The U.S. Embassy in Accra and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) have formally launched the U.S. State Department Bureau of African Affairs’ University Partnerships Initiative (UPI) at an in-person and virtual launch ceremony on the KNUST campus on Wednesday October 14, 2020.
The event was presided over by Professor Rita Akosua Dickson, Vice-Chancellor of KNUST. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Tibor Nagy, attended the event virtually from Washington, DC, and delivered remarks. U.S. Embassy officials attended the event at KNUST and virtually from Accra to support the UPI launch, which seeks to strengthen existing ties and foster new collaboration between U.S. and African universities through faculty and student exchanges, joint research, administrative capacity-building and public-private partnerships.
Representatives from the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC) and Iowa State University (ISU) also participated in the virtual launch, with each institution providing an overview of the projects they are undertaking at KNUST.
TIEC, in collaboration with the KNUST Business School, is implementing ‘Flexible Learning: Responding and Reimagining Education in Ghana’. In response to the urgent need for virtual education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TIEC staff have assembled higher education professionals from several universities in Texas to train 30 administrators and faculty to produce quality online and flexible learning.
Participants will go on to train other faculty and administrators within KNUST and throughout Ghana.
ISU is partnering with the KNUST College of Engineering to implement ‘Institutional Capacity Building through Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Collaboration’. ISU and KNUST faculty and students will partner with the Ullo Traditional Area in the Upper West Region to collaborate on small-scale community development.
These projects will promote research-driven solutions to address food security, potable water security, sustainable agriculture, and improved economic opportunity. This ‘learning by doing’ approach will bolster the students’ real-world problem-solving abilities and globalise the undergraduate engineering curriculum at both universities.
In her welcome remarks, Professor Dickson noted that the TIEC-KNUST project “propels us in our pursuit of building the needed capacity for the establishment of a more resilient and robust e-learning system that ensures seamless academic work all year round, and also offers us the opportunity to transfer knowledge so less-privileged individuals can access in-person learning experiences from our university”. The Vice-Chancellor also endorsed the ISU-KNUST project, saying it “will strengthen our institutional capacity toward achieving our mission, as it will position KNUST in an era when academia-community engagement for the socio-economic development of our less-privileged communities is paramount”.
Assistant Secretary Nagy applauded the inaugural UPI collaborations in Ghana, stating that: “These projects exemplify core principles in American higher education leadership: excellence and innovation in delivery of online education (now of paramount importance as schools rely largely on virtual learning); and hands-on practical education that when put into action improves lives.”
Through the UPI, the U.S. Embassy will continue to expand existing links and promote new partnerships at the university level, which will strengthen Ghana’s educational institutions as instruments of national development – enhancing the United States and Ghana’s shared goals of regional prosperity, security and stability.