Dear Honorable Minister,
It is with a heavy heart and profound anguish that I write the note below to you, on behalf of concerned Professors. My only prayer is that you take the content seriously and act on it decisively to save this country. I will keep a copy of this to show my children one day in order to absolve myself if you do not act. Posterity will judge each of us.
Thank you in advance for reading this.
Concerned University Professors (CUP).
- The Vice Chancellors, Ghana (VCG)
- Ghana Accreditation Board (GAB)
- The Speaker of Parliament
RE: The Final Nail in Ghana’s Coffin: The Ghana Accreditation Board and Abysmal Academic Standards
If I pose the following question to several Ghanaians, it is very likely that more than one in every two persons will provide the wrong answer. And here comes the question: what are the two key factors that explain why some countries do so well, economically, and others like Ghana struggle in perpetuity? The answer is obviously not natural resource endowment, but simply good institutions and high-quality human capital (education). Indeed, economists have found that countries that depend on natural resources (such as gold, oil, diamond, and timber) for a larger share of their national income, are more likely to be poorer and have unequal opportunities for its citizens than their counterparts who depend less on those resources. This must be obvious to you as you compare Ghana to countries like Botswana and South Africa.
By institutions, I am broadly referring to formal and informal rules and social norms that govern our behavior, as we interact with each other and our society at large. This may include our patterns of behavior at home and our work places, what we condone and frown upon as individuals and as a society. Bad institutions are nails in the coffin of economic progress, but it is nothing compared to poorly developed human capital (education). A well-trained and educated labor force is a jewel for economic development if they are able to create opportunities at home and provide employment to others. Those who migrate to other countries are able to find reputable jobs and positions, sending tons of money home each year. Indeed a large number of the best surgeons, engineers, economists, lawyers and what have you in Europe and North America are Africans. Moreover, a highly educated nation cannot be cheated by a few elites, and public decision making will be based on facts rather than heuristics. In recent times, tearfully, the tides have turned for the worse, thanks to Ghana’s dysfunctional accreditation board. Yet, not even the few men of conscience appear to care or even notice the catastrophe. Every employer in Ghana has noticed a sharp decline in the quality of graduates churned out of our tertiary institutions.
Hold your breath as I try to explain the shocking source of the problem to you. Have you wondered why graduates cannot write simple sentences? And postgraduate certificate holders cannot do the most basic data analysis? The fact is there are several individuals teaching your kids in our public institutions with certificates from unaccredited institutions, some disguisedly registered under Ghana Accreditation Board! Can the board explain to Ghanaians why for example, the Swiss Management Center (SMC), which is not accredited in Switzerland is registered under the board and offering an online Doctoral Certificates in Business Administration in 1-2 years! There is no recognized doctoral program that lasts less than 3 years anywhere in the world, even if the candidate does the program in residence. In fact, most resident doctoral program in North Africa and Scandinavia last 4 years but students are only able to defend their thesis in the 5th year! In the United Kingdom, where students don’t take PhD level courses but just write dissertation, the duration is 3 years but again the students in residence defend only in the 4th year. By default, anyone with a doctorate degree can teach a master’s level course. Can you imagine, what happens if a fake doctorate degree holder teaches a master’s degree candidate who intends to teach an undergraduate course? From my reading, the SMC is also affiliated to another institution in Nicaragua (Universidad Central de Nicaragua), which grants an additional doctorate certificate for a fee of $10,000 after receiving the fake SMC certificate! No wonder some individuals are now called “Dr. Dr.” in Ghana these days. Are we building a nation or putting the final nail in the coffin?
