Former President John Mahama has said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) will withdraw the controversial Public University Bill when voted into power.
The NDC flag bearer in a meeting with the executives of Technical University Teachers Association of Ghana (TUTAG) on Monday, as part of the NDC’s engagement with key stakeholders ahead of 2020 polls accused government of gagging heads of institutions adding that universities have different missions and must be regulated as such.
According to the former President, the Bill stifles academic freedom.
“It looks like academic freedom is being trampled on and taken away by the current government. I think it is a very unfortunate development and all the kinds of things that are happening in the Public University’s Bill to govern all the universities,” he stated.
He asked “who says all universities are the same? So why should they have a common public university bill?” citing an example that “the University of Mines and technology in Tarkwa does not have the same mission as the University of Health and Allied Science in Ho.”
Earlier this year, the Education Ministry drafted the Public University Bill as part of the educational reforms by the government to harmonise public universities, just as it was in the cases of the colleges of education and the technical universities.
The Ministry sees the bill as a necessary one since some of the laws governing the public universities currently as were outmoded, which dated back to 1961.
While some of the stakeholders, including heads of institutions, contend that the bill seeks to take away academic freedom and the autonomy of public universities, the MoE says the reactions are premature because the document is only a draft and not even at the stage of a bill.
Addressing the executives, Mr Mahama added that heads of institutions are unhappy with the development but afraid to speak out for fear of victimization.
He, therefore, demanded the immediate withdrawal of the bill to restore and improve academic freedom.