The Minister-designate for Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, has advised female students to strive to do better in the universities instead of giving in to advances by male lecturers in order to earn their grades.

She admitted that the problem of sex for grades in the universities existed, explaining, however, that it might not be widespread.

Answering a question on whether sex for grades in the universities was just a perception or reality when she appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, the nominee, who is the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, said she had heard about that situation.

Prof. Opoku-Agyeman explained that the situation was, however, not an over-riding factor in the award of grades in the universities, since it was not the rule but an exception.

“Even if it is one person who is perpetrating this act it is bad and should not be encouraged,” she said, adding that if that happened, it compromised the system.

“Whoever is doing that must be ashamed. Shame onto you,” she said amid laughter from members of the committee and the packed audience.

She encouraged female university students to be up and doing, since they were up to any task assigned them at the universities instead of offering themselves to some university lecturers for grades.

When asked about her thoughts about the ongoing debate about free education for senior high school students, Prof. Opoku-Agyeman said the question should not be free or fee paying, the overriding factor should be the outcome.

“Whether education at the second cycle level is free or not, the question that we should ask ourselves is: are we getting what we want? That should be our concern,” she said.

The nominee told the committee that as far as she was concerned, a final decision was taken on the matter when Parliament voted to change the four-year duration to the present duration.

Even though the MP for Wa West, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, pressed on to know about the personal view of Prof. Opoku-Agyeman, he was ruled out by the chairman of the committee and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro.

Touching on how the public universities had veered off from their core mandate, the Education Minister-designate said the Acts that set up the universities also gave them mandate to respond to other national needs in the provision of human resources.

Prof. Opoku-Agyeman said the problem of the shortfall in the training of Science-based professionals should rather be tackled from the basic schools, where some teachers lacked the requisite knowledge to develop the interests of pupils to offer the Sciences at higher levels of education.

She said there was the need for teachers teaching at basic level to know how to teach the Sciences to enable their students to have the interests to offer Science courses in the universities.

Asked whether she was satisfied with the current conditions of service for teachers, the nominee stated that even though so much had already been done for teachers, much more needed to be done for them to entice them to offer their best.

Prof. Opoku-Agyeman promised to partner the Ghana Education Service (GES) to ensure that the well-being of teachers is improved.

She stated that incentives such as scholarships, and participation in seminars could be used to motivate teachers to put in their best.

The nominee said Ghanaians owed it to themselves to assist the government to raise the level of public schools to that of private schools and explained that she was going to collaborate with stakeholders for the realisation of that dream.

She told the committee that it was unfortunate that salaries of newly posted teachers delayed and attributed the situation to administrative bureaucracies and gave an assurance that she was going to look into the matter should she be given the nod.

On the vacancies in classrooms, Prof. Opoku- Agyeman said there was the need for an aggressive programme to train more teachers to fill the vacancies to ensure that quality education was offered to pupils in rural areas.

She said that absenteeism of teachers was a worrying situation and attributed it to ineffective supervision, explaining that teachers offering sandwich programmes had no business to absent themselves, since their lectures were conducted during weekends.

Prof. Opoku-Agyeman attributed the threat of strike action by the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) to cumbersome procedures in the resolution of labour problems and called for such procedures to be made simple to avoid unnecessary strike actions.

On the issue of discipline, she said discipline should be coded and all stakeholders should be aware of what sanctions were in place for breaking rules.