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Let’s increase investments in science to prevent more pandemics – Prof Turok to Africa


  11 Août      15        Science (487),

   

Accra, Aug. 11, GNA- Professor Neil Turok, Founder of African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), urging African government to invest more Science, has cautioned that there will be more pandemics and destruction to Agriculture if Science is not fully utilised.

“We need to get representatives of African communities into Science because they understand the problems and they are part of the communities that are worst affected by these global problems,” he stated.

“When they get into Science, they will do so in the interest of their communities and help protect them and the world at large.”

Prof Turok said this in Accra at a memorial public lecture in honour of the late Ghanaian Mathematician and nuclear physicist, Prof Francis Allotey, who died at 85, in November 2017.

The Professor observed that the world was in a worse state, saying that the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of Agriculture not being managed properly, resulting in the spread of the disease from wildlife to humans.

The lecture was organised by AIMS on the theme: “Developing Versatile and Innovative STEM Leaders for Africa’s Scientific Excellence and Socio-Economic Development.”

He observed that the developed world was focused on using Science to make more money and not saving the world and charged Africa to use Science to change the narrative.

“…If you take young people from a very poor community and teach them Science, the first thing they would love to do is use it to help their communities.”

The Professor said when African scientists got involved in epidemiology and researched into how to save lives, they would become very impactful in their communities and dedicate most of their lives to save and advance their people.

He called on African Governments to invest in scientific research to develop a pool of expertise to address the continent’s problems.

Prof Turok said Africans must, therefore, play a crucial role in addressing the challenges affecting the continent, including disease, hunger and poverty to achieve sustainable economic growth.

He said the Science space was dominated by the expatriates, stressing that there were no Africans leading in science and winning Nobel prizes over decades due to repression.

« For so many years people from the continent have been excluded from Science and that is why governments in the continent must support more children to get into Science to change the narrative,” he said.

“So, my great hope is that when young Africans enter Science in vast numbers, they will be able to change the way Science is done because Science needs to change. It is an immensely powerful tool, which can either be used for good or evil.

“Many countries are using it to make weapons, nuclear bombs, man-made diseases and many others,” he said.

“We need morality and caring people to enter Science and change the way it is done, and I believe the way to do that is when people from disadvantaged communities come into Science, then there is a new chance to change the way it is done,” he added.

Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, Minister of Education, in a speech read on his behalf, said: “Prof Allotey was and is still an asset and a treasure not to Ghana but to Africa and the entire world.

“His contributions to Science globally were enormous, and there is a need to honour him and ensure his legacy never fades.”

He said the institution of the Francis Allotey Public Lecture was timely, particularly as the focus of President Akufo – Addo was on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education.

“Our goal is not only to provide free SHS (Senior High Schools) but also to develop our human capital base in STEM.

“We are committed to supporting the activities of AIMS Ghana and other research institutions. We believe that AIMS can help bridge the gap in Mathematics education, where the subject is seen by many as the most challenging course,” he said.

Dr Prince K. Osei, President of AIMS Ghana, said the Institute was established as a pan-African network of centres to deliver excellent teaching, research and education in mathematical sciences.

Founded in 2003, he said AIMS currently has six centres across Africa- South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and Rwanda and has so far graduated 500 students from 27 African countries.

The Institute in 2018 won the UNESCO Category II Centre of Excellence and third centre of excellence in the AIMS-NEI ecosystem.

Dr Osei said the Institute planned to influence STEM education from the basic to PhD level and create an online course work for Junior High Schools and Senior High Schools.

Professor Ampenyin Francis Allotey was the first African to be accepted to Princeton’s Mathematics Department and the first Ghanian to earn a doctorate degree in Mathematical sciences. At Princeton, Allotey was advised by Robert Oppenheimer on his Ph.D. dissertation, “The Effect of Electron-Hole Scattering Resonance on X-Ray Emission Spectrum.” He returned to Ghana and served as the first Ghanian full Professor of Mathematics where he worked at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

During his time at KNUST, Allotey also served as head of the Department of Mathematics, Dean of the Faculty of Science, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University. Among other positions, he also served as chairman of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, was a founding member of the African Academy of Sciences, founding president of the African Physical Society, and President of the Ghana Institute of Physics.

In 1973 Allotey won a Prince Philip Gold Metal Award for his work on soft X-ray spectroscopy. Through this work he developed a method, the “Allotey Formalism,” to determine matter in outer space.

He was also a consultant for numerous international bodies such as the United Nations Organization, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Atomic Energy Agency, Intergovernmental Bureau for Information and United Nations Industrial and Development Organization

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