President J.A. Kufuor has challenged private universities to explore avenues to institute financial support schemes for students from poor financial backgrounds.
He said many qualified students from poor families were finding it difficult to enter private universities and expressed the hope that if such schemes were put in place, many talents would be unearthed and the nation would be the eventual winner.
President Kufuor made the call on Saturday at the launch of the Anglican University College of Technology, the first university to be established by the Anglican Church in Ghana.
The university is located at Manso Nkran, a predominantly farming community in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region. It is using the main yard and all other assets of the defunct Amansie West Resolute Mining Company, which has been released to the church, to serve as the main campus of the university college.
At the launch and fund-raising, President Kufuor made a cash donation of GH¢5,000 and promised a bus for the university.
President Kufuor noted that the decision by the church to establish the university outside the cities and big towns was a laudable one as it would help have quality education on the doorstep of the rural people.
He expressed the hope that the few problems in the area would not weaken the resolve of the church to achieve its goals.
Emphasizing the importance of science and technology to the growth of the nation, President Kufuor said the government's decision to tailor the educational system to meet the demands of the time was on course.
It was in that light that he commended the Anglican Church for focusing on science and technology and gave the assurance that the government would support the university to grow.
The President said statistics indicated that only a third of students who applied for programmes in the Sciences in the universities got admission due to various reasons, and stated that the establishment of a university that would focus on Science and Technology was welcome.
He indicated that the world was undergoing unprecedented changes as a result of science and technology and Ghana could not afford to be left behind.
President Kufuor noted that the establishment of the university was yet another manifestation of the long standing relationship between the state and the Anglican Church.
He said the Anglican Church had acquitted itself in the areas of education, health and social and spiritual development, and expressed the hope that the new university would further position the church as a true partner in development.
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who formally inaugurated the university, observed that education in a developing country like Ghana was always a resource-consuming enterprise. "Therefore, all of us, in any way we can, should and must contribute in order to provide the necessary human resources to advance the course of the nation."
He touched on the Otumfuo Education Fund and said the philosophy behind its establishment and the success achieved so far were well known to the public.
He said even though Ghana had rich natural resources, the current world order had proved that it was not primary commodities that could transform the nation but the knowledge to transform them into goods that were in demand on the world market.
"We cannot undertake that transformation without education, especially education in the sciences and engineering," he added.
The Asantehene noted that as an institution devoted to training scientists, technologists and engineers, it should seek to build and reinforce the nation's capacity to produce critical and essential human resource in science and technology, an objective that was yet to be addressed in the programmes of many of the new universities.
He said the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, of which he was the chancellor, would provide support to the Anglican University to blossom.
The chairman for the occasion, Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor, called on members of the Anglican community, NGOs and all Ghanaians to contribute positively to make the university grow.
He said the fact that many religious organizations were engaged in the establishment of universities was a testimony to the importance they attached to education and the development of the nation.
Dr Addo Kufuor, who is the Member of Parliament for Manhyia and a staunch Anglican, said the Anglican university had the potential of helping to reduce poverty in the country, especially in the rural areas, where 8grlculture was the mainstay of the economy.
"This university is expected to help transform agriculture from the machete and hoe type to mechanized agriculture," Dr Addo Kufuor said.
He traced the history of the nation's education via the Anglican Church to the 18th Century and said the establishment of a university was appropriate for a church that had so much supported the nation's educational drive.
Dr Addo Kufuor noted that the "grammar type" of education had not helped the country much and expressed the hope that the Anglican University College of Technology would complement the efforts of others to change the situation for the better.
The Anglican Bishop of Koforidua and Chairman of the Central Implementation Committee of the university, Rt. Rev. Francis Benjamin Quarshie, commended the government for releasing the assets of the mining company to the university.
Prof. Mariam Ewurama Addy has been appointed the Vice Chancellor of the University.