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Are you just being mischievous or its sheer arrogance – Pratt to KNUST lecturer

Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper, Kwesi Pratt has strongly hit back at Senior Lecturer of the Department of Chemistry at KNUST, Dr. Richard Tia for “twisting” comments he made about the school noting that the lecturer omitted the essential elements in his statement “in a futile effort to be logical and/or consistent”.

Kwesi Pratt who was reacting to the lecturer’s response to his comments about university’s role in providing solutions to energy problems in the country questioned if Dr Tia was being either mischievous or arrogant on issues regarding what the university set up by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was meant for.

Speaking on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo show on Tuesday March 13, the veteran journalist said that Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology had not been able to even make solar panels or provide solutions to the country’s energy problems after 50 years of its establishment.

“We have a University of Science and Technology which is more than 50 years but in the entire nation, we can’t construct a battery and solar panel…This is extremely disturbing…What happened to the Science and Technology?” he stated.

But Dr. Tia in a quick rebuttal said “I am not sure I know what Mr. Kwesi Pratt wants to see to know that KNUST can make a solar cell. Is he expecting a factory on campus fabricating solar cells or he expects to see KNUST-branded solar cells in the market? I am afraid none of the two is the mandate of the university, and if I were its leader, we won’t do anything of the sort. Our job is to create the knowledge based on which the solar cell fabrication will be done, and then in partnership with investors, the patent holders set up companies to do their business”.

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The veteran journalist in a statement copied to GhanaWeb said “Dr. Richard Tia shows very clearly that his intent is to be mischievous because he deliberately twists my comments and omits essential elements in a futile effort to be logical and/or consistent”.

According to him, he didn’t lay blame on the students or academics of the institution but rather finds it regrettable that after 50 years of the university’s existence the country still imports solar panels from other countries because various governments refused to adequately provide for research at the university.

Also, Dr. Tia claimed that the way a university is set up, it is almost impossible for institutions to be the driving force of the setting up of companies so theirs is to train the students, endow them with the technical know-how and send them into the world. What happens after is the function of the business environment of the country and the continent and not necessarily on the quality of training they give them.

But Kwesi Pratt responded by saying “It is interesting that Dr. Tia admits that “(my comment) is a serious indictment of a university that was set up to, in the words of Kwame Nkrumah, lead the scientific and technological advancement of Ghana and Africa”. Given the important role that solar energy can play in the development of Ghana and Africa, isn’t it a huge pity that no matter what Dr. Tia claims the university has done, Ghana continues to import solar panels? One would have thought that the charge to promote the scientific and technological advancement of Ghana would be more meaningful if it led to the production of solar panels locally”.

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He further indicated that “Perhaps, Dr. Tia needs to be reminded that the University of Science and Technology was established with taxpayer funds extracted from people, a large majority of whom “cannot define an atom”. The fact that we may not be able to define an atom does not exclude us from commenting on the work of public universities set up to promote our collective interest. Yes, we may not be able to split or define atoms but we are entitled to express concerns about the use of knowledge of atoms to create weapons of mass destruction. This academic arrogance is clearly unacceptable”.

Kwesi Pratt however congratulated and saluted some academicians for their contribution and efforts in going against the odds to provide solutions to the nation’s problems in several ways.

“I salute many academics who have worked so hard to bring about meaningful and positive change in the lives of the Ghanaian people. These academics would include Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana who has used his expert knowledge in law to negotiate several international agreements entered into by governments of Ghana, Professor Allotey whose contribution to the development of mathematics is phenomenal, Dr. Konotey Ahorlu, one of the world’s best research scientists who has contributed significantly to an understanding of the sickle cell disease, Professor Francis Nkrumah a research scientist at the Noguchi Memorial Institute and Dr. Yao Graham, a respected activist on issues regarding mining and trade”, he added .

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