President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced that government is undertaking a comprehensive programme to expand the infrastructure base of various tertiary institutions in the country, to accommodate the expected exponential rise in SHS graduates seeking tertiary education.
“The Free SHS has increased opportunities for our young people to further their education, pursue their dreams and ultimately contribute their quota to development of the country.
“Something must therefore be done about the significant number of GETFund projects that have come to a standstill, which is putting enormous pressure on facilities of our universities and other tertiary institutions,” he said at the 4th congregation of the University of Energy and Natural Recourses (UENR) in Sunyani.
The first batch of government’s flagship educational policy ‘Free SHS’ will complete in 2020, which will inevitably put pressure on tertiary institutions across the country in absorbing the higher number of prospective students seeking admission.
The Free SHS policy commenced in 2017, and will see all students in senior high schools (SHS1 to SHS 3) beginning the next academic calendar September this year being beneficiaries of the policy.
In all, about 1.2 million students, according to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, will be enrolled in high schools across the country – the highest in history.
A total of 1,113 students of the UENR were graduated in various undergraduate and post-graduate programmes.
Of the total graduates, 228 representing 20.5% were women while 885, representing 79.5%, were men.
The president commended UENR for its efforts in helping to achieve the 17 UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).
“As co-chair of group of eminent advocates for the 2030 UN SDGs, it’s a source of joy for me to learn about some of the projects being undertaken by the university to help achieve the 17 goals.
“With the world confronted with the menace of plastic waste management, it is gratifying to note that the UENR is at the forefront of developing biodegradable plastic from corn starch,” he noted.
President Akufo-Addo also applauded the university for its decision to establish a medical school for training doctors to serve the three meddle-belt regions – the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions – as well as towns and communities along the country’s western corridor.
The move he noted, will help reduce the huge doctor to patient ratio disparity estimated at 1: 8,000.
President Akufo-Addo however appealed to the specialised university not to digress from its core mandate of being a natural resources science and engineering-based university, set up specifically to train the critical human resource required for growth and development of the country’s energy and natural resources sectors.
The Vice Chancellor of UENR, Prof. Harrison Kwame Dapaah, said the university among others has been selected as one of the World Bank’s Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) in the area of energy and environmental sustainability.
He indicated that the World Bank, through the Ministry of Education is providing US$6.4million over the first five-year period (2019-2024) to fund the Centre’s activities.
“The Centre will focus on building the capacity of faculty to deliver world-class teaching and conduct state-of-the-art research in energy and environmental sustainability. It is expected that outcomes from activities conducted at the Centre will have valuable and significant impacts on ensuring energy security in Africa,” he stated.
The Business Development Innovation and Incubation Centre (BDI&IC) of the university, the VC noted, has trained 500 young entrepreneurs – sponsored by the British Council and GIZ to help create jobs, and also reduce the number of youth who undertake risky journeys seeking greener pastures.
Notwithstanding the young university’s achievements, Prof. Dapaah pointed out that UENR is faced with a plethora of challenges hindering the growth of the university to deliver on its mandate and also increase access to tertiary education.
He mentioned infrastructural challenges such as inadequate lecture hall complexes, halls of residence for students; laboratories without modern equipment and lack of a befitting administration block.