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Speech Delivered by the President on the 7th Graduation Ceremony


Rev. Emmanuel Kingsley K. Larbi

The Chancellor of Regent University College;

The Chairman and Members of the Regent University Council;

Honourable Okudjeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Education

The Representative of the Vice Chancellor, KNUST (Prof. Samuel Nii Odai);

The Representative of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba;

The Vice President of Trinity Theological Seminary (Rev. Professor Joseph Manasseh Edusa-Eyison), representing the President of the Seminary

Heads, Representatives, and friends of other sister institutions here present;

Honourable Ministers of State and Members of Parliament;

Nananom, Nimei ke Naa mei;

Members of the Diplomatic Corps;

The Clergy;

Members of Convocation,

Hard-working faculty and staff;

Honourable members of the Regent-Ghana Students' Parliament here present;

Graduands, friends and families of graduands here present; students here present;

Members of the Press

Distinguished Invited Guests

Ladies and gentlemen:

 

PREAMBLE

We are delighted to have all of you here today! Thank you very much for being part of today’s important event.  As we have gathered in this facility today, there are many of our friends around the globe who are watching this event with us, live, through our webcast or online streaming.  We welcome all of you!

 

PURPOSE OF GATHERING

We have gathered here today to confer various degrees upon some determined students who by all standards have distinguished themselves in various fields of study, and in character.  We have gathered here to recognize the efforts of such people.

Mr Chairman, as required by our University Statutes, as President of this institution, at this gathering, I am also required to present a report to Congregation, accounting for our stewardship since our last Congregation.

For the sake of time, and in line with the communication technology dynamics of our present world, we have uploaded the full Report on our website.  We will therefore encourage all stakeholders and interested parties to find time to read it.  For the purpose of this gathering, I will highlight some few items which appear in the Report.

 

SYNOPSIS OF REPORT

GOALS IN PURSUIT OF OUR VISION AND MISSION

Mr Chairman, our vision of becoming a fully chartered, world class University within the shortest possible time, remains constant and focused. To this end, we have continued to double our efforts in three main areas during the year under review. 

  1. The construction of our purpose-built, Accra main campus, located at the McCarthy Hill;
  2. The recruitment of highly qualified academic staff under full time, adjunct and visiting professorship arrangement;
  3. Building of academic partnerships and linkages to increase our capacity.

Main Campus Construction

On the construction of the main campus, we are glad to state that the construction of the Academic Block, which is the biggest of the seven main blocks, started last week.  The contract for the Multi-purpose Block and the remoulding of the existing block was also awarded this week.  We are convinced that, by God’s grace, the construction of the hostel block, the Multi-purpose Auditorium block, the Sports hall, the main Library block, and the Administration block, will all commence, to the glory of God, before the end of the year.  We are convinced that the first phase of this new campus will be ready for our occupation by the end of this calendar year.

During our second graduation ceremony in 2009, we made an appeal to the current President of the Republic of Ghana, who was vice president then, and our Guest of Honour of that important event, to facilitate the construction of a pedestrian footbridge to span from the Mendskrom part of the Malam Kasoa road, to the McCarthy Hill part of the road.  This footbridge will be very critical for the safe movement of people from Mendskrom side of the road not only to our institution, but also that of Jayee University College.  We expect to be able to meet him soon to renew the appeal.  We are also convinced that the staff of the Ga South Municipal authorities here present, will play a leading role in the construction of this major footbridge. 

 

ACADEMIC STAFF

In line with our passion to ensure quality, we have continued to work hard to consistently maintain a very favourable students-staff ratio in all our programmes.  We have thus continued our efforts to consistently recruit world-class academics and professionals, to beef up our team.

During the year under review, Professor Adefemi Sunmonu, the Director of the Centre for the Study of Mathematics, City University of New York,   York College, USA, joined our team for two semesters.  He has recently set up a similar Centre for the Study of Mathematics at our institution.  Last year he was recongnised by Regent as the Most Productive and Resourceful Visiting Professor of the year.

Professor Satyendra, the Director of Centre for Emerging Markets, and Professor of Marketing and International Business at the University of Winnipeg, Canada, who is also the Editor-in-chief of International Journal of Business and Emerging Markets, visited our institution for the second time. He taught and held workshops and seminars during this period at Regent.

