Rich History Behind The Establishment of Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science And Technology, From KCT In 1952

Rich History Behind The Establishment of Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science And Technology, From KCT In 1952

  • KNUST was birthed from Kumasi College of Technology in 1952, following an Act of Parliament, which required the establishment of two universities in Kumasi and Accra
  • The first set of students for the university comprised 200 teacher training students who were transferred from Achimota College
  • Robert Patrick Baffour became the first ever vice-chancellor (VC) of KNUST, and in August 2020, Rita Akosua Dickson became the school's first female VC

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The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology has helped impart knowledge to many students over the years. Individuals have had their dreams realised and have made impacts in their various fields because of the intellectual foundation acquired at the university.

KNUST as an academic institution has officially been in existence and grooming future leaders and change-makers since 1952. The birth of the school can be attributed to a dream the then-Asantehene, Agyeman Prempeh I, had, which was to establish a tertiary institution that would bring modernisation to the Ashanti Kingdom.

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How Kumasi College of Technology was transformed to KNUST
A pillar with KNUST inscribed on it, entrance to KNUST Photo credit: knust.edu.gh
Source: UGC

It, however, took the efforts of his younger brother and successor, Agyeman Prempeh II, to bring the vision to life. YEN.com.gh has, therefore, highlighted the events that led to the establishment of one of Ghana's biggest tertiary institutions.

The Kumasi College of Technology (KCT) was the original name of the KNUST. The college was established in 1951 after the Watson Commission, which was set up to investigate the 1948 Accra riots, recommended that a tertiary institution be established in Kumasi.

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KCT was officially opened in 1952, and its School of Engineering became the first of many faculties to come, the Ghanaian Museum reported. 200 teacher training students were transferred from Achimota College to get the school running. Students were mainly prepared for professional qualifications, after which the University of London Bachelor of Engineering External Degree Examinations was conducted.

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How Kumasi College of Technology was transformed to KNUST
The first batch of students of Kumasi College of Technology Photo credit: KNUST
Source: Twitter

The School of Engineering, now the College of Engineering, has since grown into three faculties: Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Civil and Geological Engineering. The faculties have 15 bachelor's programmes and 20 master's and doctorate programmes.

In a video, Professor Mark Adom-Asamoah, the current provost of the College of Engineering, said the college's core mandate was to train top-notch students.

In order to achieve that, we need good professionals and human resources. In that wise, we are very much concerned with getting top-level professors to help in teaching", he said.
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In January 1953, the Department of Pharmacy was finally birthed, and the first set of students was transferred from the then School of Pharmacy at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. The programme duration was two years, and in the end, a Pharmacy Board certificate was awarded.

Over the years, KNUST has restructured the programme from just a certification to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Also, the programme now runs for six years instead of the initial two years.

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The Department of Agriculture was also established in 1953. A General Studies department was soon established to prepare students for the Higher School Certificate Examinations in Science and Arts subjects.

The Kumasi College of Technology kept growing, which called for establishing the School of Architecture, Town Planning and Building in 1957.

Converting Kumasi College of Technology into Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

In 1960, the government established a university commission to advise on how university education in Ghana could evolve in the future.

Based on the commission's report, which came out a year later, the government decided to build two separate universities in Kumasi and Accra. Accordingly, the Kumasi College of Technology became the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology by an Act of Parliament.

Professor Kwesi Andam, a former Vice-chancellor of KNUST, highlighted the vision of Kwame Nkrumah when he decided to turn the KCT into a fully-fletched university.

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"Nkrumah knew the value of science and technology and quickly ensured that the institution would be transformed into a university to help impart such knowledge. He lived in the US and saw how the most powerful nation on earth was progressing in those days. He believed that if there was any hope of Ghana and Africa catching up, we had to learn how they had done it and establishing KNUST was one of the ways", he said in an interview.
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Professor Andam explained that KNUST was founded to facilitate the sustainable development of Africa as a whole and that the university's mandate is to ensure the total development of Africa by training and grooming students who would become change-makers on the continent.

The school's name was, however, changed to the University of Science and Technology after the overthrow of Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, on February 24, 1966.

But in 1998, a different act of parliament, Act 559, changed the institution's name back to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

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How Kumasi College of Technology was transformed to KNUST
Photos of Kumasi College of Technology Photo credit: researchgate.net
Source: UGC

Robert Patrick Baffour, the first Vice-chancellor of KNUST, and Rita Akosua Dickson, the first female Vice-chancellor of KNUST

Robert Patrick Baffour played an instrumental role in the transitioning of the Kumasi College of Technology to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology; hence in 1961, he was appointed by Kwame Nkrumah as the first Vice-chancellor of the institution. He served in the position for six years.

The first VC of KNUST was a mechanical engineer by profession. Robert Patrick Baffour played an instrumental role in the transitioning of Kumasi College of Technology to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. And in 1961, he was appointed by Dr Kwame Nkrumah as the very first Vice-chancellor of the institution. He served in the position for six years.

History Behind The Establishment of Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science And Technology
Young Robert Patrick Baffour posing for the camera, and in his ceremonial gown. Photo credit: Robert Patrick Baffour@100/Facebook, Mfantsipim/Twitter
Source: Twitter

Dr Robert Patrick Baffour became the first Ghanaian to acquire a University of London degree in mechanical engineering right here in Ghana without travelling to the UK for studies.

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The father of engineering, as referred to by many, was also responsible for several inventions in Ghana, such as the 'descender gear' for use on locomotives to prevent slipping on wet rails as well as a clockwork device, which was used back then to provide a means of determining the flight path of an aeroplane.

One of the major histories that have been made since the establishment of KNUST is the appointment of the first female Vice-chancellor.

How Kumasi College of Technology was transformed to KNUST
Rita Akosua Dickson being inducted as KNUST Vice-chanchellor and giving a speech Photo credit: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
Source: Facebook

On August 1, 2020, Professor Rita Akosua Dickson became the first woman to fill the office of vice-chancellor of the university. This became only the second time a woman had risen to the highest rank in public university administration in Ghana. The first was when Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang was appointed vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Coast in 2008, making her the first female Vice-chancellor of a public university in Ghana.

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Professor Dickson had set several records before she was appointed Vice-chancellor of KNUST. She was, for example, the first woman to become dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the first female Pro-vice chancellor of the institution.

Kwame Nkrumah's vision for Africa's sustainable development through establishing KNUST is gradually being realised. This is evidenced by the thousands of students KNUST has trained who are making positive impacts in various fields across the continent.

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An example is Christian Dzuvor, a past student of KNUST who, at just 27, in May, successfully completed his PhD programme at Monash University in Australia. His program focused on engineering protein-based supramolecular nanomaterials as alternative antibacterial agents to address antibiotic resistance.

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Source: YEN.com.gh

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