Attempts by Ghanaian political leaders; including the failed ones to improve science and technology has yielded very little dividend. In recent past the understanding was for the country to be self-sufficient it has to reduce its reliance on importation of science and technology and depend on indigenous technology. The clarion call therefore was for the country to develop its own machinery to support the manufacturing industries. There was the dire need to produce simple farm implements beside the hoe; cutlass and stick to produce crops on large scales to feed the nation.
To augment these drive huge sums of money was invested in developing science and technology over the years. The great visionary Osagyefo, was a precursor in the crusade for industrialisation. He introduced schemes, which helped in training Ghanaian scientists, engineers, doctors etc. His vision led to the establishment of KNUST and the Medical School at Legon. Graduates from these and other institutions were sent abroad to acquire the necessary skills required in pushing the industrial revolution in Ghana through.
Attempts to develop the sciences and technology were carried out by promoting the science subjects in high schools and colleges. In support of this policy, Ghana Education Service (GES) created Science Resource Centres in selected schools through out the country in the 1980s. Science labs were enhanced in these schools. These labs were equipped with science instruments for experiments and project works. Also science colleges were established across the country. These colleges were to serve as fertile grounds for attracting prospective scientists and engineers.
Presec Science College, Legon was one such school. A science unit was established in this school and this attracted science students throughout the country. Admission to the science unit was competitive. A flattering environment required for studying was created for the students. When the science unit was first opened each prospective Scientist/Engineers had a cosy room to himself/herself. The rooms were comfortable and well furnished. This laudable idea turned out to be money thrown down the choked drains of Accra.
The development of science and technology also led to the establishment of some research stations and centres. It is startling to know that at a time when nuclear reactors were not common in Africa, Ghana owned a nuclear reactor at Kwabenya (Atomic) and was on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. There is also the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research at Legon, which was supposed to help in the fight against malaria and other communicable diseases. The least talk about the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) the better. The Return on Investment (ROI) on these institutions was pathetic.
With all these investment, the failed Scientist/ Engineers dashed Nkrumah’s dreams by not illuminating as expected. They now result to blame games. They blamed failed politicians for not investing in the sciences. Yes, they blame the imbeciles who ride in luxury cars and loot the nation for not passing laws to protect some illusive patent rights. Surprisingly Ghanaian scientists and Engineers perform wonders at NASA as well as other reputable organisations across the globe. The story is miserable at the home front. The mosquito is still drinking the blood of children infecting them with the malaria parasite. The ancestors were not scientists yet they contained this disease with herbs and tree barks. They invented hoes and cutlasses and farming techniques. They revealed the kente cloth and invented bobby traps for hunting antelopes and other beasts of the forest. They devised their own menu list and discovered ingredients for local dishes. They looked down, the ancestors from their graves and moaned in pain. The ancestors griped at the failure of their pathetic broods that are incapable of forging economic boom. The confused offspring import every thing including ordinary needles for making dresses. In the interim, graduates in rare science fields like Electrical, Chemical, and Mechanical Engineering prefer to work at the banks. They continue to sing the same unpleasant songs ‘there is lack of opportunities in the sciences’. Yet the untapped sun energy patched the land and withered the vegetation. They sniffed cedi notes at the counters and the ancestors moaned in pain.
The admission policies of the universities add to the economic woes. The universities are supposed to be centre of excellence and be leaders in the field of research. Yet they are graveyards churning out half-baked scholars with policies that are not student friendly. The students are not given the chance to choose courses they have the ability to pursue. Besides, the admissions policies do not reflect the development needs of the country. Ghana is a developing country and therefore requires more human resources in certain sectors of the economy than others. The limited resources should be channelled into the distress sectors of the economy. The country needs scientists and engineers with innovative minds to change the fortunes of the country; not scientists and engineers with flawed ideas.
Although the services of Philosophers, Classical Historians, failed lawyers turned politicians are needed, the chunk of the students’ population should not be forced into reading some outdated courses that yields no dividend. Some of these courses are anachronistic and contribute nothing to the development needs of the country. The foreign institutions that invented these courses discarded most of these courses decades ago. However, Ghanaian universities still hanged unto them. The ancestors turned in their graves; nothing seems to be working for their lost children.
Until Ghana, gets gifted scientists and engineers in the calibre of scientists and engineers in Europe or the USA all the development plans harped currently by these legal flops turned politicians are just waste of time. The buying and selling, a patched road here another one there would lead the country nowhere. The questions is aside of the legendary Nkrumah, is there no other political leader with the brains to anticipate that the country’s development plans are futile without scientists and engineers. Perhaps the importation of scientist and engineers should be an option worth considering since the scientists and engineers at home have infuriated the ancestors so much. They have failed to improve on the inventions of the ancestors.
Francis Kwaku Egu, UK