Ms. Laura Royer, Policy Officer at the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities, Brussels paid a courtesy call on the Acting President of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) Emerita Professor Isabella Akyinbah Quakyi on Wednesday 18 May 2022. In attendance at the meeting were Mr. Francis Prince Ankrah, Deputy Executive Secretary and Mr. Clifford Tetteh, Communications Officer.
Ms. Royer who is on a short visit in Accra, to engage in strategic partnerships with African universities through ARUA, said she deemed it an irresistible opportunity to call on the Academy while in the country, to gather information on how the EU could foster relations with a body such as the Academy.
The Acting President of the Academy Emerita Professor Isabella Akyinbah Quakyi said the mission of GAAS, the nation’s premier learned society, is to encourage the creation, acquisition, dissemination and utilization of knowledge for national development through the promotion of learning. She said the Academy was governed by an 11-member Council comprising; the President, two Vice Presidents representing the Arts and Sciences respectively; an Honorary Treasurer, an Honorary Secretary and the immediate past president of the Academy as well as four other members elected from the Arts and Sciences sections. She said the programmatic work of the Academy especially to do with policy advise was done by eight chapters namely; Health and Sanitation, Food and Agriculture; Political, Constitutional & Legal Affairs; Languages, Culture and the Arts; Social and Economic Affairs; Science, Technology and Engineering; Natural Resource, Energy and Environment; and Education.
She said during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, for instance, the Health and Sanitation Chapter did very commendable work in developing models to advise government’s decision-making on a host of issues bordering on movement as well as social support for disadvantaged groups.
She said, at the moment, the Academy had provided a formidable trans-disciplinary platform on which researchers and clinicians drawn from the Academy, COCOBOD, Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and the private sector were collaborating on research into cocoa as an enhancer in the treatment of some life-threatening diseases.
She added that the day to day running of the Academy is handled by a secretariat of full-time staff headed by the Executive Secretary. She said whilst GAAS had not been directly engaged in primary research for some considerable period of time now, its members, many of whom are still in active service in the various universities and research institutions all over the country, were the pioneers and drivers of research in their various fields of endeavour.
Emerita Professor Quakyi noted that the Academy had leveraged on its reputation for independence and integrity and its convening power, to organise and facilitate high-level national consultations on major issues of policy and practice such as the GAAS-Leopoldina-NASAC International Workshop on Sustainable African Cities: Debating Current Challenges and Exploring Future Pathways that took place in Accra from 3-6 July 2018. Mr Ankrah added that in the last decade GAAS had helped to convene several grantsmanship workshops for young researchers; served as the local Administrator of DANIDA’s Call for Applications for Development Research programme in addition to providing specialists to help with the first-round
shortlisting of applicants from 2015 to 2020 and before that the local Administrator for the Leverhulme-Royal Society Africa Awards in Ghana.
Ms. Royer said the Guild, which is ARUA’s equivalent in Europe had as its mission, advocacy and lobbying on behalf of its members. She said the two questions she was seeking answers to whilst in Ghana were:
· How to strengthen collaboration between universities in Africa and Europe; and
· How to strengthen the research ecosystem in Africa.
She said together with ARUA, the Guild hoped to advocate for more collaboration between the EU and AU towards Agenda 2063. She said she looked forward to GAAS forging closer ties with the Guild.
The Guild was founded in 2016, and comprises twenty-one of Europe’s most distinguished research-intensive universities in sixteen countries, and is dedicated to enhancing the voice of academic institutions, their researchers and their students. Members of The Guild share a commitment to research quality as the key driver for knowledge creation, to better inform policy-making and the targeting of research funding in the EU, and to develop close partnerships with cultural organizations, think tanks, industry and businesses. The Core Principles which underpin The Guild embody a vision of how common and shared activity strengthens best practice and builds capacity within each member institution. The Guild Office is located in Brussels, Belgium and is led by the Secretary-General, Jan Palmowski.