Universities must lead development agenda – Prof Gordon

Accra- African universities have been charged to design programmes capable of producing critical thinkers and innovators to manage the continent’s natural resources for development.

Professor Chris Gordon, a former Director of the Institute of Environment and Sanitation Studies, University of Ghana who charged the universities said over the years, African tertiary institutions, failed to produce graduates with problem solving skills needed to effect the change required to drive development across the continent.

He therefore urged the universities to ‘chat a new path’ of training and developing the continent’s human resource that would be capable of effectively managing, efficiently utilising the natural resources.

Prof Gordon made the call at the third Lecture of the late Professor Alex Adum Kwapong Series tagged Nature Speaks in Accra.

The lecture, which was chaired by Mr Charles B. Josob, the Namibian High Commissioner to Ghana, was on the theme: Innovation, Transition and Disruption in Natural Resource Management: The role of the African University.

He said we must build new breed of human resources, who would be able to tackle emerging developmental and environmental issues, to drive development beyond the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) year target, 2030.

Our graduates are not flexible, because we do not train them to think widely, think outside the box and this is also because most of the things forced on Ghanaians and Africans at large and taught by African universities do not have our cultural aspects.

The African University must create nature based, holistic and sustainable solutions to emerging developmental and environmental issues, develop African led solutions to encompass the intersection of technology, environment, and governance rooted in the socio-cultural setting and that would make these acceptable to African countries, he said.

Prof Gordon urged the universities to develop high quality faculty that was committed to research, develop key employment skills for students through provision of co-curricular activities and opportunities, among others.

African universities must be drivers of development by promoting science, technology and innovation, understand how to change behaviours and invest in human development with emphasis on women and youth as well as vulnerable people, he explained.

He also urged African Governments to make adequate funds available to all universities to enable them to develop programmes, conduct research and deliver on their mandate.

Mr Senyo Hosi, the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, who was a discussant at the lecture also urged students to have a renewed mindset as well as attitudes to enable them to the competitive demands of the world.

He also expressed the need for tertiary institutions and industries to collaborate to develop programmes and graduates with the requisite employable skills for the job market to reduce unemployment and facilitate growth and development.

Africa is looking at 100 million youth joining the work force unemployed between now and 2030 and Ghana has a big share because unemployment is our biggest challenge, but how can you have such a situation when you actually sit on a 30 per cent of the world’s remaining natural resources?, he quizzed.

The lecture organised by the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) and the University of Ghana, was in honour of Professor Kwapong, first Ghanaian Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana and first Vice-Rector of the UNU.

It also sought to serve as a platform for interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder exchanges of views, knowledge and ideas and to raise awareness on natural resource management, and promote an understanding of the importance of evidence-based information and decision-making.

The lecture had in attendance dignitaries of the Diplomatic Corps, Researchers, Academia, industrial players and students, among others.

Source: Ghana News Agency