University of Ghana asked to look into future with new ways of thinking

During 75th anniversary launch

Mrs Elsie Addo Awadzi – 2nd Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana

Last week August 31, 2022 the University of Ghana at a 75-minute solemn event launched the 75th anniversary of the country’s first institution of higher learning.

The University which has over its existence produced more than 400,000 alumni has been called upon to look into the future with new ways of thinking.

Speaking at the launch, the Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Elsie Awadzi, an alumnus of the University said as the institution prepares to start a year of celebrations to mark its 75th anniversary, it is imperative that it looks into the future with new ways of thinking and pursuing its vision and goals.

“The pursuit of “world-class” excellence should be a moving target, and as times change, that vision should be calibrated to deliver outcomes that keep this great institution relevant,” she said.

Mrs Awadzi said she believes that the year-long celebration in 2023 under the theme “Nurturing Resilience: Adopting Technology, Embracing Humanism” will provide the right setting to take stock, learn lessons, and look forward to the next 75 years.

She noted that over the past 75 years, the University of Ghana has built a strong reputation as an academic institution of excellence, making it one of the preferred choices for academics, researchers, and students in Africa and beyond.

The University, she said, has also made substantial contributions to the human resource needs of Ghana, shaping the minds that have built the country’s state institutions, communities, businesses, and the political, economic, social, and cultural systems that have underpinned its fortunes as a people.

“The hallmarks of this great university are its strong tradition of academic excellence, integrity (true to its motto, Integri Procedamus, which as we know, means progress with integrity), its warm and picturesque Legon campus which has over the decades maintained its charm, and its vast network of academics, researchers, distinguished alumni, and many more.

I commend successive administrations of this noble university and the tireless efforts of faculty and staff over the decades for their foresight and dedication towards the success of this university. I also applaud government for its support of this university over the years both financially and otherwise,” she said.

Mrs Awadzi among other things indicated that the pandemic taught the University the benefit of resilience, preparation, and adaptability.

“Resilient organisations anticipate change, prepare for change by making adequate investments in systems that will help to deal with such changes, and adapt effectively to change.

Going forward, what could be the possible changes that need to be prepared for to help minimise disruptions to teaching and learning that pose a risk to achieving world class excellence? Global trends of geo-political tensions, climate change, energy security issues, infectious diseases, cyber-attacks give us a sneak-peek into what the next decade or more could hold for the world,” she said.

She said in Africa and here in Ghana, economic vulnerabilities in part caused by colonial economic policies and structures, climate risk, food security, governance, exclusion, youth unemployment, among others, all hold clues for possible future challenges if the right strategies are not adopted and implemented towards more positive outcomes.

She noted that education must respond to the realities of a fast-changing world powered by cutting-edge technologies that are disrupting industries and traditional ways of doing things, and at the same time presenting opportunities for leapfrogging developmental challenges.

She stated that while technology is a key enabler of resilience, it will not take the instituion to the promised land by itself. Other key pieces of the puzzle must be in place and at the right times.

“First, we must carefully consider the course offerings and other enrichment activities available to students. Which courses will we need to teach our students over the next 75 years as we prepare them for a more complex world? Which skills (technical and soft) are relevant to equip them with tools to solve the nation’s and the world’s critical challenges? How can we equip them with true leadership, entrepreneurship, and communication skills that give them a competitive edge? How can we promote innovative and entrepreneurial problem-solving approaches to learning instead of rote learning which only produce fixed mental modes incapable to solving our challenges?

Secondly, we must modernise how we teach relevant subjects. What technological facilities can we deploy to teach them more effectively? How can we take advantage of technological advancements to provide relevant skills for students? How can we attract the best experts and practitioners from home and abroad to help with cutting-edge research and teaching in innovative ways?”

“Thirdly, we need a strong ethical and moral foundation for the university, one that instils in students a sense of personal responsibility to advance the public interest and the common good. We need a new generation of students that live and operate by an Honour Code who will grow to lead with integrity and selflessness for the benefit of our nation and our world. A renewed emphasis on ethics and civic education is needed, going forward.

Fourthly, we need to promote a stronger sense of community though active engagement and inclusion of all key stakeholder groups in shaping the future of our university. Strong alumni engagement should be key, just as strong collaboration between the University and industry.

Last, but not least, we must proactively explore opportunities for funding the investments on a sustainable basis, that are needed to deliver desired outcomes for the next 75 years. Everyone has a role to play here, and we must all join forces to ensure that our university is able to provide educational facilities and experiences for students that shape them into world leaders. While donations and endowments through partnerships will go a long way and should be pursued, innovative approaches for generating sufficient income for the university and its various cost centres will be key to sustain continuous improvement in the UG experience.”

“I believe that as we celebrate over the next year, clear strategies to achieve the above will be helpful to promote a stronger and more impactful university,” she said.

In an attendance were the Chancellor, University Council Chairperson, former Vice-Chancellors, alumni, students and members of the general public.

The 75th Anniversary logo was unveiled at the event.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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