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

Tue, 25 Jan 2011 Source: Arthur, Patrick Kobina

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),



Columnist: Arthur, Patrick Kobina