THE Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) will celebrate its 60 years of existence in November 2010.
By Act 80, 1961, the Parliament of the First Republic gave the green light for the then College of Technology to be transformed into a university.
60 years in the life of a university would naturally come with successes and challenges but suffice it to say that KNUST has walked the journey with tenacity of purpose.
The Chancellor of the University, Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, echoed the strides KNUST has made over the years when at the 44th Congregation ceremony at the Great Hall recently he stated, “We are proud, as a university, to have trail-blazed Ghana’s science and technology development this far”.
“60 years offers us the opportunity to showcase our achievements and tell our success story as the leader and premier institution of higher learning for science and technology education and training,” the Asantehene said.
Today, KNUST is ranked the best in the country and 12th in Africa, justifying the level at which it has gone in achieving its mandate.
At the congregation, the Asantehene called for an end to the over-reliance on the government for the funding of higher education in the country.
He noted that the “heavy dependency syndrome” was unsustainable as evident in the ever-dwindling government subventions to the institutions.
“ As a nation, we must vigorously continue with the pursuit for politically feasible strategies and mechanisms for the sustainable funding of higher education”.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu noted that education had become expensive the world over and this called for involvement of all stakeholders to get things going.
He appealed to the alumni, parents, organisations and well-wishers to go to the aid of the university to enable it survive the turbulent times.
“We invite you to establish academic chairs in our colleges. We welcome you to provide support and grants for applied and innovative research and development activities,” he added.
He also called for a review of the collegiate system at KNUST after six years of operation to establish the success so far made and to enable the authorities meet the changing trends of higher and international education of the 21st Century.
Otumfuo paid tribute to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Kwafo Adarkwa, who would be exiting in August this year after serving his term for a job well done, and welcomed the incoming VC, Prof W.O. Ellis, pledging his unflinching support to him.
In his address, Prof. Adarkwa announced that the first commercial laboratory for aflatoxins analysis in the country has been established at the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology at KNUST.
It is intended to address one of the major food safety concerns in the food sector (aflatoxins) in the production and processing of maize, coconut and peanut, as well as the oil industry and industries that use these products as inputs for their operations.
Aflatoxin is a food contaminant, which is a potent carcinogen to both animals and humans and thus, requires constant monitoring within the food marketing cycle for certain agricultural commodities.
Prof. Adarkwa said the laboratory was established with the support of the Trade and Investment Programme for Competitive Export Economy (TIPCEE), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),
He also mentioned that under the Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund (TALIF), KNUST was benefiting with the implementation of 43 projects at the cost of $4.4 million out of which 81 per cent had been disbursed to the university for various projects.
The VC disclosed that this year, the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology produced a PhD graduate whose research focused on the upgrading of the nutritional value of cocoa pod husk for use in animal feed, using biotechnological techniques.
While expressing the hope that the poultry industry would pick up the technology, Prof. Adarkwa invited entrepreneurs to collaborate with the university to commercialise it through a joint company.
He expressed excitement at the growing numbers of postgraduate programmes at the university, which now stands at 3,904.
Meanwhile, two projects financed at the cost of GH¢7.5 million by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), and internally generated funds of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) have been inaugurated at the university.
Each of the projects, which started about four years ago, included administration blocks and lecture halls for the College of Science and the School of Business.
At the inaugural ceremony, Prof. K.K. Adarkwa, said the projects would go a long way to address major accommodation problems facing the university.
He commended GETFund for supporting the university to address some of the accommodation challenges of the university.
The Akyempimhene of Asante, Oheneba Adusei Poku, said it had become increasingly clear that the government alone could not meet the educational needs of the nation.
It was, therefore, important for the private sector to come in to support to ensure that the nation continued to make significant strides in education.