One of the unique features of the University is the fact that it has successfully blended it s academic programmes with intensive community –based field practical training, dubbed the Third Trimester Practical Programme (TTFPP). A whole of the third trimester is devoted solely to practical field work in the local communities. Students of a given year group identify a specific region, and in smaller groups live and interact with the people in the local communities during each third trimester for a period of three years. Since its inception in 1993, the programme quality has improved over the years to the extent that in the 2002/2003 academic year, the University embarked on an integrated approach to the field practical training.
Integrated TTFPP: Concept and rationale
This significant modification entails the combination of students from all the faculties: Agriculture, Integrated Development Studies; Applied Science and the school of Medicine and Health Sciences. This integrated approach is informed by the growing awareness of the holistic approach to the solution of development problems of the deprived communities, which UDS has positioned itself to serve. This Integrated approach would therefore enable students to appreciate community problems and opportunities in a holistic manner through the perception and appreciation of such problems from various angles, secondly, the integration will help broaden the knowledge and experience of students, as they would have the opportunity to interact and learn from each other. It will also foster in them the spirit of team work, which is very essential for work in a world that is becoming increasingly complex and requiring collective efforts to overcome challenges.
In consonance with the vision of the university, the integrated TTFPP will continue to be a community-centered and entails a three year active and constructive interaction between the University and the communities to work towards the solution of their development problems.
This community-technical interface is aimed at:
- Promoting active and constructive interactions of both students and staff with the local communities to facilitate socio-economic transformation.
- Exposing both students and lecturers, practically, to the nexus of development problems of deprived communities in Ghana and particularly in Northern Ghana;
- Fostering favorable attitudes in students towards working in Deprived communities;
- Supporting the District Assemblies, Local communities and other development actors to implement and sustain the government’s decentralization and other pro-poor programmes.
- Placing the University in a better position to provide useful services through the exchange of knowledge and its application to address the intractable development needs and aspirations of these communities;
- Informing the ongoing research, teaching and learning activities of the University, which are designed to meet the development needs of local communities.
Content and organisation
The three year intensive engagement is an iterative process that introduces the student to community studies in the first year. In this introductory phase the student is equipped with the necessary skills to enable him/her, together with the community members collect and analyse information leading to the preparation of a community profile. In the second year the students and their respective communities build on what was done in the previous year to enable them identify the development problems and challenges. In the third year students work in smaller groups on specific problem areas together with the community members with a view to formulating specific interventions. Given the growing student numbers and the need to ensure sustainability the fieldwork will be organized as follows to:
Students are continuously assessed at all the phases of the programme – orientation, community immersion, community and district level seminars and workshops and written reports. This ensures the effective participation of all students in the programme.