A draft Public Universities Bill submitted to the public universities for their input has elicited mixed reactions from a section of the public and stakeholders, including some university lecturers.
While some of the stakeholders contend that the bill seeks to take away academic freedom and the autonomy of public universities, the Ministry of Education says the reactions are premature because the document is only a draft and not even at the stage of a bill.
The ministry said the document was only to allow the input of lecturers before the bill was presented to Parliament.
The Head of Public Relations of the Ministry of Education, Mr Ekow Vincent Assafuah, described the reactions as politically motivated, adding that whether it was at the level of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) or the Parliamentary Select Committee, “we think it is wrong to have leaked the document out”.
He wondered why some of the universities resorted to social and traditional media, instead of putting their concerns on paper, as requested, saying, for instance, that the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) and the University for Development Studies (UDS) had already submitted their concerns.
Justification for the bill
Mr Assafuah explained that the draft bill was part of the educational reforms by the Ministry of Education to harmonise public universities, just as it was in the case of the colleges of education and the technical universities.
He explained that the expected law was particularly necessary, as some of the laws governing the public universities were outmoded, citing the one for the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) which dated back to 1961.
“They cannot just meet contemporary demand as a public university in the 21st century, and even for the ones that are a bit recent, there are quite a number of provisions that are missing in their laws,” he explained.
He again wondered how promotion to the status of a professor in two public universities should differ, citing, for example, that it took nine publications in KNUST for one to be promoted as an associate professor, while the University of Ghana might require 20 publications.
Mr Assafuah said he was disappointed with parliamentarians who were also commenting on the draft bill, since they would have all the opportunity to make inputs when the bill was presented to the House.
He said after the input from the universities, the bill would be sent to the Cabinet and that it was possible that some of the clauses could be deleted and new ones introduced.
Denial of academic freedom
But a Political Science lecturer at the University of Ghana, Prof. Yaw Gyampo, on traditional and social media platforms, contended that the move was an attempt by the government to deny public universities academic freedom.
He said his preliminary reading of the proposed law pointed clearly to an attempt by the Executive to control the administration of public universities, a move he described as totalitarian.
“Per the draft bill I have read, the government is seeking to reduce the composition of public university councils from the average of 15 to nine.
“With this number, the government wants to appoint more people than other constituents. This is the first step at mortgaging the independence and freedom of academic institutions,” Prof. Gyampo contended.
He was of the belief that such a move would relapse independent minds into a culture of silence.
A former Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Tertiary Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, in a statement, said a careful consideration of the provisions in the draft bill portrayed “a desperate authoritarian agenda to assail the pillars of insulation and thereby blatantly interfere with the management of our higher institutions of learning, in flagrant violation of Article 21 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana”.
Backing his claims with specific clauses of the bill, he said Clause 3(1) sought to give the President power to appoint a majority of five members of a proposed nine-member governing council.
He contended that the proposal would successfully place the university councils and, by logical extension, the entire university, under political control.
Speaking to journalists in Accra, a ranking member on the Education Committee of Parliament, Mr Peter Nortsu, said the committee would kick against sections of the policy which undermined the autonomy of public universities.
“If it is so, it is an attempt by the government to control the management of public universities, which is not the best. It is going to take away that autonomy or freedom from the universities, so the universities are going to be managed like senior high schools.
“When it comes in its entirety, we will look at it, and where it aims at making the government control the universities, we will kick against it,” he added.
A former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, said the draft bill, in its current form, would stifle initiative and politicise the universities.
He said it would take away any incentive for Ghanaian public universities to seek to be innovative and progressive, adding: “It is designed to stifle initiative and politicise universities under the full control of the Minister of Education.”
- Agya Koo’s new plush mansion which got social media talking
- 50 people injured after accident involving 4 cars on Kasoa-Weija road
- Encourage acquisition, mergers of banks and NBFIs if needed – IMF tells government
- Assin North by-election: EC denies NDC’s accusation of inserting candidate’s name in voters register
- 2023 AFCONQ: Inaki Williams withdraws from Black Stars squad to face Madagascar
- Read Supreme Court’s full judgement in Gyakye Quayson case
- 2023 AFCONQ: Asamoah Gyan expresses ‘worry’ about Black Stars squad for Madagascar clash
- June 4 uprising occurred for far less than what is happening in Ghana today – Mahama
- Agotime Ziope DCE attacks NPP’s Dzifa Kaledzi; leaves her with an eye injury
- ‘I can’t believe I am here’ – Tariq Lamptey on his first start at the World Cup for Ghana
- Bonn Climate Change Conference: AGN pushes adaptation measures for women and youth
- Toptech Ghana to provide ISO certified defensive driving course for corporate and VIP drivers
- Persons who invade or attack AngloGold Ashanti will be arrested and prosecuted – Abu Jinapor
- Let’s review the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme-GIRSAL to MoFA
- Engr. ERIC ATTA-SONNO: Is the Ghanaian Media still the Fourth Estate of the Realm?
- GEA, World Bank to support 150 PWD Enterprises with ¢12m to grow their businesses
- 2023 ECOWAS Festival: Queen Mother urges African leaders to use culture as a tool to achieve African unity
- People called me names for trying to extend law school to Kumasi – Kwaku Ansa-Asare
- Disregard reported increase in HIV cases in Ho – Ghana Health Service
- I laid the foundation for lawyers to be licensed in Ghana – Kwaku Ansa-Asare
- World Environment Day: Ghana’s road medians turned spaces for garbage and weedy sand mounds
- Gov’t committed to protecting Anglogold Ashanti’s concessions, curbing illegal activities – Jinapor
- Why Wendy Shay is calling some artistes “thieves”
- Chris Hughton calls up Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer to replace injured Inaki Williams
- Socialite Van Calebs criticises popular comedians for offensive jokes