The University for Development Studies has established the West African Centre for Sustainable Rural Transformation (WAC-SRT) at the Wa Campus to contribute towards achieving excellence in post graduate training, research and academic exchange in West Africa.
The centre followed that of the West Africa Centre of Excellence for Water, Irrigation and Sustainable Agriculture (WACWISA) which was launched by the university on its Nyankpala campus in the Northern Region, earlier this year.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye who launched the centre on Wednesday, said the WAC-SRT which evolved from the Ghanaian-German Centre for Development studies (GGCDS) was a stipend programme for postgraduate studies in West Africa that had been approved for implementation from 2017 to 2021.
“The programme which will be run by the two centres is being funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) under the African Excellence Initiative (AEI) at a cost of approximately two million euros.
The implementing partners for the project are UDS, University of Ghana, the University for Abdou Moumouni in Niamey and the Centre for Development Research and University of Bonn,” he stated.
Professor Teye explained that postgraduate training across the globe had undergone great transformation which required collaboration among the various institutions in order to provide joint programmes, supervision, research and teaching.
According to him, the universty’s partnership with the GGCDS project started with the Faculty of Planning and Land Management and subsequently was joined by the Faculty of Agribusiness and Communication Sciences.
He said the WAC-SRT had provided scholarships to a number of students within and outside the country to study at the university and had also broadened the university’s network and collaboration in research and academic exchange by drawing expertise from its partners for teaching and organising post graduate seminars at Wa.
On his part, the UDS Project Lead, Professor Emmanuel Derbile expressed gratitude for the centre, which according to him, had been lauded by the students for providing several advantages – like the establishment of a state of the art e-learning centres, among others to enhance their studies and research work.
The Centre, he said was running a maiden West African School for Sustainable Rural Transformation at Wa as a summer school for the month of June, 2019 for 39 post graduate students on issues of sustainable rural transformation by lecturers from partner universities as well as NGOs and indicated that it was one of the several opportunities that had been created by the WAC-SRT.
“The Centre is supporting two departments to develop curricular for running Ph.D programmes in Planning for Sustainable Development, Governance and Development Management.
The programmes have been passed by the faculty’s board and awaiting consideration by the graduate’s board for taking the accreditation process further,” he stated.
Prof. Derbile, therefore, appealed to the Vice Chancellor and management to speed up the processes in order to acquire accreditation for these programmes.
Launching the Centre, the Upper West Regional Minister, Dr Hafiz Bin Salih lauded the scholarship package being provided by the programme and appealed to the authorities involved to ensure that the processes for selecting beneficiaries would be rigorous and transparent so that deserving students benefit.
“I will also entreat beneficiary scholars of this project, especially those who have completed their studies, not to let it be business as usual, but to work hard and maximise the opportunities given to them under the project,” he said.
The minister stated that although rural communities were the target for interventions such as these, there was still a huge gap existing between the rural and urban centres.
It would therefore require the collective efforts of stakehokders to surmount such challenges.
“This is why the President has rolled out programmes to ensure that this gap is bridged and these include the “Planting for Food and Jobs,”One Village, One Dam, “One District, One Warehouse” and the ‘Rearing for Food and Jobs,” he added.
Dr Salih used the occasion to reassure residents that the Regional Coordinating Council was working closely with the security agencies in the region as well as those deployed to other areas, to protect the safety of citizens from religious extremists.
The programme was used to inaugurate the e-learning centre at the campus. The UDS hospital also received computers whereas deserving scholars from the programme were given certificates for excelling in their fields of study.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA