Ekow Vincent Assafuah is PRO, Ministry of Education

The Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Education, Vincent Ekow Assafuah says claims by Universities and other educational stakeholders concerning the stifling of academic freedom should the Public Universities Bill 2020 be passed, are mere exaggerations.

Speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile Saturday, Vincent Asssafuah said no part of the bill stifles academic freedom, rather the bill only seeks to harmonise the governance, administration, and accountability structures of public universities.

However he said academic freedom was not a guarantee that university heads could do as they please whenever they please, thus the need to populate the University council with political actors to oversee the activities of these universities.

“Now is there any part of the bill that is put forward to Parliament that suggests that a university lecturer cannot go ahead with any research and the university council may have a problem with or without?

“Is there any part of the bill that shows that a lecturer or a staff of the university cannot do what he or she has been doing before the introduction of this bill?

“If there is nothing like that then the issue of academic freedom is one that is exaggerated in my opinion because academic freedom does not necessarily mean that the management or the leadership of the various universities could do whatever they want at any point in time.”

The proposed Public Universities Bill has been met with strong opposition from University authorities, lecturers, Teachers’ unions and other major stakeholders who have argued that not only would the bill stifle academic freedom, it will deprive Universities of their much needed autonomy.

The UTAG after perusing the bill said “the passage of the Bill into law in its current form will create more problems for the running of the universities than they seek to resolve.”

But, the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Education sees nothing wrong with the bill.

“I don’t see that because if you check section 43 of the current bill which clearly talks about what academic freedom is I don’t see where there is any difficulty…” he said.