Professor Kwesi Yankah, the Minister of State for Tertiary Education, has urged universities to rebrand distance learning as part of efforts to bring education closer to the people.
'The time is long overdue to indeed rebrand distance learning in Ghana.'
'I hereby urge universities to tap steps to arrest the perception of low standard output from distance education programmes, and urge the National Accreditation Board to tighten its vigilance to ensure the maintenance of quality and standards in distance learning,' he added.
Prof. Yankah said this on Friday at a Durbar and Colloquium of the College of Education, University of Ghana (UG), in Accra, as part of activities marking the 70th Anniversary Celebration of the University.
It was on the theme: 'Celebrating Excellence, Shaping Futures'.
Prof. Yankah said all over the years, distance learning had been successfully adopted the world over 'to increase access and make learning flexible for candidates far and near, defying distance, defying time zones and defying social and economic circumstances.'
'It has produced some of the greatest men in history, but it has also been noted to be liable to exploitation and gross abuse in this part of the world.'
He called for the plugging of the loopholes to improve images, stating that 'distance learning may be one important channel that could help the country to cope with the overwhelming influx of senior high school graduates likely to knock on the doors of universities, as from 2020'.
On admission of mature students, Prof. Yankah said: 'If mature students' exams for entry to university should be taken more seriously, they should, perhaps, be standardised across board and administered by one credible examining body just like WASSCE (West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination), rather than administered by respective universities using different standards'.
'It is long overdue for the mature student access exam to be rebranded. Yes, we may be in hurry as a nation to revitalise our human resource base in order to effectively drive national development. But we cannot afford schemes that lead to the registration of great strides in enrolment ratios and at the same time make a negative impact on the quality of national productivity.'
He said: 'This is a message that goes to all universities and tertiary institutions, but it should be embraced enthusiastically by pioneering institutions celebrating milestones such as the UG, where a deterioration may have a cascading effect on the rest.'
He urged the University's Management to be guided by the parting words of its first Principal, David Balme, 60 years ago: 'I do believe, and it is now beyond doubt, that we can make this a first rate university…. If Ghana gets any second rate or bogus institution, let it not be the one at Legon'.
Prof. Yankah said: '60 years on, let this caution keep echoing in the corridors of the College of Education and the University, encouraging us to keep the banner flying'.
Prof. Samuel Kwame Offei, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Students Affairs, UG, said the University had, since its inception, remained a leader in research into societal problems, and trained thousands of students at various levels, who were contributing in various ways to national and worldwide development.
He said the University aimed to align the curricula of its programmes to meet the needs of industry and to provide solutions for knowledge creation, and the introduction of new skills and technologies.
Prof Michael Tagoe, the Acting Provost, College of Education, UG, said the philosophy of establishing the College of Education was to improve upon the training and, therefore, the quality of teachers at all levels of the educational sector.
'It is in this respect that the School of Education and Leadership is planning to establish a Centre of Excellence for Teaching, Learning and Innovation to drive research at the basic school level and also shape policies in Ghana,' he said.
Dr Joyce Aryee, an Advisory Council Member, College of Education, UG, who chaired the function, congratulated the University on its 70th Anniversary.
She said it was important that as the University marked the 70th Anniversary, it reflected on its successes, learning experiences, and think of how it could continue to be relevant and improve upon its achievements.