About $430 million, representing one per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), will be devoted to research and development in the short to medium term, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
Eventually, he said, the resources for research and development would be raised to 2.5 per cent of GDP in the long term.
Research and development funds would be made available for all research activities in both public and private educational and research institutions, the President said at the 20th convocation and graduation ceremony of the All Nations University (ANU) in Koforidua in the Eastern Region on Sunday.
“It will take some time, but I am convinced that eventually Ghana will reap the expected benefits of the policies that have been put in place to transform education,” he said.
In all, 617 students graduated after pursuing courses in disciplines such as Human Resource Management, Biomedical Engineering, Oil and Gas, Computer Science, Electronics and Communication Engineering, Computer Engineering, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Accounting and Allied Health and Sciences.
Apart from setting aside resources for research and development, President Nana Akufo-Addo said he had directed the Ministries of Education and Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation to draw up programmes to strengthen and scale up the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) right from the basic level as part of the educational reforms being undertaken by his government.
He said it was the aim of the government to enrol more science students in the educational system, “so as to achieve our initial target of 60 per cent science students in our technical institutions”.
Additionally, the President said, the government had drawn elaborate programmes and strategies to strengthen Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) at all levels of the educational system.
“It is my conviction that TVET is one of the main strategic policies of government aimed at the development of the Ghanaian human resource. The major objective of TVET is to prepare people for the job market, so that they can be productive and be of use to themselves, their families and society at large,” he added.
Congratulating the university on the occasion of its 20th convocation and graduation ceremony, the President said: “I come here today with a sense of pride in view of your recent achievement in launching GhanaSat-1 into space. Indeed, your achievement has put Ghana on the map of nations that are venturing into space.”
With the African Union (AU) about to set up a space agency for Africa, he revealed that he had directed the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation to express strongly Ghana’s readiness to host the agency and mobilise support towards that end.
“Clearly, I was motivated to take that decision partly as a result of your recent successful launch of GhanaSat-1,” he said.
While admitting that operating a private university in Ghana was not an easy task, President Akufo-Addo said the government had taken measures to lessen the burden on private universities.
“The abolition of the 25 per cent corporate income tax for private universities and the reduction in power tariffs for educational institutions, including private ones, are some of the measures the government has taken,” he said.
He expressed the hope that “with these reliefs, private universities will plough their profits into the development of educational infrastructure and improve teaching and learning.
For his part, the President of ANU, Reverend Samuel Donkor, urged the government to take steps to end all forms of predatory practices with the potential to undermine private university operations.
“All institutions of higher learning are of critical economic importance to nation building. Hence, to undermine the efforts of private universities is not in the best interest of the nation,” he said.
He urged the government to develop well-defined policies and set boundaries to foster fair competition and sustainability to strengthen the higher educational system.
He said the ANU, even though privately owned, made history by making Ghana a space-faring nation, to the admiration of the world.
“GhanaSat-1, which has elevated Ghana above most African nations, technologically, did not come from a public university nor a government funded institution but a private one,” he added.
“The All Nations University should be considered for a presidential charter to honour our historic feat in giving Ghana a place at the table of space-faring nations and for its pioneering role in spearheading private participation in higher education in Ghana,” Rev. Donkor said.
Ms Louis Kwashigah was adjudged the Overall Best Student, while Ms Justina Matchy was the Best Student in Accounting.
The awards for best students in Banking and Finance, Human Resource Management, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Biomedical Engineering and Computer Engineering went to Judith Onyekwere, Deborah Ama Gawu, Prudence Osegi, Miracle Ebute, Mercy Max-Harry and Aniekan Ekpe James, respectively.