... As Sister Institutions – Vc The Vice Chancellor of University of Education – Winneba (UEW), Professor J. Anamuah-Mensah, who is currently in the United States of America has disclosed to Ghanaians studying at Ohio University that UEW will in the near future engage in an exchange program with the American university where both lecturers and students from the two institutions will be involved. In line with the above, two Masters Programs, namely Educational Leadership and Administration and Educational Technology are been designed to set the tone for the initial takeoff and that a proposal has been sent to Carnegie Foundation for support. Professor Anamuah-Mensah also said that Dr. Francis Godwyll, a Ghanaian Lecturer at Ohio University is working on the memorandum of understanding for its implementation by the middle of October 2005. The VC hinted that as part of the arrangement a Journal is being designed which will be a joint research and publication work of the two institutions.
The above revelations came to light when the VC and his Pro VC, Professor Jonas Akpanglo-Nartey interacted with Ghanaian students at Ohio University. They were happy that the Ghanaian students population at OU which stood at 75 was quite encouraging, and that the post graduate programs that they are pursuing are relevant to the developmental needs of mother Ghana. The VC therefore called on the students that upon completion of their various courses, they should come home to help accelerate the wheel of development by the use of their creative minds. He stressed on the need for Ghanaians studying abroad to be meeting regularly to discuss issues that can bring about improvement in Ghana. He suggested that such ideas should be communicated to people who are in authority and involved in policy issues. He personally said that he is ever ready to champion that course should they feed him with the final conclusions of their deliberations.
During question time, Dr. Kwesi Boateng, who recently graduated from the School of Telecommunication – Ohio University, posed a question which centered on a recent publication in the media that the Government of Ghana was going to implement free education for all, Dr. Boateng wanted to know how the universities in Ghana were going to absorb these candidates should everybody qualify taking the facilities and capacities of our tertiary institutions into consideration. The VC explained that universal basic education has long been proposed and that it is even in our constitution. He said that in spite of the fact that Ghana was a signatory at international conferences like the ones held in Thailand and Senegal to promote universal basic education, but the will power to implement it has not been there. He said that what the government is doing at present is the use of some interventions like the abolishing of fees and in place of these fees the government was providing capitation fees and therefore said that it will be illegal to charge fees. He further explained that for a nation to develop it needs its human resource base to be developed, and that the dropout level at the basic school is around 20% which is very high and even bad among the girls. Linking it to university education, the VC said looking at the educational map of Ghana admission to these tertiary institutions the figure is only 2.5%, and that the universities need to increase their intake to meet the demands of the country. The VC said the figure is even low in the mathematics and science disciplines, and that efforts are being made to train more mathematics and science teachers to meet the demands of the country.
Professor Anamuah-Menah said one of the options suggested to open up the university system is the idea of Distance Education, which UEW is vigorously pursuing, this to him is aimed at giving chance to everyone who is qualified to attend university. He said another option is the encouragement being given to private participation in university education. He lamented that in spite of this, private participation is still low as it constitutes or absorbs only 5% of university students. He therefore said that there is the need to support these universities to expand so that they can get the chance of admitting more students.
On the issue of senior secondary school students who do not fare well in either Mathematics or English language and yet pass in the other subjects. The VC said that the University of Cape Coast and the University of Education – Winneba have come out with programs or remedial courses which take eight weeks to complete and those who pass are offered admission. He stressed that such a weakness should not prevent students from further studies.
When questioned on the motivation of lecturers and what he is doing to entice Ghanaian scholars in the diaspora to replace the aging ones. The VC said if one finds appointment at his place, the university provides accommodation, a salary which was recently increased but not to the level of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG). According to the VC this salary structure will be faced out by three years time. He also said that there are other benefits which accrue to lecturers, notably among them are an annual book allowance of $750.00, a research allowance of six million cedis. And there are other incentive packages for those who engage in research projects like Internship which the university does in league with the Kennedy Research Center in the US, involvement in the Distance Education Program and teaching at the Post Graduate level. He said lecturers are also encouraged to go for further studies and there are scholarships provided by the Government of Ghana and a Fulbright scholarship for those lecturers who are not more than 42 years of age.
Answering a question on the integration of Information Communication Technology (ICT) into teaching and learning process in Ghana, Professor J Anamuah-Mensah admitted that accessing information from the Internet is pretty expensive in Ghana, but UEW as one of the beneficiaries of a $200 million fund launched to broaden education in Africa has been able to establish a modern computer center at the university. He said currently the Center is being used to teach and organize workshops for teachers in the field who are not computer literate. He drew his inspiration from the use of mobile phones by teachers in the field who have no knowledge in the use of the computers and said that we can start from what they already know and build on that so that they can effectively use the ICT knowledge.
Earlier on Professo r Anamuah-Mensah and his entourage had attended a reception organized by the Director of The Faculty of African Studies Program at Ohio University, Dr. Steve Howard. The reception was to welcome the newly admitted students to the program at OU. Prof. Anamuah-Mensah interacted with students from the African continent both new and continuing and shared ideas with them. Summing up on the issue of brain drain, the VC suggested that what we have to do as a nation is to train more and export some. He said this should be an official policy, and to achieve this he said the state must enter into an arrangement with beneficiary nations to assist in investing in the human resource base of Ghana and also to make sure that a certain percentage of their earnings are repatriated to Ghana.
On the part of the Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Jonas Akpanglo-Nartey, he called on Ghanaians studying abroad that upon the completion of their studies they should come back to Ghana and contribute their quota to the growth of their dear nation-Mother Ghana.
FROM GEORGE KWAKU DOE (OHIO UNIVERSITY –ATHENS) -USA ([email protected])