Certification of ignorance: A worrying trend in Ghana’s tertiary institutions  

Certification of ignorance: A worrying trend in Ghana’s tertiary institutions  
Source: Dominic Osei-Boakye
Date: 23-04-2019 Time: 11:04:29:pm
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When final year students are sent to Academic Board for approval for graduation, they are described as follows:

‘The Following Students having: (i) achieved a minimum of xxx credit hours, (ii) passed all required courses, (iii) achieved a Cumulative Grade Point Average xxx or above, (iv) satisfied all other requirements of the School and Institute Boards are recommended for the award of xxxx degree in the classes indicated below’.

When certificates are finally issued, it reads as follows:

‘This is to certify that xxx having pursued a prescribed course at xxx and having passed the requisite examinations this xxxx date has been dully admitted by the university to the degree of xxxx’

If one studies the two above, it is very obvious that certificate is only an EVIDENCE or WITNESS or SYMBOL or RECOGNITION etc that the person has acquired the needed knowledge.

How will somebody then claim to have a certificate in a particular field when he or she has no knowledge to show for it? Possessing a certificate with no knowledge is what I term ‘Certified Ignorant Graduate’.

The rate at which many university students (both young and old) even at the Post Graduate level are eager to find ways and means to get a symbol that they have acquired knowledge without pursuing the knowledge the certificate symbolizes is becoming very alarming and this threatens the future of our country. These same people will be managing this country one way or the other.

Students have all kinds of means to achieve this and I have discussed some of them below starting from BAD to WORST.


CATEGORY 1: NONE SERIOUS STUDENTS (BAD)

There are several students in the university who have been rightly admitted, given the necessary courses to undertake and all processes have been put in place for them to study just like their mates but they fail to learn. Some of them do not attend lectures, do not do their assignments and fail to read.

There are others who will attend lectures for various reasons with the exception of going to learn. They are in school only to showcase their new cars, bags, dress or Uber drivers. Some are just monitoring some girls or boys who happen to be in that lecture hall.

This category of students will end up having no knowledge about the course and so soon examination is here. They will either want to use the examination process to cheat and pass through all kinds of malpractices. Some sneak their mobile phones into the hall, others send foreign materials of all forms (papers, books, handkerchiefs, and sometimes even write on their bodies). If they are not caught, this category of students will still pass and graduate from the university.

Others will like to influence lecturers to pass them with all sorts of enticing packages like money, other gifts and in most situation sexual advances (in the case of some of the female students)

In the end, what is the university certifying? Total Ignorance. These people have become certified illiterate in that field.

CATEGORY 2: MATURED, EVENING, WEEKEND AND DISTANCE STUDENTS (BAD)

Some universities in the country (and I use the word ‘SOME’ advisedly) are notorious for making life easy for matured and part-time students. The usual sympathy talks like ‘they are old men and women’ Is a long time they left school’ They are married men and women with kids and do not have time to learn’ ‘They are very busy at work’ etc.

Nobody told someone to marry before going to university. No one asked a person to grow old before attending university. No one insisted that some people must combine work with school.

I do understand the difficulties of all these categories of students but that does not warrant the lowering of standards to suit them. University’s academic standards (quality assurance) should never be compromised to suit anybody.

The certificates given to students are the same whether Full-Time or Part-Time. The standard of their study must be the same. The certificates issued do not differentiate between Full or Part-Time students.

Yet, university administrators, lecturers and other staff are always quick to assist Part-Time students especially matured ones with sympathy grades. Some of us who work hard to maintain same standards are seen as too hard and lose the students.

But will you blame these lecturers and administrators? May be you should be moderate with your criticisms. Some of these Part Time students are big men and women in societies they belong and can control several things for these lecturers and administrators. Imagine a Police Capo in your class.

The lecturer will not even renew his license and drive pass Red Traffic light and when he is stopped, he will call the boss and all the policemen there will salute the lecturer who is the Offender. Do you see how big Mr Lecturer is feeling now?

As people are in a long queue at the passport office, once Mr Lecturer gets to the place, he is specially ushered into a room and two minutes his passport is ready. That student in the class who never attends lectures is the Capo in that office and Mr Lecturer has been treated like a President. Can he fail him or her?

As people are struggling to get PDS meter, Mr Lecturer calls that PDS Capo and his meter is fixed in a day and everyone wonders how powerful Mr Lecturer is. Won’t he show gratitude?

