Professor Neil Turok, Founder of African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) says there will be more pandemics and destruction of Agriculture if Science is not used well.
The Professor observed that the world was in a very worse state and that the COVID-19 pandemic was as a result of Agriculture not being managed properly, which resulted in the spread of the disease from wildlife to humans.
Prof Turok said this in Accra at a memorial public lecture in honour of the late Ghanaian Mathematician, Prof Francis Allotey, who died in November 2017.
The lecture was organised by AIMS on the theme: “Developing Versatile and Innovative STEM Leaders for Africa’s Scientific Excellence and Socio-Economic Development.”
“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 and when they get into Science, they will do so in the interest of their communities and help protect them and the world at large,” he said.
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 huge numbers, they will be able to change the way Science is done because Science needs to change. It is a very powerful tool, which can either be used for good or evil.
“Most countries are using it to make weapons, nuclear bombs, man-made disease 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 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 had 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.