As part of preparations to enrol young females, displaced persons and persons with disability onto the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program (MCFSP) at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), a two-day’s workshop has been organised for University Service Providers on how to respond to scholars with special needs.
Professor Kofi Owusu-Daako, Principal Investigator, MCFSP at KNUST, in his welcome address, stated that the MCFSP at ASU and KNUST which aims to develop a cohort of students in a 3+1+1 International Accelerated Degree Program (IADP), has still been made possible irrespective of the outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic. Though the students could not travel to Arizona in the USA, the academic year is still in session since they have been offered internet packages and laptops to ensure smooth learning process.
Prof. Owusu-Daaku, revealed to participants of the workshop, the focus of the Phase II of MCFSP at KNUST. In his address he said, Mastercard Foundation, the sponsors of the Scholars Program at KNUST has provided specifics to the calibre of scholars to recruit which includes; persons with disabilities (PWDs), refugees and displaced persons and young female and thus, it is important to sensitised the University’s service providers to place themselves in a position to serve these expected scholars better.
The Keynote speaker for the workshop, Professor Rexford Assassie Oppong, the Dean of International Programmes Office (IPO) was of the view that MCFSP established in 2006 with the vision to ‘offer opportunity for all to learn and prosper’ is one of the best things to happen in KNUST. He underscored its focus to provide access to higher education for people who desire to be ethical and transformative leaders and are committed to giving back to their communities as timely, in an era of societal breakdowns.
According to estimates by the World Bank and World Health Organisation, about 80% of one billion persons living with some form of disability live in developing countries with limited access to social services, health, education, and employment. It is in light of this that the University is extremely enthused about the sensitisation workshop geared towards taking a critical look at the University’s readiness to enrol these special groups and the support systems that can be put in place.
Professor Assassie-Oppong on behalf of the Management assured the MCFSP of the University’s unflinching support to train and produce scholars especially scholars with special needs to value learning, commit to improving their communities as problem solvers and role models.
The former Vice-Chancellor of KNUST and the Chairman of the Executive Advisory Board of MCFSP at KNUST, Professor William Otoo Ellis on the brief overview of the Phase II of the Scholars Program at KNUST disclosed that, the mandate of MCFSP at KNUST is to train 1500 transformational and ethical scholars from 2019 to 2029. He explained that 70% of 1500 to be enrolled would be brilliant but financially challenged young females and 30% males; 25% displaced youth and 10% being persons living with a disability. “At the end of the Phase II of the Program, the 1500 scholars to be recruited would be 80% Ghanaians and 20% students from other African countries,” he added.
The objectives of the Phase II of the Scholars Program at KNUST, he said, are to train ethical and transformative leaders who would serve as catalysts for enterprise development with an emphasis on young females and the underserved, develop a program which makes positive impact on the youth in the scholars’ communities, create employment opportunities and strengthen community engagement programs. The key initiatives are the Industrial Mentorship Initiative (IMI), Community Engagement Mentorship Program (CEMP) and Career Development Centre (CDC).
Prof. Otoo Ellis took the participants through what is expected of them to meet the set goals and standards and hoped that the service providers will work together to deepen the outputs of the Scholars Program at KNUST and also move the operations of the University to the next level in terms of provision of service to the underserved and the issues of graduate transitions.
Mr. Isaac Owusu of the Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies (CEDRES), KNUST, enlightened participants on how to create a conducive environment for persons with disability. He highlighted on understanding disability and attitudinal change and disability etiquette in his presentation.
Mr. Alexander Tetteh of Centre of Employment for Persons with disability educated participants of the workshop on how to treat persons with disability. He bemoaned how some facilities on campus have been disability unfriendly and urged management and various stakeholders within the University to help solve such challenge.
The University Service Providers that participated in the workshop included representatives from; Office of the Dean of Students, KNUST Counselling Centre, University Chaplaincy, Academic Affairs, University Hospital, University Security Services, University Transport, Student Accommodation Providers and the University Development Office.