THE government has secured 78 million dollars from the World Bank to improve education in the country as part of an Education Sector Project.
Of this, 33.4 million dollars has been apportioned to the tertiary education sub-sector to be operated as a Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund.
Private tertiary institutions with a minimum of three years accreditation are eligible to two per cent of the amount available each year.
The Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Papa Owusu Ankomah, announced in a speech read on his behalf at a ceremony to hand over the chairmanship of the Conference of Heads of Private Universities of Ghana (CHPUG) from Professor Victor P.Y.Gadzekpo of the Central University College to Dr.Patrick Awuah of Ashesi University in Accra yesterday.
Mr. Ankomah noted that enrolment in public universities increased by 132 per cent from 36,221 in 1999/2000 to 84,078 in 2005/2006 academic year.
He said figures from the National Council for Tertiary Education indicated that between 1996/1997 and 2003/2004, the percentage of applicants admitted into the universities in Ghana ranged from 25 per cent to 40 per cent thereby turning away a large majority of the people who qualified for higher education.
'A public university built for 3,000 students is currently coping with about 28,000 without corresponding expansion in academic and physical facilities, overstretching existing facilities to their elastic limits,' he pointed out.
Mr. Ankomah said it is estimated that within the next 10 years over 55 per cent of academic staff of the institutions of higher learning would reach their mandatory retirement age of 60.
He therefore urged private universities to train more faculties to take up those positions.
He lauded the private universities for helping to expand educational opportunities to more Ghanaians and offering career-oriented and job related programmes which he said is important in an era where unemployment is increasingly becoming a concern.
He, however, expressed concern that not much research is carried out in private universities as they are pre-occupied with addressing teething problems.
Research, he said is central to the work of a university that 'it is often acknowledged as the hallmark of the university as it helps to retune faculty and to train academic professional staff'.
The Minister indicated that one way of encouraging research is the establishment of a research fund to be made available to both private and public institutions. 'Government ministries and agencies must also be encouraged to commission research which could be undertaken by faculties from public and private institutions,' he added.
He acknowledged the high cost of affiliation to other universities and the delays in processing applications for affiliation, saying such obstacles can indeed frustrate the efforts of new institutions.