THE 60th New Year School of the Institute of Adult Education (IAE), University of Ghana, Legon, has opened, with the quest to use life-long learning as the most crucial factor for accelerated national development in the country.
This year’s school is being organised on the theme, “Life-long Learning for Accelerated National Development”.
Despite the fact that the formal opening took place at a time of tense anticipation of the announcement of a President-elect for the country, the enthusiasm characteristic of participants was evident.
In a keynote address to formally open the school, a Professor and South African Research Chair in Development Education of the University of South Africa, Pretoria, Prof Catherine A. Odora Hoppers, proposed a new way by which Africa could become politically and innately free to take on the challenge of leadership in shaping the future of humanity.
She said for Africa to attain its rightful position globally, what mattered most was “the way we think about issues”, and “not so much the hype around a knowledge-based economy or information society and some mad rush into it”.
Prof Hoppers said central to her proposition was the realisation by all that knowledge primarily rested in people, rather than in ICT, databases or services.
She said through the centuries, populations like those found in Africa and elsewhere and their way of life and their environment had been decimated and treated as irrelevant in the normal scheme of things.
“One of the consequences of colonialism and apartheid for the knowledge debate was the fundamental erasure that was effected over the rich knowledge heritage of non-Western People,” she said.
She added that the cultural and intellectual contributions of non-Western knowledge systems had been systematically erased through a strategy of “conquest by naturalisation”, based on assumptions of the uselessness of some seeds and medicinal plants in Africa through World Trade Organisation (WTO) protocols.
To redress all that, Prof Hoppers called for the rethinking of future knowledge, innovation, social justice and human urgency within a new conception of a knowledge-based economy and information society.
For instance, she challenged the notion that literacy was just about reading and writing.
Welcoming participants, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof C. N. B. Tagoe, described the New Year School as a “source of pride to the university, providing the platform for solutions for the country and a barometer for gauging public opinion for the promotion of good governance”.
He said through the New Year School, the university had kept faith with the nation in fulfilling one of its main objectives of knowledge dissemination through extension activities.
He encouraged participants to continually learn, as the current times called for that.
The Director of the IAE, Prof Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi, said with the concept of life-long learning gaining prominence, and in line with the UG’s Corporate Strategic Plan, it had been proposed to change the name of the institute to the “Institute of Continuing and Distance Education”.
The change of name, he added, would also raise the profile of the UG’s distance education programmes which were currently benefiting from major grants and loans from the Republic of China to the tune of $8.2 million.
On new academic programmes, he said a bachelor’s degree in Adult Education had been approved to be offered in the first semester of the 2009/2010 academic year, while an MA in HIV/AIDS Management had been proposed for consideration by the university’s Academic Board.
DAILY GRAPHIC, SATURDAY, JANUARY 10, 2009