The Vice-President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has said that the government will roll out a number of initiatives to address challenges that will arise at the universities and other tertiary institutions from the implementation of the free Senior high School (SHS) policy.
He said the government would continue to invest in higher education through the provision of infrastructure, laboratory equipment, capacity development, ICT infrastructure, accommodation, among others, to enable the universities to fulfil their mandate.
Alhaji Dr Bawumia was addressing the second congregation of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) in Sunyani last Saturday.
In all, 628 students, comprising 299 from the School of Engineering, 110 from the School of Sciences and 219 from the School of Natural Resources graduated from the university.
“Despite the massive growth witnessed in the tertiary education sector since the 2000s, the gross enrolment ratio in the tertiary education sector is still low, compared with other African countries,” he said.
He said access to tertiary education in the country, as a measure of gross enrolment ratio, was about 12 per cent, which translated into the enrolment figures ranging from 280,000 to 350,000.
The Vice-President said the government’s free SHS initiative could be used to increase enrolment in the tertiary education sector comparable to levels in other African countries.
On science education, he stated that the government had observed over a couple of years that universities in the country had drifted away from Science, Technology and Mathematics into the Humanities in a ratio of 40:60, adding that “for a country to leap forward in this age, we must put emphasis on Science, Technology and Mathematics”.
Alhaji Dr Bawumia commended the UENR for demonstrating strength and growth since its establishment five years ago, in spite of the difficulties.
“I am optimistic that the UENR, as a new generation university, will chart a new path and break new grounds for the benefit of the country,” he said, and exhorted the university to stimulate research into Science and Technology to become a centre of knowledge, especially in energy, climate change and natural resources in Africa.
He noted that the government was aware of the challenges, such as inadequate classrooms, student and staff accommodation, laboratories, library facilities, IT infrastructure, staff recruitment, funding, among others, facing the UENR.
Alhaji Dr Bawumia directed the Brong Ahafo Regional Director of the Department of Urban Roads to, as a matter of urgency, place the UENR on priority projects and prepare estimates on the roads on the campus for submission to his office through the regional minister for subsequent action.
He also implored the GETFund to place the UENR on its priority list to enable the institution to address its immediate difficulties in respect of classroom and laboratory challenges to enhance teaching and learning within the shortest possible time.
Appeal for funds
The Vice-Chancellor of the UENR, Prof. Harrison Kwame Dapaah, said from the initial intake of 154 students in 2012, the current student population, inclusive of postgraduate and undergraduate students, stood at 3,613.
Those students were distributed across the five schools in the university, namely the School of Natural Resources, the School of Engineering, the School of Sciences, the School of Agriculture and Technology and the School of Graduate Studies, he said.
In the face of the challenges confronting the UENR, he appealed to the government to endow the university with a seed money of GH¢50 million, in addition to an annual allocation of GH¢10 million for the next 10 years.
That, according to him, would enable the university to meet the high cost of running a multi-campus system and also implement the 10-Year Strategic Plan (2016-2026) launched on April 8, 2016.