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20.11.2005 General News

Ghanaians cause their own problems - Dr Obeng

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Accra, Nov. 20, GNA - Reminiscing the great efforts of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's First President, to promote sciences for development, a retired Research Scientist, Dr Letitia Obeng has shifted blame from governments to Ghanaian individuals for the nation's problems.

"We as individuals cause the problems. We, and not national governments, as institutions, have to find solutions," she said, adding, "we have to stop the women who pour filth into out gutters and drains and the men, who destroy our forests, those who sell cooked food next to filth, stinking drains and even the youths and grown ups who buy the food."

In a delivery which rather appeared poetic of the third Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Lectures, on Friday to climax the 46th Annual Founders Week Celebration Lectures of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) in Accra, Dr Obeng said addressing the mundane, down-to-earth problems, which posed overwhelming challenges to national development "falls to the conscience of each one of us (Ghanaians) as individuals and as a group.

"We have the conscience and technology to deal with issues. We have to plan, collaborate, cooperate, communicate and work together on problems," Dr Obeng said.

Dr Obeng, also former Regional Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, spoke on: "Nkrumah and the Sciences" under the celebrations' broad theme "From Stability to Growth: Challenges of National Development"

She held the audience spellbound for more than an hour, as she went down memory lane on the role of Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah in the promotion of the science before, during and after Ghana attained political independence.

Dr Obeng observed that Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah though was not trained a scientist and specialised in other disciplines, was keenly aware of the paramount importance of incorporation of the sciences in education, and considered it necessary to raise the consciousness of industrial workers through the grasp of scientific principles.

He believed it was essential to create a new type of worker to provide the backbone for the manpower needed to support national development.

"When he had the power to do so after independence, he placed emphasis on the introduction of the sciences into the education of the youth. The policy was opportune and actually, the period was right for it," Dr Obeng said.

Dr Obeng recounted number of activities including the establishment of the University of Ghana and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to foster research into science and technology and their application to solve national problems of man and animal, health, agriculture, geology, meteorology and industry.

The attainment of independence in 1957 brought an increased desire for scientific knowledge, which was preceded by increased literacy that gave birth to programs that were made available for adult education and compulsory education for children.

All education from primary to university level was made free, and by 1966, the literacy rate in Ghana was one of the highest in Africa. Dr Obeng said Government promotion of education in the sciences, which culminated in the establishment of a Medical School, and the visualisation of a National Science Museum adding that Dr Nkrumah provided motivation for science education by offering secondary school science tutors additional salary increments.

He further instructed that Universities intake should be 60 per cent for science students and 40 per cent for arts students, and further instructed that science students graduating with first-class and second-class first degrees should be automatically offered scholarships for post-graduate studies.

Dr Obeng also narrated the role Osagygefo Dr Nkrumah in the establishment of the GAAS, formerly the Academy of Learning, for which he served as first president, as well as other research institutes.

Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah was also very instrumental in the establishment of the African Academy of Sciences.

Dr Obeng noted that the efforts of the First President paid off as it prepared a viable foundation through which Ghana produced a couple of generations of high level professionals in the sciences that are working all over the world.

She, however, said "we (Ghana) have serious and disturbing down-to-earth development problems," and called for a re-visitation of the "Science City" idea, which was a centre "to hold the Research Institutions of the Academy and their high-tech scientific equipment. The idea, mooted by Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah was to provide a convenient coming together to encourage the pooling of ideas, experiences and skills and capabilities for the effective combined and co-ordinated research and implementation of essential national programmes. Dr Obeng said it was time to implement the Science City, which was designed to be a parallel of the Silicon Valley, sited close to a cooperating university in the US, and connected to about 4000 IT connected companies which have revolutionalised global information technology in an amazing way.

Dr Obeng called for the upgrading of a country-wide communication in the sciences and technology through a 'Virtual Science City", adding, "Ghanaians owed it a duty to Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah and to their country to co-operate and together apply the sciences to our basic problems to make our tomorrow better for everyone". 20 Nov 05