The University of Environment and Sustainable Development, (UESD) Somanya, has held its maiden Community Development Challenge awards on campus. The event was used to present prizes to deserving pupils in the Yilo and Manya-Krobo Municipalities who took part in a contest that focused on the environment. The awards ceremony took place at the University’s Multipurpose Auditorium, on the theme: “Identifying Community problems to reinforce the need for Sustainable Development.”
The Community Engagement Project and Innovations Unit (CEPIU) of the University, under the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, organized the programme, and it was attended by Senior Members of the University, including the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Eric -Nyarko-Sampson who presided over the occasion and the Registrar, Mrs Mary Abena, Agyepong.
The Community Development Challenge is a collaboration between the UESD and Basic schools in the Yilo and Manya-Krobo Municipalities, where contestants were to identify a challenging local problem and offer suggested solutions. It helps to create a wider relevant stakeholder(s) engagement to address the issue.
Explaining the concept of the programme, the Registrar, Mrs. Mary Abena Agyepong in her welcome address stated that, “there is a rising trend among institutions to reconsider the purpose of higher education and to focus on the future and address economic, environmental and social problems at the community level.”
She said, this relationship between the Universities and their immediate communities, creates opportunities for reciprocal learning through community engagements such as academic service projects, and capacity building.
Mrs. Agyepong said, the UESD partnership with basic schools like, Our Lady of Fatima School, Agormenya Methodist Primary, Ogome Anglican Basic, Vision Academy International and Carol Gray International Schools, in the Yilo and Manya Municipalities, seeks to use competitions to address the ‘biggest problems’ in reading and essay writing.
The maiden UESD Development Challenge, had twenty-five (25) pupils in Upper primary (classes 4-6), participating. Their task was to write or demonstrate five things they do not like about their communities and suggest five ways to resolve such challenges.
A representative of the Review and Selection Committee of the Development Challenge, Dr. (Mrs) Angela Kyerewaa Ayisi-Addo, said the Committee received twenty-five (25) entries for three categories: Best essay, Best craft and Best poster. The criteria used in selecting the best work included; content, relevance, originality of ideas, writing skills, grammatical errors and creativity.
A primary six (6) pupil of the Our Lady of Fatima School at Nuaso, Miss Kinney Kezia Ama Dogbeda, took the first position for the Best Craft. She received a tablet, backpack, assorted books, stationery and a plaque.
The second position went to Jochebed Lady Diamond Kaye, a class five (5) pupil of Carol Grey International School at Trom for Best Essay, while Saviour Tabiri, a primary five (5) pupil of Ogome Anglican Primary School won the third position for Best Poster. The second and third position award winners received certificates and assorted books and stationery.
All twenty-five (25) pupils who took part in the competition, received a certificate of participation.
The schools of the winners were presented with plaques and reading books donated by the Ghana Book Development Council. Our Lady of Fatima School received one hundred copies of reading books for placing first, Carol Grey International School, received sixty (60) copies of reading books for emerging second in the competition, while Ogome Anglican Primary School which came third received forty copies (40) of reading books.
One of the sponsors, Contracta Constuczioni Italia, presented one hundred (100) reading books on the environment to the participating schools. The other sponsors were: Oklepeme Nuer Anorba Sasraku II, Dr. Dr. Nene Sipim Narh Terkpertey II, Eastern Chemist Ltd, G–Unit Group of Companies, Ultimate Majesty Works, Kingdom Books and Stationery, Ghana Book Development Council, and Rite FM.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Eric Nyarko-Sampson said, the CEPIU was set up to serve as a liaison between the University and its relevant stakeholders. It has organized seminars for farmers on climate change and its impact on their activities.
He emphasized that as a university, ‘it is our wish to influence and impact communities around us, and especially, raise the next generation of environmentally responsive persons.’
Prof. Nyarko-Sampson added that, in a bid to ensure environmental sustainability, as pertains to the UESD’s core mandate, “there is the need to train the children to become the bridge to attaining this dream. It is our vision to help bring out the potential in the next generation by inculcating in their creativity and innovation, problem-solving, decision making and critical thinking skills. This is what the challenge hopes to achieve.”
The Vice-Chancellor congratulated the participating schools, particularly the award winners and urged them to study harder and persevere in all they do. He lauded the sponsors of the programme for donating generously to the success of the project and urged others to come on board in future programmes.
There were solidarity messages from the sponsors and representatives of the schools. A representative of the Ghana Education Service, (GES) in the Yilo-Krobo Municipality, Mr. Samuel Adjei, stated that the UESD Development Challenge is in line with the current curriculum of the Service, where the pupils identify challenges around them and suggest creative ways of addressing them. He said, it also helps them in their research work.