Ghana: Call for Policy Review in Forensic Science Education

Author: Yahaya Sumara Sulley

Department of Forensic Sciences, Faculty of Biosciences, University for Development Studies, Tamale – Ghana

Researchers from the University for Development Studies (UDS) Department of Forensic Sciences reiterate that forensic science is facing fundamental challenges in governance, legislation, practice, infrastructural development and research in Ghana. The study which was conducted from 2019 to 2021 identified the less priority given to forensic science education as a major challenge that is plundering forensic science in Ghana.

The findings were well-grounded after an assessment of the state of forensic support to criminal investigations using the Greater Accra Region as a case study turned out to be poor. The researchers cited a few instances where forensic science was applied in solving crimes, but surprisingly, reports based on respondents’ viewpoints at the time of the research showed that forensic science is underutilized in Ghana.

According to the researchers, forensic science in Ghana requires an urgent policy review to help the nation achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). In addition, their study identifies education as a precursor of knowledge and recommends that it must be leveraged to propagate the hope that forensic science brings to society.

In the original scientific paper published in the Ghana Journal of Science, the researchers put forward policy recommendations that call for respective stakeholders and policymakers to get involved in the battle for a forensic science revolution in Ghana.

Snippets of the policy recommendations are outlined below:

Law and order: First off, law and order need to be heavily enforced in Ghana as a matter of ensuring national security.

Forensic database: Creation of specific databases to help solve specific crimes while counting on a national forensic database in the future.

Research Funding and Collaboration: Scientists should be open to collaborating and partnering with forensic scientists, law enforcement and relevant institutions towards solving problems of forensic need. Government and relevant stakeholders should support forensic science research with infrastructure, grants and funding to encourage people in the discipline.

Scholarships: To bolster the forensic science capacity of the country, scholarships should be dedicated to individuals interested in the field of forensic science just like it has always been done for medical students in the country. This will improve the number of forensic experts in the country in both practice and academia to balance the priority given to our health, security, fundamental human rights and other important sectors of development.

Forensic science education: Aspects of forensic science must be included in the educational curriculum especially at the high school level just like “sex education” and other equally relevant subjects. This will boost the awareness level of individuals thereby minimizing issues of crime scene contamination and tampering with evidence to enable law enforcement agencies to do their work well. Most especially forensic science modules must be incorporated into the curriculum of all law schools and programmes that take law courses in Ghana to balance the knowledge vessel of the professionals the nation is building. Finally, forensic science advocacy, symposiums, seminars, conferences and outreach which the UDS Department of forensic sciences is already dedicated to should be utilized as a medium to whip up the interest of the next generation of professionals in the forensic science discipline. Lastly, administrative approval and accreditation for the establishment of more forensic science departments in various universities is a call that should be pleasing to the ears at this time of the country’s evolution. Education is the bedrock of the social and economic development of every nation. If policies are implemented to facilitate forensic science education, many other aspects of the nation’s economic and social development will be affected positively.

Authors perspective

“Looking at the forensic science capacity of Ghana and the digitization policy of the government as compared to other countries within the West African Subregion, Ghana appears to be a perfect destination for a center of excellence or institute of forensic sciences. If this attempt works, it should be dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of crimes and justice administration through science. Also, this center should serve as a training and research hub to train students and add value to already existing professionals in the discipline across the Sub-region

Read the full paper here: Sulley, Y. S., Quansah, L., (2021). Assessing the state of forensic support to criminal investigations in Ghana: A case study in the Greater Accra Region. Ghana Journal of Science. DOI: 10.4314/gjs.v62i2.5