C.K. Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences (CK-UTAS) is located in the Kassena-Nankana Municipal of the Upper East Region. It was formerly Navrongo campus of the University for Development Studies (UDS). The university is named after Clement Kubindiwor Tedam, a prominent native of the municipality.
The Ghanaian Times had a conversation with the first Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Eric Magnus Wilmot, in his office at Navrongo last Thursday (Nov 4) excerpts of which are provided below:
Question: Prof Wilmot, congratulations on your appointment as the first VC of the university. Please, could you take us through how the university came into being?
Ans: Thank you. The quest to convert this place to an autonomous university has history. It was not just now, even during former President John Mahama’s time, there were attempts, a number of things were done, the then Wa campus was also included.
My impression was that the pressure for it came more from Wa than here. Eventually in 2019, the Act of Parliament (Act 1000) was passed, but when the act was passed, implementation did not take place till last year, around May, when the University Council was put in place and principal officers were appointed: VC, the Registrar and Director of Finance.
I was not even around at the time; I was in the US when my appointment came. We had to work remotely because of COVID-19. It was until around July, before I came and by the time I got here, it was August. So that was what happened. The then campus of UDS has changed and because UDS has put this place together as an applied science campus, I believe that is part of the reason we assumed that name.
I was not around when the decisions were taken so I could just guess. My other guess was that maybe the government was looking
at the experiment with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Remember at independence, KNUST was constructed because the thinking was that we needed the university that would train the engineers to lead our industrialisation. I think generally that experiment has proved profitable for this country. And my other thinking is that the government was using that as a basis.
If our plan is to give every region a university, it is better we don’t dismantle the structures there, but remodel something that looks like KNUST to be the engine of growth for the northern sector. So, for me, those may be the two [factors] that got us to that, but if you look at it, they have been very careful to make it in such a way that people don’t confuse it with KNUST, but essentially it is the same thing. There are sciences and technology. Those were brilliant ideas to get this to start. That is the starting point; that is why we are here today.
Ques: A new university needs the financial muscle to start with, do you have the seed capital from the government?
Ans: Interesting; the answer is no! All the new universities that came up, none of us has been given seed money. Government did well though to provide vehicles for the principal officers. But I am not sure that all the efforts are in vain; we are still talking and I know that the government will come to our aid at the right time. COVID-19 has pushed several nations, including even the mighty US, which is suffering some of these things.
Therefore, I don’t complain much. My motivation is that you give me the most difficult situation, just give me the resources to work and I will find a way of working; and we will find a way of working. I know government support will come.
Ques: You have been appointed at the most difficult time in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. How are you going around it? Has it disrupted academic work or your plans?
Ans: Yes COVID-19 has affected us but I wouldn’t say it has completely disrupted us, things would have moved faster if COVID-19 was not a factor.
Our science and maths education master’s programme had to be shifted online. The students only come here for practicals. We have finished one batch online. We even shifted some of our activities online but we are largely back to face-to-face lectures.
Ques: The university is a little over one year of existence, any landmark achievements?
ANS: We have restructured the place, we came to meet faculties of mathematics, applied sciences and earth and environmental sciences. As of now, we have restructured our programmes into 11 schools; some have taken shape, others we are still working on to get accreditation. Some programmes have been developed and sent to professional bodies to look at before accreditation.
For instance, we have the School of Nursing and Midwifery which has been looked at by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the legal
entity responsible for nursing and midwifery. If they say yes, then we can send for accreditation.
The medical school curriculum has been completed and sent to key people to look into it after which we will send it to the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service.
Computer Science was under School of Mathematical Sciences and we have given them complete autonomy. What used to be earth and environmental sciences have been reorganised and brought under different schools.
We are bringing on school of modern languages as we have a French language centre and after engaging the French Embassy, they have agreed to run the programme in such a way that Francophone countries can come and take our programmes if we have a strong language programme and change the centre into a modern language centre.
As we speak now, we have been admitted to the Association of French Universities in Africa, the only university in Ghana that is a member. They have even donated a magnetic stirrer, a machine that automatically mixes chemicals and materials to perfection.
We are going to open a School of Public Health, and the nursing programme will start with programmes in adult nursing, public health, paediatrics, and midwifery. Before now, the paediatric program had been post-basic programme but after meeting with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, they agreed to make it a basic program.
There are public health programme and the school of public health; one is to train public health nurses and the other is to train public health doctors so we are bringing that.
Of course, we are going to roll out agriculture programme next year, and we want to start it as a Centre of Integrated Irrigation and Aquaculture.
If we have farmers all around, all these irrigation companies, I don’t see why we cannot tap into that to run a programmes that will benefit them. We came to meet the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme, we will keep the centre running.
To be continued
BY SALIFU ABDUL-RAHAMAN