That journalist is always mentioning Mr Lecturer’s name on the radio as the best and praising him. Mr Lecturer has all of a sudden become a celebrity. Can he fail him or her?

The Member of Parliament, Minister, DCE or big politician who matter in the country are in that class. That man or woman is part of the movers and shakers of the country. Lecturer is feeling proud to have him or her. In fact, the whole university is privileged to have him or her as a student. Mr. Politician cannot even have time to attend lectures. Will they fail him?

Some of the lecturers and administrators do not drive and are picked by these students after lectures and drive them home.

Mr Lecturer, can you fail your driver?

Lecturers and university administrators are always faced with some of these situations and almost always find ways to pass this category of students.

In the end, the university certifies so called matured students with no or half knowledge. They also become certified ignorant people in that field.

CATEGORY 3: THE ‘I ONLY NEED THE CERTIFICATE’ GROUP (BAD)

Following from Category 2 above, there are several students especially part-time ones who have practised in that field of study for years but do not have certificates. To them, they know everything that is being thought because they have practised that for years.

They only need the certificate for promotion. Some of those students do not take the university serious and are always trying to cut corners. But if they are to take their studies serious, they would have realized that the university’s curriculum is richer and can enhance all the skills they already have.

CATEGORY 4: NO SCHOOL (WORSE)

It will interest you to know that there are people who have never been admitted to the university and in fact may not even know where the university is located but will try to get a certificate from the university. This is what they call ‘buying certificates’.

Such people have the financial muscle to entice lecturers and in most cases, university administrators especially Registrars, Examination Officers, Auditors and IT Heads to try and include their names in the graduation list for them to get certificates. Sometimes, very irresponsible parents will even lead this disgraceful crusade for their children.

Some unscrupulous staff may be tempted to carry the image of the entire university and throw it into deep gutters for some few shillings. They ignore the toils of all other staff in maintaining quality assurance and disregard the future of the university’s graduates and current students and destroy the image of the university in such a selfish and unprofessional process.

Obviously, the beneficiaries of heinous academic crime have no knowledge in the area. In the end, the university certifies zero knowledge.

CATEGORY 5: FAKE CERTIFICATES GROUP (WORST)

Some universities in the country have tightened their systems so well that, some of these issues discussed above are either eradicated or brought to its barest minimum. Students, therefore, find it very difficult to cut corners as the avenues are not many.

The university ends up building a strong reputation for quality assurance and builds a good image. In the end, every student will like to have a certificate from such a university. Obviously, they cannot have it through the right process if they are not serious. This forces some unscrupulous students to hit on their graphic design skills and try to imitate the original certificates they could not get from the university. Universities have less control over this.

In the final analysis, if they are not caught, they hold fake certificates they have no knowledge to justify.

So who suffers?

a)  Ignorant Graduates

My dear students, there is nothing more painful than holding a certificate you cannot justify. I have seen people at interviews (as a panellist) who claim to have degrees (sometimes post-graduate degrees) that they can’t justify. They get so embarrassed that the room becomes too small for them. Those of you working, all your workmates are aware that there no knowledge in your head. That was why they were laughing when you invited them to your graduation. There is nothing more shameful than:

•         An accountant who cannot balance his books

•         A Software Engineer who cannot develop a single software

•         A graphic designer who has designed nothing in his life

•         An electrical engineer who knows nothing about engineering etc

You may think you are the smartest today, but it will be too late when nemesis finally catches you up.

For your own image and future, EARN YOUR DEGREES.

b)  Lecturers and University Administrators

‘Good name is better than Riches’. Let that be your guide. You think you are helping the students and they are grateful? You are very ignorant. They are actually insulting you in their rooms as the cheapest commodity they have ever bought. You have sold your conscience, dignity and future career for some few shillings or thirty minutes of pleasure.

You are destroying your career and the future of your children. Every university graduate remembers his or her good and bad lecturers and administrators. They will use you as an example for their colleagues and children when talking about the cheapest commodity they ever bought in school and the most useless people they have ever met in their lives.

Be strong, firm and fair. Don’t be enticed by money or gifts, sexual harassments etc. The students will pretend they hate you just to mess you up. They are hypocrites. In their hearts, you are the best and most honest person they have ever met. Keep it up and protect your career and future. The students will be thanking you later. But in doing so, show respect for students, treat them fairly and be nice to everyone.


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