Capacity Building for Social Science Research
Through a number of scholarship schemes and close collaboration with external institutions of higher learning, ISSER has sponsored a number of its staff for higher degrees, including Ph.D's. Most of the beneficiaries have returned to the institute, and are contributing immensely to social science research, with special reference to developing countries. This process will be strengthened to ensure that a high calibre staff is available at the Institute at all times.
Complementary to these efforts, for example, the Health and Social Science Research Programme, based at the Institute has already trained at least six senior personnel for social science research, and the plan is to continue to produce more in the years ahead. The Graduate Programme in Development Studies, also based at ISSER, which is designed to support development-oriented research through the process of primary research and teaching, is training development practitioners at the middle and higher levels.
Attraction of Researchers from other Units of the University of Ghana and elsewhere for Collaborative and/or Independent Research
During the early 70s, ISSER attracted a good number of researchers from other departments and units of the University of Ghana for independent research, with excellent results. Other scholars also came locally from the ministries and some public institutions and also universities and institutes abroad.
Currently, the response to research affiliation with ISSER from abroad, especially Japan, the Netherlands and United States of America, has been most encouraging. Collaboration with local institutions has, however, been less active in the recent past due to lack of attractive research packages for them. Efforts will be stepped up to revive this approach of research collaboration, as the funding situation improves.
High Quality Policy-Relevant and Development-Oriented Research
ISSER continues to play a leading role in conducting high quality policy-relevant and development-oriented research for use by stakeholders and other interested parties as well as individuals. ISSER, for instance, has pioneered several studies such as: the design, monitoring and evaluation of development; social dimensions of HIV/AIDS; gender issues; health care financing; behavioural aspects of health care; economic policy options; poverty; information technology; multi-disciplinary population studies and several others too numerous to list here.
In addition, ISSER continues to make contributions by way of inputs into the technical review of Ghana's Medium-Term Development Plans, preparation of Government's responses to poverty reduction in Ghana, analysis of participatory approaches to the formulation of renewable natural resource strategy for Ghana and many other areas. ISSER actively participates in the national economic debate and has provided relevant research support and data to a number of vital committees.
Providing Information to Facilitate the Socio-Economic Development of Ghana
One key strength of ISSER is the ability to provide independent assessment and information on various aspects of the socio-economic situation of Ghana, to guide policies and decision-making. For example, each year since 1992 ISSER has through independent research, prepared, published and disseminated information on the State of the Ghanaian Economy. These reports closely and objectively monitor the performance of the Ghanaian economy in terms of fiscal policies, monetary and financial developments, international trade and payments, performance of the agricultural, industrial and service sectors. Each report also touches on one topical development issue which is selected for in-depth assessment. Through these assessments, ISSER is able to provide far-reaching recommendations aimed at improving the performance of the economy, and at the same time generates additional data for further research on various aspects of the economy for the teaching programmes of the University and other relevant institutions.
Other key publications of the Institute include Technical Reports, Discussion and Seminar Papers, Special Reports and Policy Briefs dealing with critical development issues in Ghana, and also to enhance advocacy.
Encouraging Regional Research Co-Operation Aimed at Regional Integration
This has been a major thrust of ISSER's work both in the past as well as present. Currently, the Institute hosts a SADAOC Foundation Programme involving five West African Countries namely, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali and Togo. This programme, initiated in 1989 through the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, directorate for International Co-operation, aims at developing a structural approach to help improve food security in West Africa through strengthening local research capacity and stimulating high quality research to support policy design.
ISSER staff also serve as expert members on the Network for Environment and Sustainable Development in Africa (NESDA), whose aim is to assist Sub-Saharan African countries to achieve environmentally sustainable development. These experts provide technical assistance to the member countries of the region in critical areas of need to ensure environmental sustainability. ISSER played a key role in providing technical advice and assistance in drawing up Strategic Plans for the Network.
Another example is an institutional strengthening training programme supported by the African Development Bank (ADB), in which ISSER currently participates. The aim is to train high-level programmers, executives, desk officers and other serving personnel to equip them with the necessary skills to ensure that all ADB programmes and projects are environmentally sustained.
Promoting Human Resource Development through Specialist Teaching Programmes
ISSER hosts the University of Ghana's Faculty of Social Studies Graduate Programme in Development Studies. This programme is to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to respond effectively to Ghana's development problems and needs within the framework of the National Development Policy. The programme, which is now in its second year, awards both M.A. and M.Phil. Degrees in Development Studies.
ISSER also routinely administers Diploma and Certificate Courses in Statistics since 1962, and has produced several scores of students many of whom are occupying high positions in the public and private sectors as well as international organisations.
Short-term courses are also regularly run by the Institute, especially for the middle-level personnel in Ghana.