One per cent of GDP to fund tertiary level research – Osafo-Maafo

The government has decided to increase its spending on research at the tertiary level from the current 0.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 1.0 per cent.

The move is expected to be in conformity with the request by the African Union (AU) to its member countries to increase research funding, the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has said.

He said the role of universities as centres of research, teaching and knowledge generation and transmission was not in doubt and pledged the government’s support to encourage researchers to lead the drive to fulfil the national objective of a knowledge-based economy.

Mr Osafo-Maafo was addressing the third congregation of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) in Sunyani last Saturday.

National Research Fund

He said in addition to the book and research allowance for lecturers, the government also intended to operationalise the National Research Fund to give impetus to knowledge generation in the country’s march towards development.

Some 876 students graduated from the five schools of the university — Engineering, Agriculture and Technology, Sciences, Natural Resources and Graduate Studies.

From a humble beginning of 154 students in 2012, the UENR now has a total student population of 5,051.

Science, Technology and Mathematics

The Senior Minister said the government had observed that over the years, universities and other tertiary institutions had glided away from science, technology and mathematics into the humanities and other disciplines.

He said for a country to leapfrog to effectively deal with issues of poverty, job and wealth creation, among other things, in the technologically driven global platform, it must place emphasis on science, technology and mathematics education.

Mr Osafo-Maafo, therefore, appealed to the UENR not to deviate widely from its core mandate but to stick to its nature as a science and engineering-based university to train the critical manpower required for the energy and the natural resources sectors of the country.

He tasked the university to adopt an appropriate strategy to develop programmes and courses that were tailored to make its students and products fit the needs of the business environment, saying that was the only way the UENR could lead in the job and wealth creation agenda and become a relevant institution that solved problems for Ghanaians.

Free SHS policy

On the free senior high school (SHS) policy, Mr Osafo-Maafo stated categorically: “We shall never abandon the free SHS policy because of the teething challenges impeding its implementation.”

He said the government was fully aware of the ripple effect of the policy on universities and other tertiary institutions because the gross enrolment ratio would increase by an average of 30 per cent annually.

“This is no mean a small hurdle, but with our heads, souls and hands put together on what matters most as a people with a common aspiration and destiny, we should overcome the challenges and turn them into opportunities that will drive Ghana into prosperity,” he said.

He called for support for measures such as the double-track system, the development of technical and vocational training and the massive investment drive for the expansion of infrastructure to ease congestion in the various schools and tertiary institutions.

He announced that processes leading to the construction of the five kilometres of campus roads had been completed with the award of a contract of GH¢7.9 million to Messrs Josfasm Limited.

The project is in fulfilment of a promise made by the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, at the second congregation of the university last year.

Advice to students

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC), Dr K.K. Sarpong, who also addressed the congregation, told the graduates that they needed more than formal qualification to excel in their future endeavours.

He said education should not be considered only as the acquisition of certificates and degrees but rather as a life-long process of acquiring knowledge and skills, as well as shaping one’s personal life for good.

The Vice-Chancellor of the UENR, Prof. Harrison Kwame Dapaah, called for support for the university in the development of its infrastructure, in the face of the increasing student population.

He stated that the university would need seed money of GH¢50 million and an additional GH¢10 million annually for 10 years to successfully implement its 10-year strategic plan (2016-2026), launched in April 2016.


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