Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, has held the 2021 Virtual Special Congregation ceremony to graduate undergraduate, and postgraduate students who completed their respective courses of study. In all, four thousand, four hundred and seventy-two (4,472) students consisting of eight hundred and fourteen (814) undergraduate and 3,658 postgraduate students graduated. In terms of gender, the University graduated One Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty-Three (1563) females representing 34.95%. Ninety-one (91) of the postgraduate students received Ph.D. degrees with twenty-eight (28) of them being females. This is an improvement over last year’s figure of 5 females.
The Chancellor of (KNUST), His Royal Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II in his address called on the Government to extend a hand to the University in the upgrade of its ICT infrastructure. He noted that the University on its own has initiated steps to improve upon its ICT infrastructure. However, the sudden switch to online activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic means investing heavily in the ICT infrastructure to adequately support academic and administrative work. This has brought in its wake a challenge with funding, he mentioned.
The Asantehene also pointed out that data charges continue to be high in the era of online learning. He revealed that students would require a lot of data in accessing the various online classes and appealed to TELCOS to reduce data charges for students and work at improving the network quality especially in areas that have high concentration of students to enable them fully to participate in the online-learning system.
His Royal Majesty commended the Vice-Chancellor and her Management Team launching the ‘Support One Needy Student with One Laptop (‘SONSOL’) Project’. To the benefactors, he appreciated them supporting this good cause. He, however, appealed to other stakeholders to come to the aid of these underprivileged students, who are the nation’s hope for tomorrow.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson in her address announced that in the world’s search for vaccines and cure for the coronavirus pandemic, the University’s Covid-19 Clinical Trial Team KNC19 has received approval for an herbal preparation, Cryptolepis Sanguinolenta, for a Phase II Clinical Trial on Covid-19 patients. Again, the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR) has gained recognition as the second largest laboratory that has so far provided over 128,000 COVID-19 tests for 13 out of 16 regions in Ghana to guide the public health response in Ghana. KCCR also conducts COVID-19 tests for football teams requiring clearance certificates to participate in sports as well as travellers.
Professor (Mrs) Dickson stated that through the constructive efforts of KNUST and its dedicated partners, Obuasi Campus has introduced undergraduate programmes in nursing, midwifery, medical laboratory, and electrical and electronic engineering programmes for the 2020/2021 academic year. Also, the University has been able to develop an additional 6 lecture theatres, extended internet connectivity to parts of the campus for effective online teaching and learning and enrolment has also increased from 343 to over 1000. Considering this, she solicited more support from the Government to continue the expansion of facilities at the Campus to facilitate teaching and learning.
Regarding ICT Infrastructure, the Vice Chancellor revealed that so far, Gh¢1,871,877.57 has been spent on audio-visual equipment to enable synchronous and asynchronous learning interactivity. Also, the University, through the Ghanaian Academic and Research Network (GARNET) and the West and Central Africa Research and Education Network (WACREN) have also purchased premium zoom accounts for academic staff to help in teaching and improve user browsing experience and connectivity to the virtual classroom. The University has also increased its bandwidth capacity and continues to work on enhancing our internet services due to the high student numbers, she added. Again, to ensure that academic work can continue even from the homes of faculty members, the University, through its Telecom partners, is facilitating a fibre optic internet connectivity project to provide faster internet connection at a cheaper rate for members of the University community.
In terms of grants for various research works, the Vice Chancellor revealed that Prof. Ellis Owusu-Dabo, the Pro Vice-Chancellor has won One million, two hundred and ten thousand, four hundred and three euros (€1,210,403.00) from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership Association (EDCTP2) to work on “Paediatric Phase I/II age de-escalation dose-finding study of a vaccine against invasive non-typhoidal salmonella infections in Sub-Saharan Africa (PEDVAC-iNTS)”. Also, Professor Francis Kemausuor of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering has received One hundred and ninety-eight thousand, three hundred and seventy-eight dollars ($198,378.00) from USAID – Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER), for study into, “Agri Voltic Technology in Drylands of West Africa: Strengthening National Innovation Systems for Diffusion and Market Development at the Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Prof. Sampson Antwi from the Department of Child Health won One hundred and thirty-two thousand, seven hundred and forty-nine dollars ($132,749.00) from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to work on, “Paediatric HIV Disclosure Benefits Study (Ph.D. – BS) – Sankofa 2”.
Professor (Mrs) Dickson expressed much gratitude to Ghana National Gas Company, Japan Motors Trading Company Limited, the North America Chapter of the KNUST Alumni-Association, Anglogold Ashanti, JOSPONG Group, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation for their financial support in diverse ways.
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