The College of Science (CoS), KNUST held its 4th College Retreat at the Rock City Hotel, Nkwatia in the Eastern Region of Ghana from 17th – 24th October 2021 under the theme: Human Capital Development and Quality Education: College of Science’s Contributions towards the SDGs. Participants, drawn from Senior Members of all Departments within the College arrived on 17th October 2021.
The first business day of the retreat started with a prayer by Rev. Prof. William Obeng-Denteh, who thanked the Lord for travelling mercy and also ushered the period of the retreat unto the Lord.
The Registrar of the College, Mr. Kwame Yeboah jr., in his opening remarks, stated that, the purpose of the retreat was to develop capacity building of members of Faculty by reflecting on the things that have been done over the past years, come out with a refreshed and revived plan for the years ahead. In this wise, he said, the College will be well placed towards fulfilling the Sustaining Development Goals (SDGs).
The State of the College address was delivered by the Provost, Professor Leonard K. Amekudzi, where he presented on the gains made over the past two years and his immediate vision for the college. Some of the gains made so far include a substantial increase in the recruitment of new staff in the various Departments, which has now reflected in the reduction of lecturer to student ratio (LSR) from 1:50 when he took over to 1:46 at present. The number of Postgraduate students has also increased from 5% of the total student ratio to 8% in 2021 culminating in the reduction of undergraduate students from 95% to 92%. He further reported that the College has 50 ongoing grants and have 22 proposals submitted to the OGR. The Provost also reported that there has been a significant increase in the number of staff being promoted, especially to the rank of Associate Professor. All this, he said, was as a result of deliberate strategies put in place by the College Management Board (CMB). He further reported that the College as part of its plans to promote science and mathematics learning has also instituted the Junior Maths and Science Quiz with students from Junior High Schools of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly and Oforikrom Municipality participating. Plans to expand participation to cover the Ashanti Region and hopefully, the whole country is being worked on.
On his immediate vision for the College, underscored the need to promote gender parity, raising funds and improve on teaching through the increased use of ICT in online teaching and the provision of microphones for all lecturers. He listed some areas that need immediate actions. This includes:
- The establishment of a multidisciplinary research institute and a centre of excellence for climate and environment. He reported that a committee chaired by Prof. Phillip Antwi-Agyei has submitted their report for consideration by the College Board.
- Attracting international talents and nurturing early career staff, internal and external research collaborations should be pursued by all and findings published in credible journals.
- Upgrading research laboratories through the acquisition of modern equipment. Thus, procurement of common equipment and reagents by departments is encouraged.
- Adopting a community for each department to promote community-impact based research and development.
- Strengthening partnerships with external partners do contribute to the progression and development and currently, some students have benefitted and had exchanges into Germany, France and Italy.
- Achieving gender parity through expansion in female Postgraduate STEM research and recruitment of more female technical and academic staff.
- Incorporation of other activities of benefits through prudent management and mobilization of funds and resources.
- Strengthening the annual medical screening for all CoS staff.
After robust discussions, during the open forum section of the day’s programme, the following observations and recommendations were made:
The participants observed that:
- Most Departments within the College are under-staffed
- The amount of GHS30,000.00 given by KReF is inadequate
- New staff members have challenges with office space and orientation
- There is currently no college-managed canteen for staff.
- A laboratory management system is needed for all teaching laboratories
- Discipline within the student body is on the ascendancy.
- There is the need for provision of kitchenettes and tea rooms for staff.
- The need for technical instructors.
- Provision of accessibility tools for physically challenged students.
- Motivation and incentives for Teaching Assistants.
- Arrangements for students with disabilities in the college and need to identify them.
- Office space allocation for Faculty examinations officers is woefully inadequate.
- There is the need for a laboratory management system needed.
The participants also made the following recommendations:
- Training on teaching pedagogy should be organized for newly recruited staff.
- The need for a common purchase of equipment by Departments
- Departments should take enhanced steps to adopt a community evident in the submission of community impact proposals to grant funders.
- Continue to encourage gender parity towards achieving SDG 5.
The following presentations were made by resource persons as assigned:
Dr. Emmanuel Ahene, Department of Computer Science – Cyber Security and awareness: He urged staff to be aware of the various types and modes of compromising our systems. He gave some tips to prevent our devices from getting compromised.
Mrs Bernice S. O. Peasah, College Counsellor – Emotional Intelligence: She apprised with ways to build on their emotional intelligence.
Prof. F.C. Mills-Robertson, Department of Biochemistry – Food Safety: His presentation covered some of the causes of Foodborne diseases and methods to keeping food safe.
Mrs. F. O. Mensah – Listen to your body: She encouraged members to take good care of their bodies. This should contribute to the reduction of contracting non-communicable diseases.
