The Ministry of Education has drafted before Parliament a new Public Universities Bill that is looking to fundamentally change the constitution of public universities but there are so many problems in there that Ghanaians need to be concerned about.
Every Ghanaian, at least those interested in education and development, must be concerned about the new Public Universities Bill the government is trying to push through.
The bill seeks to legalise new ways by which public universities may be set up. The bill also proposes an overhauling of the management body of public universities.
The 48-clause bill proposes among others, a chairperson nominated by the president. There will also be four members of the university council appointed by the president.
But the new bill also wants to give the president the right to dissolve the council at any time the president feels there is good reason to do so. And that is the point at which we enumerate the problems with this new bill.
1. With the bill, any governing party can decide what is "appropriate" in a university
University education is supposed to challenge students into forming durable independent thoughts. As such, there is a need to maintain an environment that allows people to think for themselves.
But with the proposal the government is putting up, political parties in power can decide the direction in which to take university resources.
Also, you would have to imagine a situation where a group of students and/or lecturers are visibly anti-government. What do you think will happen to them?
2. Giving the president the right to dissolve a university council is too much power
The style of Ghana's democratic government is what is referred to as the executive system. The head of state and government wields the power in deciding the fate of virtually everyone and everything.
As a matter of fact, political scientists and philosophers will tell you that it does not make sense to give a president more power than they necessarily need. That is the road to moral and political corruption.
A president's singular decision to dissolve a university council is not power they need.
3. The control government wants to wield over universities is misguided
Like any undergraduate or postgraduate researcher can tell you, there is always the point where you wonder if your research would be applicable in real life or whether it will sit on the shelf and catch dirt.
If our governments are really interested in creating healthy and meaningful universities, they need to make researches useful. It does not make sense to have universities you do not listen to.
The government's attempt to control university administration is misguided. University scholarly output is where the energy needs to be.
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4. The university is not a wing agency of government
If you carefully go through the Public Universities Bill proposed by the Akufo-Addo government, you would think that the people in power feel as if the university is a wing agency of government.
Like the way in which they would control the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) for instance, the government is bringing a similar understanding to their relationship with public universities.
This is bad and wrong. You cannot treat a university like an agency that needs to meet your business and political expectations lest you start churning out zombie-like graduates.
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