Kumasi, March 25, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Saturday called on the leadership of the country's universities to work together to reclaim the dignity and image of their institutions dented by recent reported acts of indiscretion and misdemeanours.
"There can be no question that the indiscretions of any one university becomes a blot on the image and record of all, both public and private", he stated, at the investiture of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, as Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.
The Asantehene goes down in history as the first person ever to occupy that position of the university that, until the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution, was the sole preserve of the Head of State. High profile personalities including Mr James Wolfensonn, former President of the World Bank, ministers of state, diplomats, academia, traditional rulers and the clergy were on hand to add colour to the ceremony.
President Kufuor gave the assurance that the government would, within the constraints of the economy, support the recovery effort of the universities to claim their place of dignity in the comity of global institutions of higher learning.
He reminded them that in order to be part of mainstream higher education, they needed to modernise the curriculum and its delivery, deploy Information Technology (IT) and give attention to research. President Kufuor appealed to chiefs to be more forth coming with their support as the government embarked on the implementation of the new educational reform.
He said he was happy that on the eve of the country's Golden Jubilee, the nation's education system was being reformed to serve current needs and to fit into globalisation, adding that, this called for active support and goodwill of all especially the community leaders. The President said it was the country's expectation that the Asantehene, whose appointment was recommended by a Search Party representing all constituent parts of the institution including staff, students and alumni, would bring his wealth of experience to bear on the direction of the institution.
President Kufuor described Otumfuo Osei Tutu's commitment to education as legendry and said he did not think that his appointment was surprising to anyone.
He made reference to the Otumfuo Education Fund set up to support needy but brilliant students that had so far accumulated three billion cedis, benefited 700 students at the tertiary level, 1,300 in second cycle schools and 450 pupils at the basic level and said it was to the Asantehene's credit that the awards had no ethnic or tribal restrictions.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu announced the setting up of an Endowment Fund for the University and a donation of one billion cedis as seed money. He noted that all was not well with the conduct and management of the country's public universities, especially in the area of sustainable funding and said there was the need to modernise, rejuvenate and re-invent the wheels.
"After 50 years, they need to be on their own. They need to be proactive and resource driven. They need to find new ways of doing business, of creating wealth and of generating a greater proportion of their resources and needs internally. They need to change the face of education funding."
The Asantehene likened the universities over-dependence on government's subvention to toddlers refusing to be weaned from the dried-up breast milk of their mothers and said it was time they underwent a rebirth, a regeneration, a re-thinking, a review of where they stood and what they believed.
"They need to challenge themselves, government and all stakeholders of what it means to provide and promote quality and purposeful higher education for higher education for national development." Nana Dr Otuo Serebuor, Chairman of the University Council, said Otumfuo had acquired national and international recognition as a repository of the Ghanaian culture and values.
He said the Chancellor had made enormous contribution to the development of education in the country and stressed that his personality and office could serve as a great asset for fund raising and resource mobilisation for the development of the university.
Nana Otuo Serebuor expressed the hope that his assumption of office as the Chancellor of the university would help to propel the development of science and technology, which were considered as the wheel to lead the nation's quest to become a middle-income country in the shortest possible time.
Professor Kwesi Andam, Vice Chancellor of the university, described KNUST as truly unique and modern university. He said the scientific and technological nature of its PhD programmes aimed at solving industrial problems and enhancing economic activities of the nation.
Prof Andam said the main reason for the brain drain in the country was low remuneration and appealed to the government to maintain the momentum it had acquired with the University Teachers Association of Ghana over the last three years and keep to the roadmap that would enhance university teachers remunerations to the level agreed upon.