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04.07.2005 General News

GT University signs MOU

Statesman

THE Ghana Telecom University College, formerly Ghana Telecom Training Centre, has moved its commitment to training the needed human resource base to support Ghana's quest to becoming an ICT hub in the West African Sub Region to top gear with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Advanced Level Communication Institute in Accra last Thursday.

The move – which comes at the time the University College is in talks with the World Bank for the provision of a $50 million loan facility to help fund its five year development strategy of decentralising ICT training and education in the country – is to help the yet to be accredited University College boost its professional and high-level training in telecommunications and ICT which takes off in September this year.

Sources say by September this year, the University College would have received full accreditation from the National Accreditation Board to start running as an undergraduate institution.

Part of the loan – when granted by the bank – will, explains the Principal of the University College, Dr Osei Darkwa, go into the establishment of the first ever Centre for ICT Education in Africa. The Centre will aim at “supporting technology enhanced learning and supporting all other institutions who want to move in that direction.”

In an interview with The Statesman, Dr Osei Darkwa, in emphasising the need for a “vigorous ICT development backed by strong human capacity building to champion Ghana's and Africa's development agenda,” said the money will help the University College to develop its own infrastructural capacity in the area of state of the art ICT laboratories and other modern teaching and learning facilities “so that after three years, we will not need funding from the World Bank but that we will be able to stand on our own.”

While expressing the optimism about the World Bank and other donor institutions like the USAID, IMF among others, coming to financially support the College, Dr Darkwa, who is also the brain behind the project after only seven months in office as the head of the College, said the loan, when granted, will be repaid within a three-year period.

When asked how the University intends to pay back the loan the Principal replied: “Our business plan shows that if we are given a loan over a three year period, we should be able to pay back through tuition…, paid-for services to institutions in the area of specialised IT services for people who want to move in a directional technology and house learning, and in the area of instructional design as well as broadband connectivity. We will also be developing CDs which shall be marketed etc. so for a loan of $50 million, we should be able to pay back in three years.”

He explained that the University College, which is placing premium on distant learning, is “pioneering blended learning which mixes physical campus with virtual institutions” in educating and training its students.

While adding that priority will be given to online course in particular, Dr Darkwa said the College would thus run a “mixed mode system of training in all the districts in Ghana so that it will be unnecessary for prospective students to come to Accra because our campus will be in ten or twenty locations nationwide.”

He told The Statesman that the vision of the authorities is to set up a “University that is very unique and that which responds to the challenges of our country and the African continent at large.”

He said with “strong partnership and collaboration with the International Telecommunications Union, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation among other leading ICT organisations, we will be able to bring quality instructors either physically or virtually so that students who enrol with us will be exposed to the best level of training in the filed.”

The two institutions also aspire to, by the signing of the MoU, enhance “professional skill training of staff of both institutions through training, staff interactions and exchange of experiences and information.” They will also jointly initiate and implement training programmes that will enhance capacity building in telecommunications and ICT for the sub-region and the entire African continent.

To provide where possible, resource personnel to offer training at both institutions in the appropriate professional areas for each member of staff is also one of the aims for the signing of the MoU, while eyes are also on collaborating in “undertaking research and provision of consultancy services to businesses, government agencies and institutions.”

“Our partnership with ALFRATI will create abundant opportunities for our students to integrate their classroom knowledge of technology and entrepreneurship with practical work experience,” said Dr Darkwa in a speech to mark the signing of the MoU, adding: “Through our collaboration, our students will be exposed to the fast paced scientific and technological development of this region.”

He was confident that the partnership with ALFRATI would “prepare students of the University College for a range of carriers in the highly competitive innovation driven global economy.” He also expressed the hope that a good number of the students will blossom into successful entrepreneurs with a strong sense of civic and social responsibilities.

The two institutions would also cooperate through “the exchange of information, best practice and mutually agreed projects on issues relating to professional staff development, technology transfer, workforce planning and development, including service and academic interface, training and telecommunications management and strategic planning.”

Dr Darkwa, who has been a Professor of ICT in the United States of America for some 10 years, said: “We believe these areas are of extreme importance in moving our respective institutions forward.”

He said the institution aims at establishing itself as a “world-renowned centre of excellence in education, research, teaching and intellectual creativity and innovation.”

The institution, he revealed, will offer academic programmes in core areas of telecommunications engineering and informatics.

He said: “Teaching research and service development are core values and guiding principles that promote economic development and the well being of the citizens of Ghana and GTUC places a high premium on academic outreach, collaborative relationships with business and industry, government agencies and other colleges and universities at home and abroad offering programmes in its core areas.”

He explained thus that, the signing of the MoU with ALFRATI will further promote the above goals and vision of the institution, since by this agreement, GTUC will be able to “bring relevant cutting edge technology and training to this country,” adding: “We will be in a better position to prepare students to function in a challenging and increasingly interdependent world.”

On his part, the Director of ALFRATI, Edward Mallango, lauded the signing of the MoU as essential for the devolvement of ICT in Ghana and on the continent, adding that it will also enhance the two institutions' ability to develop world class human resources and capabilities to meet corporate individual and national development needs and global challenges, through quality training and dissemination of knowledge.

It will be recalled that the GTUC recently signed an agreement with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to collaborate in areas of curriculum development and exchange of faculty. They will also collaborate in state of the art training for students by combining their industrial and academic experience to offer students from both institutions “hands on training in ICT.”

They will also in future collaborate in running post graduate training courses in ICT.

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