The immediate past Auditor General of the Republic of Ghana, Dr Edward Agyeman Dua, also joined the staff of Regent during the year under review.  Other similar high profile appointments took place during the year.   

 

STAFF RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

During the year under review, the University College conducted a major research project in the Akuapem North District of the Eastern Region.  The research was to determine the presence of ICT infrastructure and usage for teaching and learning among Junior and Senior High schools in the District.  The research was led by Mr Ronald Addoquaye and directed by the President of the University. 

The study focused on: the availability and state of computer labs, internet accessibility and electricity supply to the schools, ICT teacher qualification and the percentage pass in ICT in the 2013 Basic Education Certificate Examination.  In all, a hundred and ten (110) Junior High and Senior High schools were visited in the District.  The research revealed that out of all the ICT instructors interviewed, 72 have not had any extra training in the field.  The survey also revealed that 55 of the schools surveyed do not have a computer lab and teachers struggled to teach computer related subjects without the students having the benefit of real computers.  Another interesting revelation was that due to lack of ICT infrastructure and personnel, 29 schools in the district did not take part in the ICT examination in the 2013 national examination. 

Interest in this research was kindled after the university had helped to provide an ICT infrastructure for three Junior High Schools in the Eastern Region free of charge.  It then dawned on us to do an empirical research in select areas of our country, focusing on the Eastern Region.  We expect that in the near future, we will be given the opportunity to place our expertise at the disposal of the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education to solve some of the problems identified. This is obviously the beginning of a major work, which should attract the attention of those in charge of our educational policies and those in charge of the disbursing of the national. Though the work has just begun, in the interim, what appears clear is that although we hear of the distribution of laptops to some  schools and individuals in this  country, it is very clear that we are yet to seriously deal with the real challenges facing most of our schools.   

Mr Chairman, in the course of the year, some staff members performed creditably in their research and publications.  The most outstanding among them are Dr. Franklin Glozah, Mr Oppong Asante and Dr Stanley Moffat.  Messrs Akrofi and Osborne have also made consistent efforts to publish at least an article a year.  We congratulate these able scholars for their continued effort in research.

 

ACADEMIC PROGRAMMES AND STUDENTS INFORMATION

Currently the University College offers 13 undergraduate programmes and 4 postgraduate programmes. Plans are underway to start degree programmes in Mechanical Engineering, Petro-chemical engineering, Architecture, and Nursing, among others, when we move to our main campus. 

The year under review had a total undergraduate student population of 2,124. For 2013/2014 academic year 487 fresh undergraduate students were admitted. Out of this 56% are Ghanaians and 44% are foreigners.

Today we are graduating 442.  This is made up of: 147 from SIET; 274 from SBL; and 21 from FAS.  Details can be found in the President’s Report.

We will also be formally presenting 13 students from our prestigious MBA programme which we are jointly running with the Maastricht School of Management (the Netherlands).  Unfortunately, one of these precious MBA graduates, Ms Rosemond Nyampong, a former employee of Stanbic Bank, was brutally murdered last year.  Her relative is here to collect her certificate.  May her soul rest in peace.

During the year under review, 42 students in our MSc Statistics programme completed their programme and have since collected certificates.      

Among the graduating students are 8 students in our Bachelor of Theology with Management programme.  These students will be certificated after an aspect of their programme has been validated by Trinity Theological Seminary.  

I also need to mention that, among the 442 graduands gallantly arrayed before us, are 19 students who pursued our Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Psychology programme.  These gallant students have met all the necessary academic requirements as prescribed by this University.  They have also been found worthy in character as far as we know.  The validating institution for this particular programme is University of Education, Winneba.  They are yet to complete the formalities required by that institution, for the issuance of the relevant degree to the respective students.  Honours for the Human Development and Psychology students as stated in the graduation brochure are therefore tentative, according to scholastic average computed as at 28th March, 2014, when the Academic Board of Regent met and at the time of going to press.  Final honours will be determined after the meeting of the Academic Board of the said University of Education, Winneba, which was scheduled for April 9, 2014, Ano Domino.         

 

NEW AFFILIATION AGREEMENT

Recent discussions with Saint Mary’s University, Canada, has reached a stage  where we are ready to sign an MOU, which will lead to: Academic exchange programmes for both students and faculty, Joint academic programmes and credit transfer, Research collaboration, among others.  It is hoped that this arrangement will bring additional benefits, particularly to students and faculty of the two institutions.