Some of the challenges raised by staff and responded to by the Presenters were:
- Securing personal devices when on a public network.
- Development of an app to help monitor health status.
- Contamination of food with contaminated water.
- Identifying and assisting students with mental health challenges.
Moderators for Day 1 were Prof. (Mrs.) Faustina Dufie Wireko-Manu and Dr. Lawrence Borquaye.
Day 2 of the retreat began with a prayer by Rev. Prof. Obeng-Denteh at 8:53am. The moderators of the day were Dr. Linda Aurelia Ofori and Dr. S. O. Kwarteng. Dr. Ofori led members through the programme for the day.
Prof. Bright Kwakye- Awuah gave a recap of the 1st day through the rapporteur’s report. Following that, and according to the programme outline for the day, members split into their various Departments for their discussions on the work being done to achieve the SDGs and future plans. It was evident in the reports from the Departments that, the college is working to achieve the SDGs and strategizing to improve on collaboration to impact more.
Rev. Prof. William Obeng-Denteh presented on mentorship. He explained the mentorship policy of the University and its importance. Mentors and mentees were encouraged to build good relationship. The closing prayer was said by Rev. Prof. Obeng-Denteh.
After having their lunch, members participated in an excursion to the Abetifi Stone Age Park and the Ramseyer Presbyterian Church in Abetifi.
Day 3 of the retreat began with a prayer by Dr. (Mrs.) Gloria M. Ankar-Brewoo. The Moderator of the Day, Drs Mercy Badu and Kofi Boampong. Dr. Badu led members through the programme for the day. Dr. Cyril D. Boateng gave a recap of the 2nd day through the rapporteur’s report.
Presentation for the 3rd day included:
Prof. R.C. Abaidoo and Prof. Phillip Antwi-Agyei, Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology – Research Collaborations: They reiterated the essence and importance of collaborations and ways to develop research collaborations and networks.
Prof. (Mrs.) A. Adebanji, Department of Mathematics – Preparation of Promotion Document: The presentation covered the requirements for promotion and the importance of preparation and review of documents by others.
Prof. Akwasi Acheampong, Department of Chemistry – Welfare Packages: Conditions of Service. The presentation captured critical issues of the welfare packages available to the staff.
Dr. Jacob K. Agbenorhevi, Department of Food Science – Visibility: The presentation encouraged departments to improve their visibility through their websites and social media handles. This contributes to enhancing collaboration, recognition, and networks.
Prof. Osei Akoto, Department of Chemistry – Postgraduate Scholarship: He updated members on the development of a policy document. Members should contact committee members to make inputs into the document.
Some of the issues that came out of during the open forum include:
- Members should involve the University in grant applications.
- The cost of publications in good journals was high, and the University should consider ways to deal with that.
- The College Liberian should be contacted and involved in the preparation of promotion documents.
- Members should visit the welfare office for information on loans and other issues.
- Members should study and utilize the current promotion document and participate in subsequent reviews.
- Members debated on the application of sitting allowances to support postgraduate scholarships. The provost, after listening to both sides of the debate ruled the Committee on Postgraduate scholarships should be given 6 weeks to present their report and thereafter, a decision will be taken.
CLOSING REMARKS BY PROVOST
The Provost, Prof. L. K. Amekudzi commended the Organising Committee for a great job done. Communique will be presented to the University Management and also serve as a reference document for HoDs in setting targets. Mrs. Peasah gave the closing prayer. Session closed at 1:41pm.
VICE CHANCELLOR’S CLOSING MESSAGE
The Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo who represented the Vice-Chancellor touched on key aspects of the programme. He said, the College of Science should see herself as a major stakeholder and has to play integral role towards the attainment of the SDGs. He reiterated the need to have industrially-driven research activities and programmes, saying, that the Vice-Chancellor’s vision of One – Department One – Start-up business agenda should be embraced by all. He reported that the Vice-Chancellor has approved a substantial increase in funds allotted to the KNUST Research Fund (KREF), with further increase in subsequent years. This, he said is aimed at achieving the overall goal of industry-driven research. Professor Owusu-Dabo indicated management’s resolve not to deny any hardworking staff of his/her promotion irrespective of age or gender. He said management is keen on ensuring that this is done to the letter. He commended the College Management Board (CMB), led by the Provost, Professor Leonard Amekudzi and the College Seminar and Conference Committee (CSC) for a well-organized and patronized retreat. The participants appreciated the CMB with a standing ovation.
FOOTBALL MATCH AND LIVE BAND
The much-awaited football match between the Faculty of Physical and Computational Sciences (FPCS) and the Faculty of Biosciences (FB) came off in the afternoon. At the end of the day the scoreline was FB 2 – 1 FPCS but not without drama. The day was climaxed with a live band by the Rock City live band.