Parliament has passed the controversial Public Universities Bill (PUB). However, the respected Ghanaian educationist, Counsellor Daniel Fenyi has described the Bill as a "serious political attack" on tertiary education.
Even though the Bill currently awaits Presidential assent and some 'optional' recommendations from the Parliamentary select committee on education, Counsellor has outlined some of the obvious implications of the Bill when it is fully operationalised
1. Universities in Ghana would be governed by a 16 member University Council. 9 of the 16 members will be government appointees, directly or indirectly.
2. Immediately the Bill is passed, all current University Councils of all the universities in Ghana will automatically turn into "INTERIM" councils. In other words, all existing councils will automatically be "dissolved" at the pass of the bill (to make way for government to start its CONTROL immediately)
3. The 9 government appointees of the Governing Council can meet and take decisions on behalf of the entire council. And that decision shall be binding. You know the implications, right?
3. The President shall appoint or determine who to become the Chancellor of every university. This means, Chancellorship shall now be a preserve of only card bearing members of the Ruling party.
4. Also, to be Vice Chancellor, forget about intelligence or merit. You must be a strongly known card bearing member of the ruling party. In other words, Universities shall be ruled by politicians or party faithfuls and not necessarily technocrats or intelligent people.
5. The President can "sack" the Vice Chancellor and "dissolve" the University Council at any time. He just has to declare some "emergency" and use that to "sack" them.
6. University Promotions will be based on party lines. Don't forget that the governing council must approve all promotions and 9 of them are party faithfuls. Therefore, if you're a known NDC lecturer and NPP is in power, forget about your promotion (for at least 8 years, if our historical election pattern maintains) and vice versa.
7. The Minister of Education can just stand up one day and merge LEGON and KNUST into one university. Yes, that's the extent of power he has under the Bill.
8. Before a university can form a department, faculty, college, institute, etc, it must seek the approval of the Minister, even if he is medical doctor and has no understanding of university management and operations.
9. Lecturers, Professors and other researchers in the Universities can no longer conduct "very balanced" research. If the outcome of ones research does not "favour" or it's "against" the ruling government, those lecturers can be "sacked" or "punished". The Political Science departments of all our Universities must therefore be ready to conduct "party" research.
10. SRC and GRASAG positions and elections in the Universities will strictly become an NDC/NPP thing. Because, each party would like to increase it's membership on the board and SRC/GRASAG Presidents are part of the board.
11. Only SSCE/WASSCE holders can have access to university Education. Currently, people without SSCE/WASSCE can pursue university education through mature entrance (in both public and private universities) but the new Bill will abolish this system.
12. SHS graduates will be "posted" to the universities just like it's done at the BECE or JHS level. Under this Bill, an SHS graduate who wants to go to university will buy one application form and select about 4/5 schools or programmes, then "computer" will place him/her at any of his choice.
13. Point 12 means that, SHS graduates with aggregates 45, 50 or even 60 and worst can now be "posted" to pursue Medicine, Law, Engineering, etc in the Universities. Just as JHS leavers with such "bad" aggregates are now pursuing Science at Achimota, Mfantsipim, Holyco, Prempeh, etc. You know the future implications of this, right?
13. NO single part of the New Bill is good. Any lecturer or University officer or citizen who supports it must be very careful. Very soon, and in fact, very soon, you might be at the "receiving" end of this Cancer. Everybody must rise against this Bill.
Counsellor Daniel Fenyi is a Counsellor and Educationist. He is a Member of the Ghana National Association of Certificated Counsellors (GNACC).