The Vice-President, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has reiterated that the government’s plan to begin implementation of its Free Senior High School (SHS) Policy in September, this year.
He said government believed that the policy could help increase enrolment in the tertiary education sector to comparable levels in other African countries.
Vice President Dr Bawumia said this on Saturday at the Second Congregation of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) in Sunyani, which saw 628 students graduating after pursuing four-year degree courses in various academic disciplines.
They comprised 299 from the School of Engineering, 110 from the School of Science and 219 from the School of Natural Resources.
Out of the number 105 received Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, 62 had BSc Renewable Engineering, BSc Mechanical Engineering; 63, BSc Computer Science; 60, BSc Statistics; 15, BSc Mathematics; 35 and BSc Natural Resources Management; 219.
Vice President Bawumia said government, however, was fully aware of the ripple effects of the Free SHS Policy on the universities and other tertiary institutions, hence it would roll up a number of initiatives to address some of those challenges that might arise during the implementation.
He said the government would, therefore, continue to invest in higher education through the provision of infrastructure, laboratory equipment, capacity development, ICT infrastructure and accommodation among other things to enable the universities to achieve their vision and fulfil their mission.
Vice President Bawumia noted with concern that over the last couple of years Ghana’s universities had drifted away from science, technology and mathematics (STM) into humanities in a ratio of 40:60.
He said that was not helpful to the cause of national development in the current era of scientific and technological progress because “for a country to leap forward in this age, it must put emphasis on STM”.
Due to that, the Vice President said the government intended to promote science, technology and innovation as espoused in its Party Manifesto for Election 2016.
He said the University had challenges, particularly financial and physical infrastructural, that were affecting its smooth operation and gave the assurance that his office, as a matter of priority, would facilitate the solution of those challenges through the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Education Trust Fund.
Professor Harrison Kwame Dapaah, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, appealed to government and other philanthropists to help the University resolve its financial difficulties.
He said, over the past three years, funds for Goods and Services had not been released by the government, which had resulted in the University owing service providers and suppliers.
Six graduands got First Class Honours while the Overall Best Graduating Student went to 21-year old Roland Kobla Tagayi who had First Class in BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and was given a citation and a cash prize of GH¢2,500.00.
The UENR, the first public-funded university in the Brong-Ahafo Region, was established by an Act of Parliament, Act 830, 2011 and was inaugurated with the matriculation of 154 foundation students on November 17, 2012.
The institution, as of May 2017, had a student population of 3,613 spread across five schools of Natural Resources, Engineering, Sciences, Agriculture and Technology and Graduate Studies.