MSU College of Education and Health Sciences dean travels to Ghana
About one year ago, personnel from the North Dakota National Guard and the United States Agency for International Development approached Minot State University administrators to gauge the universityís interest in collaborating with a university in the Republic of Ghana to provide for the educational needs of that West African countryís children. Neil Nordquist, dean of Minot State Universityís College of Education and Health Sciences, leaves for Ghana on Jan. 18. In face-to-face planning sessions, he will team with key personnel at the University of Education, Winneba to write a grant proposal.
The recommendation of MSU to NDNG and USAID as a partner for such a project came from William Goetz, chancellor of the North Dakota University System. MSUís College of Education and Health Sciences expressed interest in this opportunity; this resulted in MSUís request to work with the University of Education, Winneba to secure a planning grant from Higher Education for Development.
The planning grant award is $50,000, and the application submission deadline is Feb. 1. The Higher Education for Development Request for Application stipulates that an American university must partner with an African university to develop a proposal to build additional capacity in some area of importance to the latterís nation. Bismarck State College is another NDUS school cooperating with an African university to submit a grant proposal for energy development.
"Iím really excited about this-about the possibilities. We feel that a partnership between our two universities in obtaining a HED planning grant could be successful, as the identified needs are areas in which our university has substantial expertise," Nordquist said. "Minot Stateís nationally accredited teacher education program possesses a strong reputation."
In 2006, Montana State University developed a nationwide curriculum assessment system for Ghana. Some Ghanaian teachers remain distrustful of the test scores. MSU wants to collaborate with the African university, write a grant proposal to secure funding and train teachers to use testing data properly. By receiving training, Ghanaian teachers will increase their knowledge and skills. Consequently, they will feel confident and know how to utilize assessment data effectively. The University of Education, Winneba also wants assistance in strengthening distance education for teachers.
Ghana has 22.4 million people and is about the size of Oregon. In the last decade, Ghana has dramatically increased the number of children attending school, and the country directs a large percentage of its gross national product to education. Some schools are modern while others are primitive: 98 percent of the schools do not have adequate computer or audio-visual equipment, while 55 to 78 percent have insufficient math and English textbooks. In Ghana, the school days are shorter than in the U.S. Often, the students are late because they lack transportation.
Knowing that such partnerships enhance educational opportunities for students and faculty, Minot State is looking to expand its international partnerships and activities. Six Ghanaian students are currently graduate students at MSU. Four of them attended the University of Education, Winneba.
"A partnership like this also relates strongly to our Vision 2013. It provides ideal opportunities for our faculty and students to foster engagement," Nordquist said. "It could also lead into increased enrollment for Minot State."
Nordquist plans to return to Minot on Jan. 24.