Afrisnet Launches the first Student Chapter at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana
In December 2019, the Afrisnet Board of Directors approved the launching of the Afrisnet Student Chapter at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana. The objective of the chapter is to provide a channel through which Afrisnet will plan and carry out various activities to support students in science and research initiatives at KNUST campus and beyond. The activities of the chapter will be led and carried out primarily by the KNUST students themselves, but the chapter will operate under the Afrisnet’s Education Committee. In efforts to support African students that have interest in research, it is essential to establish a sustainable system through which students can be exposed to the culture and the practice of research; college African students need to be informed about novel and leading research opportunities, applications, and publications from around the world. Through student chapters at African campuses, Afrisnet intends to inform and train students in various STEM fields. The chapters will also provide a pool of outstanding students who will be encouraged and prepared to seek research experience through research-based internships and graduate programs at advanced institutions around the globe.
The Afrisnet chapter will be led and composed by students from different fields in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The students will undertake regular and various activities together or in subgroups depending on their fields of study or the nature of the activities.
Students in Afrisnet chapters will seek, plan, and engage in science and research-related activities that will enhance their leadership skills and increase their overall knowledge and awareness of research in Africa and beyond. Afrisnet officers and instructors are working to seek collaborations where students from the chapters can be taught remotely by faculty at advanced institutes from anywhere in the world. In some fields such as computer sciences or bioinformatics, selected students in the Afrisnet chapters will even be able to participate in real research projects remotely. In addition, students will also make efforts to leverage all the local resources available to them to participate in research. This will include participating in ongoing research projects at their campuses or beyond. Once the students have been able to engage in research, they will, through the chapter, submit abstracts and participate in research symposia where they will present the findings from their research projects. The research presentations will sharpen the students’ research communication skills, both orally and in writing. In addition to remote training and research, students in the Afrisnet chapter will engage in many other activities locally. For example, within their respective STEM fields, students will participate in journal clubs where they will, under supervision and guidance of a faculty, read and discuss groundbreaking research literature. The students will also plan and undertake outreach projects, where they will go out to share their science knowledge in their local communities. Overall, the Afrisnet chapter activities aim at boosting the students’ research capacity both in practice and communication.
According to Dr. Schwab, the Chair of Afrisnet’s Education Committee and under whose’s authority the student chapters will operate, ” founding the KNUST chapter represents a great accomplishment for both Afrisnet and the students at KNUST. With the chapter in place, Afrisnet will be able to reach students much earlier, providing them with professional development training and research experiences that will grow them into highly skilled young scientists able to compete within Africa and around the world. My hope is that the KNUST chapter of Afrisnet will serve as a model for chapters at other universities throughout the continent.” Isaiah Duah, the Student chapter President said the chapter will be a great way to reach out to many students at KNUST and to motivate the students to pursue research. As the President of the chapter, Isaiah hopes to encourage his fellow African students to think about research not only as an academic requirement but also as a means to solve real-life problems of their communities. The students working with Isaiah to lead the chapter are Georgina Okyere (Vice President), Eugenia Nyarko (Head Spokesperson), Essumang Frank (Head of Planning), Saviour Davor (Head of Development). and Loretta Aboagyewa who will serve as the Head of Outreach and Awareness.
Afrisnet uses people-centered approaches to increase the awareness, the interest, and the exposure of African students to research. For college students who wish to engage in successful research projects, the mainstream curricular coursework is often insufficient. The students have to be able to engage in additional research opportunities that will expose them to the breadth of both the literature and the practice of research in their fields of study. Student chapters provide a platform through which Afrisnet instructors will work with students directly and individually to identify their goals, potential, and challenges in regards to research. Furthermore, successful research projects often require strategic collaborations and mutual support among researchers. In the same spirit, the student chapters will allow an environment in which the students will work together and support each other objectively. In this environment, the students will be able to share research knowledge and opportunities from their campuses and beyond. The student chapter at KNUST is inaugural, but Afrisnet plans to launch chapters at other campuses in Africa.