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11.06.2005 General News

African govts urged to support study of physics


Koforidua, June 11, GNA - The President of the Society of African Association of Physicists and Mathematicians (SAAPM), Professor Francis K.A. Allotey, has expressed concern about the decline in the study of science, especially physics, despite the importance of the subject for the socio-economic development of the country. He said, in the late sixties and the seventies, Ghana was one of the best in Africa in physics with Ghanaian physicists working and contributing to the extension of the frontier of knowledge in diverse fields such as energy, nuclear, cosmology and space physics.

Prof. Allotey was delivering the keynote address to mark the launching of the Eastern Regional celebration of the International Year of Physics at Koforidua on Thursday. The theme for the celebration: "Physics for tomorrow", was to commemorate the centenary of Albert Einstein's publication of several scientific theories which greatly influenced international understanding of the universe.

Prof. Allotey attributed the problems mitigating against the study and development of science in Africa, among others, to the shortage of textbooks, poor research facilities, inadequate interaction among African scientists within and outside and the lack of adequate remuneration, recognition and support by governments. He debunked the notion held by some political leaders in Africa, the developed industrialized world and donor agencies which question the need in spending scarce African financial resources on physics teaching and research as basis for wealth creation.

According to him, the notion that developing countries should only buy finished technology packages developed elsewhere be rejected, saying the transfer of technology could only take place effectively between individuals with the same educational levels.

Prof. Allotey who is also the President of the Ghana Institute of Mathematical Sciences, declared that the "real wealth of a nation today is no longer raw materials, the labour force or machinery, but in having a scientific educational technology manpower", adding, "education has become the real wealth of the new age." According to him, Singapore, Japan and South Korea made it to developed countries status because they went into massive financial commitment for the study of the wealth creating sciences.

Prof. Allotey cited the example that, by applying science and technology to farming practices, the developed countries, with less than four per cent of the people were engaged in agriculture, were able to produce food for themselves and for export, while in Africa, with 65 per cent of the population in agriculture, they could still not produce enough but to depend on imported food from the science-based societies.

The Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Yaw Barimah, in a speech read on his behalf, said through the holding of the annual Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (STME) workshops for basic school students, especially the girl-child, the government sought to make the study of science friendly for the children. He, however, noted that the study of physics and other science subjects in the country was being hampered as a result of the massive brain-drain of science lecturers who leave for greener pastures.

Mr Alexander Annoff of the Ghana Education Service (GES) Inpectorate Division who gave an overview of the trends in mathematics and science study in the country said the country participated in an International Junior Science Olympiad in Jakarta, Indonesia, last year and won a bronze medal. Earlier, in a welcoming address, Mrs Phyllis Bernice Opare, an electronics tutor of the Koforidua Secondary Technical School, reminded the youth that the study of physics, like other sciences, provided an avenue for them to give something to society for their educational attainment.

The chief of Jumapo, Nana Kwame Oppong Owusu, who chaired the function, appealed to the government to provide adequately equip schools' laboratories to motivate both teachers and students towards the study of sciences.