Unlike his fortunate peers whose parents financed their education from the basic level to university, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye, the newly appointed Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University for Development Studies (UDS) did not have that kind of privilege as he had to finance his entire education through farming.
Prof Teye, who was the third child out of eight children, had all his other siblings going to school but he being the eldest son of his mother, had to always accompany his father to the farm.
Apart from not getting support to educate himself, he had to also break an old tradition of the Krobo people that maintained that the first son was not supposed to go to school but help the father in his farming activities and inherit him after his demise and become the head of the family.
Bunch of plantain
"So all my siblings, including the two elder sisters I came after, were in school until one Sunday, I decided to also enrol in school. I had to cut a bunch of plantain behind our house to sell on a market day to buy my school uniform to start Class One and I was the oldest boy then in the class at the Abertiso Roman Catholic Primary School, now in the Fanteakwa District in 1969.”
He then proceeded to the Kwaopeniase Presby Primary School in the Upper Manya-Krobo district from 1970 to 1975 for his Primary Two to Primary Six. He had his Middle School education at the Korwhere Roman Catholic Middle School, also in the Upper Manya district, from 1975 to 1979.
Prof. Teye did not look back after that and relied on farming till he completed his Bachelor's Degree at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology ( KNUST) where he obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree (BSc) in Agriculture and an MSc in Meat Science in 1991 and 1996, respectively.
The VC of UDS never rested on his oars as he won a Commonwealth scholarship to study at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom (UK), where he obtained a PhD in Meat Science and Technology in 2005.
Prof. Teye, who had a childhood dream of becoming a petro-chemical engineer, had to divert to Agriculture Science in Sixth Form and upon advice from his supervisor and lecturer at the KNUST, Prof. Peter Gyawu, he pursued his Master's degree in Meat Science at the same university and that was how he became a meat scientist.
Prof. Teye, who was born in January 1964 and had his secondary education at the Manya Krobo and Kpando Secondary schools from 1979 to 1986 for his GCE 'O' level and GCE ‘A’ level, respectively, did not have it easy as his father was reluctant to sponsor his secondary education.
At the secondary school level, Prof. Teye still had to farm tomatoes with the support of his mother to finance his education.
Due to his academic prowess , Prof. Teye was among five students offered government scholarship to pursue their secondary education at Manya Krobo Secondary School after he obtained a distinction at the Middle School Leaving Certificate examination.
"I could not afford the boarding fees so I was a day student for the first term in Form One. I was in class one day when the headmaster sent for me and told me I was among five students who had been selected to benefit from a government scholarship for needy, brilliant students and as part of the requirement, I had to be in the boarding house.
"Since I was not prepared for that and had nobody to support me, I went to the boarding house without a mattress. From Form One to Form Three, I had to cut cartons and put them on the spring bed and fold a blanket on them to sleep on until I had enough money from the sale of my farm produce to buy a mattress."
Prof. Teye attended Kpando Secondary School for his Sixth Form education. He studied Physics, Chemistry and Agriculture Science there.
" I remember when I completed Sixth Form, I had to sell my textbooks to enable me raise money to pay for my lorry fare from Kpando to Odumase Krobo. When I gained admission to KNUST, I still had to rely on my farming activities to raise money to transport myself to Kumasi. I continued to rely on farming as the only source of income to help me complete my first degree at the university.”
After his Master’s degree, Prof Teye worked for a while at the Meat Unit of KNUST before getting an appointment to teach at the Bonwire Senior High School (SHS) in the Ashanti Region where he was instrumental in the establishment of a science department at the school.
The turning point
The turning point in Prof Teye's life was when he saw an advert in the Daily Graphic requesting for lecturers and senior lecturers at the UDS. He applied and was appointed a lecturer in 1996.
He has since been with UDS and became the head of the Animal Science Department from 2005 to 2008. He was Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture from 2008 to 2012 and became the Pro-Vice-Chancellor from 2012 until he was appointed the Vice Chancellor on October 1, 2015.
Some of the associations Prof. Teye belongs to include the Ghana Animal Science Association and the Ghana Society of Animal Production. He is also a member of the Alumni of Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and the Ghana Medical and Dental Council where he has been representing vice chancellors since 2012.
Prof. Teye is a reviewer of the Ghana Journal of Animal Science; Journal of Food, Animal and Food Research; African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development and the Ghana Journal of Agricultural Science.
He is also an external assessor for KNUST, University of Cape Coast, University of Education, Winneba and the University of Ghana, as well as an external examiner for KNUST Graduate School.
The VC of the UDS has over 120 scientific publications to his credit.
Philosophy about life
According to Prof. Teye, he abhors cheating and urges students to eschew all forms of malpractices during examinations.
" I advise the youth to learn the virtues of patience, hard work and humility and take advice from superiors. These are the virtues that have made me what I am today."
He praised Prof. Gyawu whom he described as his mentor from student days at KNUST and whom he met again at the UDS where Prof. Gyawu was head of the Animal Science Department. Prof Teye took over from Prof. Gyawu when he retired.
Prof. Teye was born and baptised as a Catholic and is currently involved in several church activities . He has been chairman of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Our Lady of Annunciation Catholic Cathedral, Tamale since 2007 as well as the chairman of the Laity Council for the Tamale Archdiocese of the Catholic Church since 2011.
Prof. Teye is married to Mrs Selina Agoku Teye and they have three children: Patience, Winifred and Isaac.