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Opinions of Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Columnist: Arthur, Patrick Kobina

Pretending to be scientists: why the low level of science in Ghana?

After a long and careful observation, I now know the exact and the
fundamental reasons why the level of science in Ghana is so low compared to
countries which were at the standard of Ghana at time of independence. The
effort made by Dr Kwame Nkrumah to install the institutions needed to pursue
science and apply it to the development of this country has not made much of
an impact. This is largely due to the fact that trained Ghanaian scientist
who have worked in Ghana have not been genuinely committed to the pursuit of
science and science research in this country. Developed countries achieved
their improved quality of life largely by the use of science and technology
and it is often said that Africa's development gap is a technology gap. It
is surprising to see that over the past 50 years no real effort has been
made to bring the benefits of science and technology to the development
process, it always about economic management and IMF and World Bank and
Donors and ... How can't anyone get it that until someone in this country
decides to make the pursuit of science and technology the centre piece of
our development program, we are not getting anywhere, poverty will continue
to rise?

The current mediocre situation

Albert Einstein said : We cannot
solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. For
the sake of social justice and for the avoidance of knowingly committing a
crime against humanity, the current leadership of this country need as
a matter of urgency, install a critical intervention to obviate an obvious
future tragedy. A tour through all institution of higher learning in this
country will show you the sorry state of laboratories where training is
supposed to be conducted. There is hardly any functioning pieces of
equipment there for the gifted students of today to use for their training.
Laboratory supplies are never adequate and yet university student are made
to pay academic facility user fees which are supposed to supplement
government subvention. While it is easy to blame everything on the
government, it is obvious that Ghanaian scientists do not have elemental
commitment to science like it exist elsewhere in the world. Leadership of
science institutions and department fail to inspire up and coming scientist
rise to a world class status but rather restrained them to operate within
the mediocre standards that is contributing more and more to ignorance
and poverty.
The few science based and science-driven companies operating in Ghana thrive
only by wholesale importation of technology and products into the country.

The critical intervention

The risk of causing human resource loss to this country in now eminent, what
has been lost is not that bad but now and the future we cannot afford such a
loss. As population of the world grows there will be increasing competition
for resources and the only way to make sure that these insufficient amounts
do go around is the unleashing of the power technology. And each
country would have to deploy its own technology using its own very well
trained human resource. This why I am screaming for the leadership of this
country to do the youth of today a big favor and not allow the system
of science education that is only programming the youth for an obvious
future defeat to continue to exist. There is the need to ignite a rapid
overhaul of the current system by first establishing science and engineering
resource centers in all secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

These centers should be manned by Ghanaian scientists in the Diaspora,
who should be engaged on a contract that allows them to spend one month a
year in Ghana to run clinics for students of science and engineering. Such
clinics should be done outside of the current curricula and the outside the
current education management across the country. It should be run as
a special initiative that is designed to offset the intellectual and skills
bankruptcy of the current educational system. Making use of Ghanaian
scientist in the Diaspora will ensure that the youth of today get the
opportunity equivalent to their counterparts in the advance countries.

Creating Institutions of excellence in science and technology of future

The financial resources needed to create institutions of science and
technology in Ghana exist currently, the problem is that it is being
misapplied. Estimates of the academic facility user fees that have been paid
since year 1998 or so will add up to huge sums of money but I daresay that
state of facilities not reflect that monies collected to date. How can our
education management act in a manner that hurt the prospects of future
generation? We do not need any extraordinary arrangement to kick start the
creation of such institution, we just need leaders who have empathy and love
for country to be in positions of management to begin the process of
applying the current resources correctly. And the enlist the involvement of
Ghanaian scientist in the Diaspora to turn the current situation around. If
Ghanaian scientist will possess and demonstrate clear, elemental and strong
commitment to science and research, this alone can cause us to realize the
dream of a first class science centers in Ghana. The political leadership
of this country need to wake up and see the bad leadership they are
providing and sit up. We need leaders who understand the element of our
being and not focus solely on economic and financial management as the only
way of developing a country, that is actually the least and the easiest of
our problems.

Patrick Kobina Arthur (PhD),