Don’t panic yet, the best has been saved for the last. If you use emails, then I bet you may have ever received phony messages in the past from tricksters claiming to be a brother, sister, wife or husband of a dead millionaire, and asking for assistance to move money from a foreign account. I am sure you may have also realized that most are out of that business these days. So what business have they changed to? Well, they are into something even bigger and better: online journals for lecturers to publish articles in and become ‘professors’ in record time. Yes, we have school dropouts who have created phony websites for academic journals and that is where many lectures are publishing for promotion to senior lecturers and professors in their respective fields in some of our tertiary institutions. Just type “predatory journals” in google and you will be alarmed at the rate at which the numbers of such fake journals have grown over the years.
In most fields in the social sciences it takes on the average 5 years from the time a research idea is conceived to when it is published in a peer-reviewed journal: a painful process indeed. The predatory journals, on the other hand, have dubious peer-review processes or no review process at all, and articles submitted to them are published in less than a week as soon as you pay a fee ranging from US$80 to $400! Your article does not have to convey any message and don’t even worry about grammar. Indeed, a JHS dropout can publish an article in a medical science journal online within a week if she has the cash. This is no joke and this is not funny! I guess the perpetrators must be cursing themselves for having wasted their time in the past on scam emails with little success. If you are contemplating why we have several ‘professors’ who ‘profess’ nothing in Ghana these days, that’s exactly the reason.
There are two potential costs of using fake titles in a University or Polytechnic. First, the perpetrators are a danger to themselves, and second they are a serious cancer to society. Imagine a fresh master’s degree holder, with no track record of peer-reviewed publications, parading as a ‘professor’ in a university. The nation stands the risk of having poorly trained (polluted) unsuspecting citizens, who may be incapable of contributing to nation-building in many ways. The ‘polluted’ citizens, may also end up polluting other unsuspecting individuals they come across at the workplace or the classroom. Such charlatans may end up being appointed to decision-making positions in institutions, making decisions on program content, including graduate programs in universities across the country. Moreover, a professor’s salary is much higher than that of a lecturer, so a nation with limited resources will be paying undeserving salaries to con artists. Yet, it appears no one is ready to stop this!
Here are some facts:
- The Swiss Management Center (SMC) is not an accredited institution in Switzerland but is it granting 1-2 year online doctorate degree to unsuspecting Ghanaians.
- There are lecturers in Ghana’s public universities teaching with such fake certificates. There are several of them at University of Professional Studies (UPS) and at least one in University of Cape Coast (UCC).
- The SMC is registered under Ghana Accreditation Board, although it is not accredited.
- After obtaining the fake doctoral certificate from SMC, you can mail it plus $10,000 to Nicaragua (Universidad Central de Nicaragua) for another doctorate certificate. At this time, you become “Dr. Dr.”
- A number of lecturers have been promoted based on phony publications in fake (‘sakawa’) journals online. Please check the list of predatory journals online and use that to crosscheck publications of lecturers and professors.
- There are SMC degree holders serving as academic auditors for the Ghana Accreditation Board.
- No credible University in North American or Europe will accept unaccredited (or accredited) online PhD degree holder to teach.
In order to save what is left of our low academic standards and the battered image of this country, I, on behalf of Concerned University Professors in Ghana, recommend the following:
- Reconstitute the Ghana Accreditation Board with immediate effect.
- Setup a national institution that will be responsible for validating any certificate used to teach in any accredited university or tertiary institution in Ghana.
- Revoke all certificates of lectures from unaccredited institutions, like the SMC.
- Set up a committee to evaluate the promotion criteria and processesof all the tertiary institutions in the country. The committee must set a minimum criteria for promotion.
The Cost of no-action:
- More and more individuals will go for fake certificates.
- Fake certificate holders will publish online and become professors.
- This will dilute the qualification of all academics in the country as people are quick to generalize.
- The quality of education will sink beyond repairs
- Ghanaians will find it harder to continue their education abroad, even if they opt to pay fees.
- Ghanaian graduates will find it harder to work abroad, as no one will trust the value of their certificates.
- With poorly trained decision makers, the country may never see any meaningful economic process in generations.
Heaven help those who help themselves. Ghana will not change my accident, we have to make the change happen. I rest my case.
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