market.

Takeover of facility 

The food demonstration block is one of the buildings that has been designed in ATU to purposely provide and expose Ghanaian students to the core areas of the local hospitality industry through practical training in housekeeping, food and beverage service and indigenous food production. The facility, a two-storey building, has a restaurant, guest rooms, kitchen, changing-room deliberately configured for training Ghanaian students.

Reports however indicate that a Chinese Lu Ban team has proposed a structural alteration to the facility to befit training and teaching of Chinese cuisine – with a new kitchen that can only be used for training in Chinese cookery.

Most of the chambers in the demonstration block will be converted to tea and coffee rooms upon the takeover, a phenomenon that does not meet needs of the HCIM department.

“The Vice Chancellor and management team of ATU are keen to see the facility altered completely without taking the needs of students, and the employment needs of the local Ghanaian catering and hospitality market, into consideration,” the source said.

Calls for investigation by authorities

Interested parties in the hospitality and catering industry are calling on the Minister of Tourism, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, and the Ghana Tourism Authority to launch an investigation into the deal to ascertain the full extent of what it entails.

Ghana’s quest to revamp TVET education

Barely a week ago, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia launched the Ghana Technical and Vocational Education and Training Service (Ghana TVET Service) to give a facelift and boost mainstream technical and vocational education training in the country.

During the launch, Dr. Bawumia said TVET is the key catalyst that will stir up job creation for the teeming youth, adding: “Vocational and Technical education is a tool to develop the youth and directly engage them in gainful employment.”

Conversely however, stakeholders have noted that the happenings at ATU only create an enabling environment for training students to serve the interests of other countries.

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