Historically, planning education in Ghana began in 1958 with the establishment of a planning programme in the School of Architecture, Planning and Building of the Kumasi College of Arts, Science and Technology. The Programme prepared students for the intermediate examinations of the Town Planning Institute of Great Britain. After passing the intermediate examination, students were sent to Universities in Great Britain to obtain full professional qualifications.
Following from the above, the United Nations assisted the Government of Ghana to establish an Institute for Community Planning on the Campus of Kumasi College of Arts, Science and Technology in 1961. The objective of the Institute was to train and educate planners at the sub-professional level. Successful students were awarded Diplomas of the Institute. It was a two-year programme with an annual intake of 20 students. In 1963, the Institute for Community Planning was absorbed by the newly created Faculty of Architecture of the Kumasi College whose status had been raised a year earlier to that of a University. The duration of the Diploma programme was extended to three years by the Faculty in order to enable successful Diploma holders obtain jobs in the civil and public services at salaries proportionate with and appropriate to their skills and level of education.
In time, the Faculty instituted a new programme leading to a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) Degree in Design in the new Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. The Programme was designed such that students graduating with degrees could then choose to pursue postgraduate degrees in Architecture, Planning and Building Technology to enable them carry out professional practice in these fields. The idea of a combined first degree for Planners, Architects and Building Technologists was not very successful because most of the graduating students after obtaining the undergraduate degree opted for architecture, the practice of which appeared to provide the greatest financial rewards. As a result, separate undergraduate degrees in the three professional fields were instituted in 1969 with a first year programme structured for all the disciplines. In the light of the above understanding, a B.Sc. Planning Degree Programme was commenced in 1969.
However, prior to this development, a Master of Science (M.Sc.) Programme in Regional Development Planning had been instituted in the year 1964. The M.Sc. Programme in Regional Development Planning was suspended for reorganization in 1984 and has since been replaced with a modified Programme in Development Policy and Planning which took effect from the 1994/1995 academic year.
After running the M.Sc. DEPP Programme successfully for over ten years, admission to the Programme did become so competitive that the Department considered it necessary to seek the Academic Board approval through the School of Graduate Studies to run a Sandwich version of the said Programme for those who are not able to enroll as regular students.
The main purpose of introducing this Programme version includes the following:
- To enable the Department train more graduates in Development Policy and Planning;
- To assist potential students who might not be able to leave their jobs for two continuous years to pursue graduate education in the programme;
- To introduce the first self finance graduate Programme in the Department of Planning; and
- To accelerate the process of graduating students to fill the yawning gap between development policy and development planning in Ghana.
It is worth noting that the 3-year Diploma programme was discontinued in 1977 not because there was no longer any need for training sub-professionals but because applicants for the programme tended to have the same qualification as those admitted to the degree course. It was difficult to select some of these applicants for the diploma course while their colleagues with essentially same qualifications were admitted to the degree course.
A significant development took place in 1985 in the history of the Department when in collaboration with the Department of Spatial Planning, University of Dortmund in Germany, the Department established a joint postgraduate programme in Development Planning and Management leading to the award of a Master of Science Degree. The first year of the Programme, codenamed SPRING (“Spatial Planning for Regions in Growing Economies”) was tenable at the University of Dortmund, while the second year was spent in Kumasi. This arrangement has been altered since 2003 where the entire two years are currently tenable in Ghana. Candidates for the Programme are drawn from all over Africa. An average of 10 students per year participates in the Programme in Kumasi.
In 1980, an M. Phil. Programme in Development Studies was established which initially was intended to provide opportunity for candidates graduating from the B.Sc. Planning Degree Programme. For clear focus and enlarged impact, the M.Phil Programme was restructured in 1997 to give opportunity to candidates with knowledge in development planning related sciences and disciplines. This notwithstanding, a distinction had to be made between applicants with planning background and those without this attribute
The above restructuring culminated in the mounting of two M.Phil Programmes namely, M. Phil in Planning and M. Phil in Development Studies. In the same vein, in 1997, two streams of PhD Programmes were established. These were the Ph.D in Planning and Ph.D in Development Studies.
Another international collaboration in learning and research came into fruition when in 1998, an agreement was concluded between the Department of Human Settlements, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark, the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DANIDA, concerning DANIDA’s support of a research assistant to a project at the Department. This project, “Community Initiatives and Democratization of Planning Practice in Ghana”, dubbed ENRECA Project has since been offering support to the MPhil Planning Programme.