Crime & Punishment of Thursday, 3 April 2008
Accra, April 3, GNA - A Ghanaian Scientist, on Thursday called on the judiciary to start sentencing illegal chain-saw operators and tree fellers jail terms, such as 60 years to stem the practice. Prof. Kaku Sagary Nokoe, Acting Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies in Tamale, who made the call, argued that scientific studies had revealed that trees that illegal chain-saw operator consider as mature enough to be used as timber, were those which have reached the age of 60 and above. "Is it not therefore proper for the judges to start sentencing illegal tree fellers to 60 years in prison for felling 60 years old trees?" he asked.
He also suggested that such persons, so sentenced, should also be made to plant trees and nurture them for the whole 60-year period of their imprisonment to ensure that by the time they are out of prison they would have grown at least a tree in place of what they fell. Prof. Nokoe, made the call during the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) Inaugural Lecture. He spoke on the topic - "The Marriage of Mathematics and Biology: Life Assessment for Sustainable Development."
He called on the government to adopt the Israeli culture, where every newly born child is greeted with tree planting and the tree is nurtured and nourished as the child, saying that, "this kind of culture will make our people abide by the laws against illegal tree felling." Prof. Nokoe, who is also a Fellow of the GAAS noted that recent surveys he conducted in institutions of higher learning indicated a deplorable state of the development of mathematics in schools, for which several potential mathematicians were branching into other subject areas.
He argued that whereas biology was about life itself, mathematics was about how to protect life effectively, saying that mathematics ran through all facets of national development, be it politics, finance, health, culture and everything else.
Prof. Nokoe explained that, for instance preventing and or dealing effectively with natural disasters, accidents, conflicts, epidemics and other usually unpredictable challenges that faced human beings required mathematical thinking.
"Mathematics and Science are the solutions to the problems we usually blame on witches and wizards he said. "Indeed mathematics and mathematicians complement God's effort. They take over where God stopped in creation," he stated Prof. Nokoe said there could not be any meaningful and effective national development agenda without a strong mathematics and science base.
He said for instance that, mathematicians were needed in the police to gather data at accident scenes for the purposes of informing scientific measure to prevent further accidents instead of just using that data as prosecution evidence in court.
Prof. Nokoe said the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) also needs to be well resourced to employ mathematical thinkers to advise on proactive measures in times of disaster. "Mathematics and mathematicians provide lasting solutions to society by helping to current problems and thinking ahead of our times for tomorrow's solutions," he said.
He said every ideal scholar should have studied a mathematics based subject to make him or her a strategic and futuristic thinker, adding that every nation needed futuristic and strategic thinkers to envisage the future and plan toward it.
Prof. Nokoe therefore called on the government to set aside a special budget for the development of mathematics and also to ensure that mathematics students and lecturers at the university level were given special incentives to encourage the study of mathematics. He said there was also need to ensure that just English was used in teaching also every subject in schools, mathematics should also be made to run through all subjects in school be they social studies, cultural studies, history and all, to ensure that future leaders of the country became strategic thinkers.
"I propose that for every year the intake into schools should focus on 70 per cent of students who are offering mathematics related courses against 30 per cent of all others," he said.
Prof. Nokoe also called on the government to give rural based school full complement of facilities they need to for mathematics and science courses to ensure that more students from those areas become strategic thinkers at a very early age.
Prof. Joseph O. M. Pobee, who presided emphasised the need for mathematical data to be collected for government to employ mathematical and scientific thinking in issues of national development. He noted for instance that the Ring Road in Accra was a straight line but was called Ring Road, saying that the naming of that road lacked mathematical thinking.