UDS Champions Northern Development Crusade
2011-03-04 19:26:10This article has been read 932 times.
As part of its contribution towards the development of northern Ghana, the Student's Representative Council (SRC) of the University for Development Studies (UDS), Wa Campus, has devoted this year's week celebration to a development discourse, aimed at finding strategic means of narrowing the development gap between the north and south of the country.
The President of the SRC, Mr. Justice Yaw Adua, said it behooves on development students to contribute meaningfully to the ongoing development debate in the country, with particular emphasis on the yawning development gap between the north and south.
This, according to him, motivated the SRC to devote this year's week celebration to finding pragmatic ways of addressing the development disparities between northern and southern Ghana.
Delivering the keynote address at the launch of the week celebration, which is under the theme, "Bridging The Development Gap Between Northern And Southern Ghana: The Role Of The Development Student," the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Integrated Development Studies (FIDS) of the university, Dr. Sylvester Galaa, noted that unless the current development paradigm of Ghana was changed, the dream of bridging the north-south development gap would remain a mirage.
He consequently, stressed the need to shift from the sectoral-led to spatial-led approach of development, such as the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) intervention, which seeks to address development imbalances in the country.
Dr. Galaa established that though Ghana was said to be on its way to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) objective of halving poverty by 2015, as poverty dropped from 51.7% in 1991 and 28.6% in 2006, available evidence showed that in spite of the considerable progress made, the northern belt seemed to have been largely unaffected, implying that the decline in poverty had not been equally spread geographically.
Out of the 18.2% total population that live in extreme poverty in Ghana, 53.7% live in northern Ghana, which commands only 17.2% of the total Ghanaian population, an indication that the poor in Ghana continue to be concentrated in the northern savanna ecological belt, he said. He further indicated that as at 2006, nine out of every ten persons in Upper West was poor, seven out of ten in Upper East, and five out of ten in the Northern Region.
He maintained that the north, which lies within the Savanna belt, had not received a commensurate share of the reduction in poverty, and noted that the development disparities continue to manifest in all spheres of life, such as energy and water supply, human capital development, including the areas of health and education, and investment portfolios.
Culling data from the 2009 Ghana Investment Climate Assessment report on a survey conducted of manufacturing firms with regard to private sector development, he noted that the northern rise to the worst in the country, against four out of every five, in terms of access to finance indicators, had on the average, the smallest firm in the country, has one the largest informal sectors, and skills levels lowest, relatively to the rest in the country, among others.
Dr. Galaa indicated that the establishment of the UDS in 1992 was triggered by the development gap between northern and southern Ghana, noting that northern Ghanaians realised that they were so deprived, even in human capacity building access, and as a result the UDS was one of the facilities they fought for to compensate that deprivation.
The university was mandated to blend the academic world with that of the community, in order to provide constructive interactions between the two, for the total development of northern Ghana in particular, as enshrined in the law that created the UDS, PNDCL Law 297.
To achieve this ultimate objective of meeting the development needs of the north, Dr. Galaa said the UDS adopted a new methodology of teaching practically-oriented research and field based training, aimed at contributing towards poverty reduction, in order to accelerate the development of northern Ghana.
In order to stay close to the three most deprived northern regions to improve access to human capital development, the UDS has distributed its campuses to these regions, namely Wa in the Upper West, Navrongo in Upper East, Tamale and Nyankpala campuses in the Northern Region.
He noted that UDS had been up to the challenge, and strategically positioned itself to train a breed of new development experts, by rolling out innovative programmes such as Integrated Development Studies, Medicine and Applied Sciences, Business and Education, Agriculture and Applied Science.
The Vice Dean of FIDS described the UDS Development Student as a "new breed of development animator, who is expected to serve as a catalyst for development." He was hopeful that the university would continue to churn out development experts that are action-oriented, and equipped with cross-disciplinary insights about development.
He however entreated the students and products of the university, and development workers in general, to adhere to ethical issues which sometimes antagonise development processes.
He also urged them to endeavour to respect the values and belief systems of the communities within which they work, and also ensure that the development agenda was set, taken into cognisance the communities' views.
On the role of the UDS development student in bridging the gap, Dr. Galaa said it was incumbent on the development student to endeavour to deconstruct the current development paradigm that widens the north-south development gap, advocate for a new paradigm that would be favourable to the north, engineer alternative models for northern Ghana's development, and above all, accept postings to the north to contribute towards the development of the north.
The President of the Upper West Regional House of Chief, Naa Suhuminye Danaa Gore II, who chaired the function, recalled that the colonial government, upon realising the north-south development gap, made some money available to the incoming Nkrumah administration, and that money went mainly, into education, and a lot of our men and women benefited from it, under the Northern Scholarship Scheme, but what happened to the scheme, and the money which vanished into thin air, he could not tell, expressing the worry that there had not been any accountability on how the money was used.
He noted that subsequent governments had made some attempts towards bridging the gap with interventions such as Northern Regional Rural Integrated Programme (NORRIP), Upper Region Agricultural Development Programme (URADEP), and Upper West Agricultural Development Programme (UWADEP) among others, and all had reached their end points, yet the problem persists.
He blamed the situation on the ineffectual implementation of such laudable programmes.
Naa Gore II indicated that as development students of UDS, the underdevelopment of the north must be their concern too, irrespective of where they come from, "because, we are sharing the problem with you all."
The Deputy Director in-Charge of Finance and Administration at the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council, Alhaji Alhassan Issahaku, who deputised for the Upper West Regional Minister, Alhaji Issahaku Saliah, said unlike elsewhere in Africa, both northerners and southerners agree that the northern part of this country was underdeveloped, and that both stress on the need to remedy the situation, which was a good starting point in bridging the gap.
He noted that products of the UDS were indispensable in the development process of the country, and northern Ghana in particular, explaining that their contributions in the areas of development research, policy formulation, and implementation, were very significant.
To him, "The rural practical programme has very serious relevance, and that keeps you in touch with reality," hypothesising, "the best intellectual, is the one who is in touch with reality, because the next century belongs to the people who do not only propound theories, but also ensure that their theories are relevant to the success of mankind."