The establishment of a full Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology in the country was in the 1979-1981 government of former President Hilla Limann. A long time ago! Yet there seems to be little improvement in the country's capacity to utilise science and technology for development.
Ghana's participation in the global knowledge system depends on the development of a strong Science and Technology base. (Addae-Mensah, 2000)
It is true that knowledge in science and technology is currently the main source of achieving economic and social transformation in many countries today. To climb the "developmental" ladder and keep up with developed nations, Ghana has to elevate itself out of its present situation where science and technology is not applied in everyday thinking and actions. The youth constitute a major participant in this because they are the ones to bear the burden of re-creating a society that would ensure its survival in the coming future.
The 2000 census indicates that Ghana has a very young population with about 44% of the population below 14 years, about 60% of the population under 25 years of age and with only about 5% over 65 years of age.
Our lack of success to turn this youthful population through science and technology into skilled human resource has already begun to create serious social problems such as increasing unemployment. A desolate future will be experienced in Ghana if we do not take this seriously, and do something about it. Our young ones are definitely filled with ambition and a lot of potential, but it is only when real, active and considerable resources are applied that this potential can be set free and put to actual use.
It is great that we have schools and other institutions with laboratories and such, but really, there is more to be done. A strong youth in a science and technology driven society will most often be required to be innovative, work cooperatively, communicable and think critically. It is also necessary that they should be motivated from time to time.
It is anticipated, and would certainly help, that about 50% of the youthful population of Ghana who may become politicians, media practitioners, accountants or lawyers should have a Science and Technological background.
The youth need to be equipped with relevant Science and Technology skills and Entrepreneurship to enable them to not just enter the world of work, but also create work!
The President's Committee on the Review of Education Reform indicated that "about 30% of the labour force engaged in production, have never been to school. Only about 1.6% of the total educated workforce posses some qualification in technical and vocational education and only 5% have received training at secondary or higher level".
That should give us something to think about!
Also, in this age of information, it is expected that the youth should be scientifically literate to enable them to make informed decisions and contributions on issues related to Science and Technology to enable them to make appropriate decisions affecting their lives as well as contribute to solving problems in the country. The problem here is the introduction and impact of new technologies in the world and how the youth "keep up" with these technologies.
It is necessary that every young person should have basic working knowledge of science and technology to enable them to make intelligent decisions on problems arising in society which Science and Technology can help solve. It is anticipated, and would certainly help, that about 50% of the youthful population of Ghana who may become politicians, media practitioners, accountants or lawyers should have a science and technological background. This would enable citizens to exercise their democratic right by participating in decisions concerning the future development of the country, especially during elections, DEVOID of uneducated opinions and decisions.
The promotion of science and technology in Ghana received its greatest height and support during the Nkrumah era. Dr. Nkrumah used his power and drive to use science and technology for development just as Malaysia has done. This can be achieved again!
The role of the government now is to recreate an environment in which science and technology can thrive. It should provide a framework and funding geared towards the needs of public sector research and design and actively encourage the private sector to invest in research and design.
Government should also analyse and strongly consider a science and technology governance structure. Ghana, perhaps, should have a special aide on science and technology related issues, independent of the ministries responsible for science, having direct communication with the President. There are other countries which have dreamt, and are living a national dream being directly and strongly pursued by their governments under the direct supervision of their Presidencies.
On this note: what are Ghana's dreams and aspirations for the future? And Mr. President, what are we ACTUALLY doing about this?