The Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, has hailed the World Bank Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) in Ghana for achieving their set targets.
The ACE Project seeks to address regional development challenges, as well as facilitating the delivery of high quality training and applied research, that meet the skills demand of the regional labour market.
The ACE Centres in Ghana include the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) and the West Africa for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens all at the University of Ghana and the Regional Water and Environmental Sanitation Centre (RWESC) at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Prof Opoku-Agyemang said the three ACE Projects in Ghana, have a strong regional participation in terms of enrolment and have partnered with language and study centres of the host universities to incorporate language immersion programmes, which run concurrently with academic and research schedules of the centres.
Prof Opoku-Agyemang gave the commendation in her keynote address at the opening of the Eighth ACE Project Steering Committee Meeting and the fifth workshop in Accra.
The three-day meeting is being attended by 200 participants from all the 22 ACEs from West and Central Africa.
The ACE Project which is being financed by the World Bank through the facilitation of the Association of African Universities (AAU), is to promote regional specialisation among participating universities in areas that address specific and common regional development challenges, such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health and agriculture.
The bank is making available 150 million dollars for the project, with each selected centre entitled to a maximum of eight million dollars.
On the status of the Project in terms of objectives achieved, the Minister said, most of the centres report impressive performance in sourcing for external funding in the form of acquired competitive grants.
She said the Centres have instituted processes to develop and implement sustainability plans, adding that “consultancy services, is very key in their income generation plans”.
She said the ACE Project is having a strong research focus with substantial increase in research publications from the Centres.
“Aside the regional partnerships, the Centres have also established partnerships with other Ghanaian institutions as well and these partnerships were on student training and research collaboration,” she stated.
“For now the ACE projects in Ghana are successfully running with most of them having achieved about 75 per cent of proposed Disbursement Linked Results,” the Minister added.
Prof Etienne Ehile, the Secretary General of the AAU, said improving the quality of African higher education and research lies at the heart of the organisational mandate of the AAU and receives priority attention in the Strategic Plan and Core Programme of the Association.
“The AAU believes that sound, strategic investments in higher education and research in Africa will pay off in the form of strong academic institutions and their societal engagement.
“Such investments have many benefits, including contributing to the development of countries’ intellectual resources, competent workforces, visionary leaders, gender equality and respect for basic human rights,” he said.