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Govt to set up centres of excellence for academic research

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), Professor Mohammed Salifu
Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), Professor Mohammed Salifu

The government is sourcing $120 million from the World Bank to establish centres of excellence for academic research in tertiary institutions to promote sustainable national development.

The initiative, which will be implemented over the next five years, is to begin next year and will run alongside the National Research and Innovation Fund and the Book and Research Allowance.

The Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), Professor Mohammed Salifu, who disclosed this in Accra yesterday, said the initiative was part of the Aids for Impact project meant to make research relevant to national development.

He was speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a six-member board for the Ghanaian Academic Research Network (GARNET), an umbrella body for researchers in the country.

The members of the GARNET Board are: Prof. Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, as Chairman; Dr Peter Amoah Yirenkyi, an ICT consultant at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, and Mr Jacob Tetteh Akunor, the Head of ICT at the NCTE.

The rest are Mrs Mavis Ampah Sintim-Misa, the CEO of Stinsad Consult; Mr Alex Frimpong, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Employers Association, and Mrs Joyceline Coleman, a partner-advisor at KPMG.


The centres

Prof. Salifu explained that under the Aid for Impact project, three centres of excellence would be established in each tertiary institution, as well as agricultural colleges under the Strengthening Higher Agriculture Education in Africa initiative.

“All tertiary institutions have been given the framework for applying to the fund because it is not going to be given out just like that. We expect the institutions to present competitive proposals that will demonstrate their capacity to deliver on their objectives,” he said.

He explained that the Aid for Impact project would ensure that research and the training of personnel were designed to address development needs.

The Strengthening Higher Agriculture Education in Africa initiative, he noted, was also focused on revamping facilities and infrastructure, as well as building the capacity of agricultural colleges and faculties as a means of addressing challenges along the agricultural value chain.

Prof. Salifu reiterated the fact that the book and research allowance would not be tampered with but said there was the need for a high level of accountability to sustain the fund.

Diligence

The Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, who inaugurated the GARNET Board, underscored the need for universities and research institutions to put in place the right information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure that would help them leverage on the opportunities being created by the government in the digital space.

She announced that the National Communications Authority (NCA) had resolved to pay in full the membership dues of all universities that would subscribe to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) platform to facilitate the sharing of ideas and experiences with other researchers across the world.

She urged the board to work hard to bring many more institutions and researchers onto its network to consolidate the gains that had been made.

Prof. Tagoe, for his part, said his team would work hard to link research to industry.

He noted that the expected increased enrolment in tertiary institutions following the implementation of the free senior high school (SHS) policy by the government required the strengthening of ICT infrastructure to promote online learning.