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20.11.2008 Education

Educational curricula should focus on brain development

By GNA

Professor Edwin Gyasi, head of the Department of Geography and Resource Development at the University of Ghana says there is the need to place emphasis on brain development in our educational system

to help solve the developmental problems that we face as a nation.

He explained that our current educational system focuses on literacy and innumeracy instead of focusing on developing peoples' analytical capacities.

Literacy is the ability to read and write while innumeracy is one's knowledge in mathematics or figures/numbers.

Prof. Gyasi speaking at a seminar held to commemorate the celebration of African University Day on Tuesday, pointed out that even though Africans need literacy and innumeracy,” it was important to also develop our brains and other skills to help find solutions to poverty and it related development problems.”

“Our educational curriculum is pitched on an abstract level, it appears that it is a bit removed from the realities on the ground and it still reflects the colonial structures,” he said.

He was speaking on the topic: “Sustainable Development in Africa: The Role of Higher Education.”

He said education has a role to play in addressing the people's sorry living conditions, and explained that if only Ghanaians develop their brains then they could think about solutions to the problem of water shortage, poor health, maternal mortality and especially poverty.

“Re-orienting our academic programme could help us respond to basic needs which have become major challenges for us as Ghanaians and Africans.”

Prof. Gyasi advocated for more research based programmes in higher educational institutions and urged academicians to make interventions in government programmes based on their research, adding, “We need revision of syllabuses in a way that gives priority to applied work.”

He noted that Africa's problems were such that there was the need to train people to develop skills that could help them solve their problems.

“Incomes of an estimated 340 million people or half of the continent's populations who live on less than half a dollar a day,” he said, called for innovative approaches that address African problems by African scholars.

Prof. Gyasi said for such a programme to be effective there was the need to mainstream farmers and other ordinary citizens into research design and implementation using an inter-disciplinary approach.

He therefore suggested the creation of a popular platform for democratic debate of developmental issues to enable all citizens to participate in the development process.

Prof. Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana who chaired the programme admitted that there was the need for a lot of education and applied research to help in the development process.

He identified funding as a major problem in research programmes and activities and said: “policy makers should fund research while making use of the research findings.”

The Association of African Universities (AAU) commemorate November 12 each year as the African University Day.

The day is used to create awareness about the role of higher educational institutions in sustainable development and help raise the quality of higher education in Africa in order to strengthen its contribution to African development as a whole

This year's day was marked on November 18.

Prof. Jerome Aloko-N'Guessan, a director at the Geography Department of the University of Cocody, Abidjan, commended the AAU for the programme and said it was the best way to sensitize the public about the impact higher education could have on sustainable development.

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