The report that the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) are to collaborate to promote the orderly and sustained growth and development of Kumasi must be the way things must work.
The two institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a formal collaboration which will promote joint projects aimed at solving the development problems of the city.
It is very unfortunate that because of inadequate financial resources, our institutions of higher learning have not the kind of impact and influence which they are supposed to provide in our development efforts.
Indeed, the essence of institutions of higher academic learning is that they would impact qualitatively on communities through the application of their research findings to provide day-to-day solutions to problems.
For, as was reported in the remarks of the KMA Chief Executive, Madam Patricia Appiagyei, at the signing of the MoU, the establishment and siting of institutions of higher learning, particularly universities, are done after thorough and comprehensive analysis of their likely impact on society.
Therefore, the time has come for local government administrators and their counterparts in our institutions of higher learning to team up, on symbiotic rather than parasitic basis, to influence each other to the benefit of our people.
The beauty of it is that while such collaboration provides the institutions with the basis for functional research which enables the students to participate actively in finding solutions to local problems, the cost of development innovation is reduced.
More important, certain innovations which accrue from such collaboration could then be produced commercially and sold by the institutions of higher learning to generate funds to step up their programmes.
Both ways, the Ghanaian taxpayer becomes the beneficiary.
There are countless examples elsewhere of collaboration between institutions of higher learning and local communities which have worked to the benefit of both — commercial activities in those communities have flourished, while the influence and impact of the institutions are so indelible all over the communities.
Names such as Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and Massachusetts are famous because of the symbiotic relations which have existed between the communities and these higher education institutions.
That is the nature of things and it is imperative that our universities link up with the communities to have overwhelming influence on them and our people.
The notion of our universities as Ivory Towers secluded from the realities of our people will be removed when our institutions of higher learning interact with the communities and influence the course of development.
In much the same way that the agricultural research institutions have made an impact on agricultural production where they are sited, it is our prayer that the KNUST will have a more diffused presence and influence on Kumasi to enable us to have a better appreciation of what universities can do for the communities in which they are sited.