”I chose my discipline because l truly want to understand why some countries are rich and others are poor. As l see it, public institutions play an important role. Countries with weak and mal-functioning institutions tend to remain poor. However, I also chose economics because it is considered an elite social science. At least in Ghana, where it has a special status.
I had my PhD education at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala between 2008 and 2012. However, l came to Sweden first in 2004 for a masters program in Umeå, which is in the cold and dark parts of northern Sweden. Luckily, I arrived in the summer and could gradually adjust to wintertime. The worst challenge was the two first courses held in Swedish. I and two colleagues from Bangladesh and the US didn’t understand a word of the lectures. We managed to get through anyhow because the literature was in English.
Back home after my PhD, l taught advanced economic theory and financial economy to 4th year undergraduate students. The relationship between teacher and student is strikingly different. Swedish students are free to express their views and teachers actually listen to them. This creates a much more relaxed environment in the classroom. In Ghana, the power structure is very clear and many students are afraid to ask questions. Another big difference is the size of the classes and the equipment available. I sometimes give lectures to more than a hundred students in a big room without any microphone. It is impossible to speak at the top of my voice for two hours, so in the end only students in the front get to hear. All those in the back probably don’t even see what l write on the board”.
George Adu, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute