Rote learning not helpful — UG Vice-Chancellor
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana (UG), Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, says students must be challenged to focus on critical thinking and analytical skills since rote learning has not been helpful.
Moreover, she said, there was the need to create avenues for students to explore their creative sides, music and dance.
“We should be less focused on assessing students based on memory, and more on application. For that to happen, we need to focus on teacher training, incentivise our brightest students to go into teaching and keep small class sizes to allow for more interaction,” she stated.
Prof. Amfo said this at a new series known as the DONS CONCLAVE when she shared her prescriptions for world-class education on the Springboard, the Virtual University, during a conversation with Motivational Speaker and Executive Pastor at the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Rev. Albert Ocran.
The programme is sponsored by the Enterprise Group, MTN Pulse and UMB Bank, with media support from the Graphic Business and Multimedia Group and the Graphic Business.
Prof. Amfo, who is the first female Vice-Chancellor of UG, said lifelong learning must not be confined to the classroom or to any age in life as life was dynamic; and the day “you stop learning, you become intellectually dead and cease to be relevant to your society”.
“The two concepts driving my tenure are technology and humanism. We need to incorporate technology in our teaching and learning in small and big ways,” she said.
“I launched the Vice-Chancellor’s Programme for Classroom Modernisation and Learning Experience, One-Student; One-Laptop, and our hotspot comfort zone as part of the technology and humanity focus,” she said.
The UG Vice-Chancellor said students needed to cultivate global perspectives grounded in local context.
“That is to say they must keep in touch with what was going on across the world but engage it based on the local context of the country’s population, literacy levels, access to technologies and its (country’s) priorities”, Prof. Amfo explained.
“In my induction speech, I clearly stated that my goal as Vice-Chancellor would be to train students who are critical thinkers, technologically adept, humane, culturally sensitive and ready to provide leadership for the nation and continent,” she said.
Prof. Amfo noted that education was at the heart of national development and higher education was at the apex and that “this conversation is critical because we have to periodically examine how we deliver this all-important mandate”.
On life lessons, the professor of linguistics said if anyone wanted to make a mark in life, then there was the need to invest in one’s personal development.
“I always wanted to be a professor at the very top. It’s not your teacher, mentor, boss or parent’s responsibility. Spend time and effort developing yourself. Jesus’ private prayer life was the key to His robust public ministry,” Prof. Amfo pointed out.
“Be unfazed by obstacles. Obstacles are going to come on your journey, but be unfazed. Like me, you are bound to have setbacks and rejection, but don’t back down. Without a resilient spirit, you’re bound to give up when you’re ultimately meant for the top,” she said.
The linguistics professor and administrator said there was the need to discover and nurture talents, adding that “you can’t do everything by yourself. Be on the lookout for talent; know the wide array of skills and strengths of your team and harness them for your benefit”.
Prof. Amfo charged students to value teamwork and work harmoniously with every member of their team and endeavour to know their allies.
“Give people the opportunity to prove themselves but assign key roles to trusted people. Stakeholder engagement is really key; and you cannot succeed as a leader without it,” she advised.
“Understand the authority you have; but keep your head low because positions don’t last forever. It’s not really about you, it’s about your office. If you don’t build networks and lifelong relationships, you could be very lonely at the end of your tenure,” Prof. Amfo emphasised.
Asked how hot the seat of a V-C was, she said it was very hot, being the nation’s premier university as everyone thought they had a stake in the institution, among other things.