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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Columnist: Alex Tackie

Transforming university education to be relevant in national dev’t

University Education in Ghana has transformed rapidly over the years, gone were the days where Tertiary Education was only available via the 3 Premier Public Universities; University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology and the University of Cape Coast. It’s not as it used to be. Today, Private universities have sprung up over various parts of the country, and though they haven't reached the peak and level of the premier public Universities, they making great efforts to produce the best of graduates for our nation.

But from a critical point of view, University Education needs more room for improvement. It is the back bone of Education generally, that's the stage where professionals, experts, researchers, inventions, critical analysis transpire. University Education should be a platform for continuation and birth of further knowledge. For example, Studying computer Science should develop one into not just becoming an I.T expert or a programmer, but to also invent and create more within that field of study, from applications to programs etc. Same if one is studying Mechanical Engineering, it shouldn't just impart one with knowledge on how machines and stuff work, been to also be also to invent and build more machinery that can solve a societal problem or need.

Sadly, is that the case in our universities today? How often do we even practice what we study in school after graduate? Are most of the courses we study in school meeting the demands of the job market, the economy? That's another matter to dissect by the way. The main point is that our university education needs to be transmogrified, from the learning process to exams to research. The key part is research, the knowledge developed over the years resulting in the syllabus and curriculum was through research and it’s important that it continues and improves. How often do our lecturers engage in research? No disrespect to our lecturers, but frankly the indefinite strike last year that sat us at home for weeks wasn’t worth it.

In The modern world we find ourselves, universities are the pinnacle when it comes to research and discoveries. Last month we got the good news that KNUST had developed a pyrolysis reactor, a Machine that converts plastic waste into bio-diesel. That’s really great news, when u go to Trade and Technology (TRATECH) Fairs yearly you find out students with great and amazing things inventions yet they not able to get the requisite support and funds to be able to improve upon the inventions they have created.

It is important that universities focus more attention to entrepreneurship, where students are developed into great thinkers who would assess their environment and be able to come up with ideas that can solve societal needs and challenges. What is the relevance of education? Do we go to school just because our mates are also going? Or we want to get a good job which would help us gain a livelihood. I believe that we engage in education in order to enhance and develop our environs. The transformation of major key parts of our economy and political system mainly rests on our university education. I was recently speaking to one young great entrepreneur Kwabena Gyan; C.E.O of Ingenuity Alliance Holdings.

This is a young man who has developed great business ideas and innovations basically using technology to solve problems. During our conversation he talked about an observation he had made that university students are mainly assessed at the end of the semester, which he mainly disagreed with, he believed the students should be assessed consistently, which would help make them sharper and great thinkers an avoid the "chew and pour " syndrome.

He also believed that access to learning material and more should be improved an enhanced. The transformation and improvement of our nation solely rests on the great thinkers we develop and push to become leaders who would take critical decisions and strategies to enable CHANGE.

Alex Tackie - KNUST