 

COMMUNITY WORK

Apart from our research conducted among the Akuapem North high schools, which I mentioned earlier, this year, we concentrated our efforts mainly on the Adimadim Kyenku Larbi District Assembly JHS.  This school is located in a remote rural community near Suhum in the Ayensu Ano District of the Eastern Region.  So far our interventions have led to continuous improvement in the academic performance of the students of this school. We are glad to indicate that all the 14 students who sat for the BECE last year, registered 100% pass.   Unfortunately, only four parents managed to find money to send their children to Senior High School.  One student was sent to the Northern Region for obvious reasons. Since the parents of the remaining 9 students could not raise funds these students had to stay at home!  Under these unfortunate circumstances, we saw the need to intervene to financially support these indigent families.  We arranged for four of these students to be enrolled at Ofori Panin Secondary School, Kukurantumi, and another four at Suhum Presbyterian Secondary School, with their first term’s fees and related expenses fully paid by us. Thanks be to God!  Unfortunately, before our intervention, one of the nine children, a girl, had already been sent out by her mother to work as a domestic assistant as she could not afford to educate her beyond the JHS level. 

Another student from the same village who had enrolled at Suhum High School a year before, and had paid only part of the first term’s fee, and was at home because his grandmother who was taking care of him, could not find money to settle the outstanding fees from the first term, and also raise money to cover the second term’s fee.  In this particular case also, we had to intervene in order to create a future for this innocent young man who had lost his mother, and did not have a responsible father to take care of him, thus, was depending upon his maternal grandmother.   In the same Kyenku Larbi District Assembly Junior High School, we are still providing accommodation for two government teachers. Last year, when we realised that there was sufficient government paid teachers in the School, we withdrew a teacher that we had been sent there to complement the efforts of teachers there.  Since then, opinion leaders from the village have persistently requested that we send another teacher, preferably the one that we have withdrawn.  They felt the teachers that we had sent there in the past were more disciplined and capable.  Interestingly, the headmaster of the school is of the same opinion!  Under present circumstances, we have been compelled to reluctantly accede to their request.  So our Michael Ansere, who had served on our behalf in the school over the years, will be returning to the school again, next month, to continue his good work.      

     

NATIONAL ISSUES

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: We are participating in today’s event precisely because most of us here, if not all, believe that in today’s world, education is the key to the progress and prosperity of individuals, communities, and nations.   As J. F. Kennedy, former president of the United States of America, once said “Our progress as a nation, can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.” This is the reason why when it comes to matters affecting our education in our country, we should handle them objectively, devoid of partisan political considerations. As a nation, we should be prepared, and indeed willing to sacrifice our last pesewa to educate the last soul, because education is our future, and our future is education!  Quality education for that matter.  As Malcom X once said: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

Democracy in Ghana and indeed democracy in Africa as a whole, will assume true meaning only when we are sure that those who participate in the electoral process, really understand the issues that affect our present and our future.  The leaders we vote for must be people who can take us to our economic promised land. We will therefore agree with Franklin D. Roosevelt when he said “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy therefore is education.”

We will therefore agree with Barack Obama, when he said “We have an obligation and a responsibility to be investing in our students and our schools.  We must make sure that people who have the grades, the desire and the will, but not the money, can still get the best education possible.”  He could not have put it better.

 

GRADUANDS

Now Granduands, Ayekoo!!! You have a world to win! You can make a difference and you dare not fail! You have in your hand, the power to create the kind of life you want o live, and also help create the kind of world, and a kind of nation you want to see.  Our continent and our nation for that matter, is in urgent need of selfless, dedicated, visionary, result-driven, God-fearing ethical leaders.  The need is urgent, and cry is desperate.  Our resources have not always been honestly, fairly, and equitably distributed.  Those employed to manage our state institutions, and our collective resources, have not always been at their best.  YOU MUST BE DIFFERENT! Go as an ambassador with a mission and a mandate. Go and change your world. May the good Lord give you the grace to do that.

 

CONCLUSION

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Barack Obama, once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek” And I will say the time for change is now.  All of us are called to be leaders, no matter our status, old and young, men and women, rich and poor.  All of us have an inbuilt, God given capacity, to be responsible, to rule, to be productive and to take charge. We have the capacity to take the people that we have been given the opportunity to lead, from where they are to where they ought to be! Go, and Change your world.