A distinguished Professor of Population,Environment and Development, Prof. Kofi Awusabo-Asare, has been lauded for his contribution to the academia and national development, at a lecture organised by students and lecturers who have benefitted from his mentorship. The day also marked the 67th birthday of the professor.
Speaking on the topic, “The Academic Life of Prof. Kofi Awusabo-Asare: His Contribution To Academic Excellence, Professional Development and Mentorship,” Prof. Kwesi Anarfi of the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana, cautioned that, “Unless we make the Colleges of Education places of choice, we will never get the best brains to go there”.
Prof. Anarfi made this caution following the withdrawal of allowances paid to students in the Colleges of Education by the outgoing government. This issue generated debates about the fate for students of these Colleges.
Prof. Anarfi believes that the current situation has some serious implications for education, which would not bode well for the nation.
Prof. Anarfi said the current selection method does not allow the best of students to train at the various Colleges of Education since it was difficult to think that someone who made very good grades would opt to go to the training college but not the university.
This, the lecturer said, could be corrected if incentives like payment of allowances were restored to Colleges of Education.
“Some of us would not have gone to the College of Education if it were not for the allowances that were paid. The payment of allowances will be an attraction to brilliant but needy students to pass through Colleges of Education of before going to the university.”
Prof. Anarfi observed that without such facilities, many people occupying top positions in the country including Prof. Awusabo-Asare and himself would not have developed effectively their respective careers.
According to Prof. Anarfi, “We must not fool ourselves; the wage structure of teachers is not one of the best in the country, neither does the occupation have any prestige. No profession attracts so many derogatory remarks than teaching”.
He commended Prof. Awusabo-Asare, whom he describes as an inspirer and an awakener, for mentoring a lot of people to take up various positions in national development mostly in the academia. “This is because he (Prof. Awusabo-Asare) has lived with the realization that, the mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.”
Prof. Awusabo-Asare began his educational journey in his native Akyem Swedru at the St. Andrew Catholic School before he enrolled at the now defunct Nsaba Training College, and completed in 1969. He was then posted to teach in Yamfo in the Brong Ahafo Region
Though he did not have “the patience to wait,” the impression he left after three years of teaching at Yamfo was a “lasting one”.
Due to his desire to move up the ladder in his career, Prof. Awusabo Asare could not wait for the remaining year for him to qualify for study leave with pay. Rather, he left for the University of Cape Coast in 1972.
This action, Prof. Anarfi says, was as a result of “a certain measure of restlessness found in people with vision and mission which drives them to achieve excellence”.
To the speaker, the mantra should be, “It is not where you are, but who you are” since for Prof. Awusabo-Asare, “it has been education by installment,” which has invariably made him “self-made.”
In view of this, Prof. Awusabo-Asare continued his quest to achieve his aim and thus went to the Regional Institute of Population Studies at the University of Ghana to pursue a Graduate Diploma in Population Studies.
He furthered his education overseas, obtaining a Master of Arts Degree in Demography from the Australian National University, Australia and a PhD in Demography and Population Studies from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.
Prof. Anarfi told his audience that, a number of Ghanaians who trained outside in Population Studies abroad refused to come back.
“Almost all the Ghanaians who trained in RIPS and continued elsewhere in Europe, America and Australia, did not come back. It became a joke that African demographers are endangered species. You do not get them to stay in one place for too long. Thank God. Prof. Awusabo- Asare has remained put, all these years”. It was for this reason that the lecturer described Prof. Awusabo-Asare as “patriotic”.
Beyond Prof. Awusabo-Asare’s achievements in the classroom, it instructive to note as Prof. Anarfi puts it, “You can find Prof. Awusabo-Asare’s hand in almost every policy document in Ghana on population and health and HIV/AIDS”.
Concluding, Prof. Anarfi had these kind words for Prof. Awusabo-Asare, “He is evergreen, not only in his ideas, but physically. We thank God for that and it is my belief that he is going to be with us for a long time to come.”
All we can say is “Mbo Kofi ‘Bernard’ aye bi ama wo man.”