This was one of the views expressed at the 62nd Annual New Year School organized on Monday by the Institute of Continuing and Distance Education (ICDE) of the University of Ghana (UG), Legon, in Accra.
Dr Elsie Effah-Kaufmann, Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering of UG, said Ghana could become an industrial giant by harnessing the socio-economic potential of science and technology for development but for the challenges beleaguering the country in the sector.
She observed that ‘compartmentalization of knowledge,’ a study habit which she described as ‘chew, pour, pass and forget,’ was the bane of innovative, critical thinking and the application of scientific and technological principles to solve problems.
Dr Effah-Kaufmann said scientific literacy, open-mindedness, creativity and interest in the national agenda were critical if Ghana would be able to compete with the rest of the world.
Referring to a recent International Educational scores on scientific literacy conducted for students in the eighth graders in some countries, she said students from Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Hungary, England, and Czech Republic scored high.
Dr Effah-Kaufmann said, “No wonder such countries are industrial giants in the world. They have taken the application of science and mathematics seriously.”
She appealed to science and mathematics teachers, in particular, to help their students to understand and apply the scientific concepts to solve problems.
“Provide students with the opportunity for self-learning and teach them that information should be research-based.”
Dr. Effah-Kaufmann noted that science and mathematic teachers needed to be trained to orient their mind-set on rote learning to enable the instructors to help students apply abstract concepts to day-to-day activities.
Dr Godfred Frempong, Principal Scientist at the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute, called for a national Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) policy for the youth to empower them.
He said youth empowerment involved well-resourced national programmes, pragmatic ICT training programmes targeted at youth outside educational institutions, development of local content, creation of employment avenues as well as massive deployment and innovative pricing for ICT services.
Professor Kwesi Yankah, Pro-Vice Chancellor, UG, expressed dissatisfaction that there was low science enrolment in educational institutions.
He said Ghana needed to strengthen the study of science and technology if the country, together with the rest of Africa, were to effectively compete with the developed world.
The ongoing Annual New Year School has the theme: “Harnessing the Power of the Youth for Accelerated Development.”
The School is a residential programme organised by ICDE of the University of Ghana, which draws people from all walks of life together to deliberate on vital issues of national and international concern.
The five-day school would seek effective strategies that would enhance opportunities for skills development through lifelong learning and further discuss strategies for job creation in agriculture to make it more attractive for the youth.