“We have not failed the nation” The Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Rev Prof Adow-Obeng, at the weekend described as unfortunate, the “negative comments” from sections of the public that the nation's Universities have failed in producing the right calibre of human resources needed to prosecute the nation's development agenda.
“The Universities have not failed the nation. If anything at all, it is the Ghanaian public that have failed the Universities,” he contended when he addressed the 5th matriculation of Distance Education students of the University at the weekend. The nation's public universities have recently come under a barrage of criticisms from sections of the public for what is seen as their failure to turn out products that possess the skills and acumen needed to tackle the developmental problems confronting the nation.
But Rev Adow-Obeng thinks the criticisms are unjustifiable, as the nation as a whole has not demonstrated enough commitment towards the development of the Universities. “For over 30 years, the Universities have been starved of funds, which has currently resulted in lack of adequate infrastructure to cope with the increasing number of students on our campuses,” he lamented.
The Vice Chancellor added that it has now become an uncommon thing for Government to provide funds for research, except the Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund which has a different objective. “The personal emoluments are released late, and in some cases are less than the level of commitment of the university. It is common knowledge that parents and guardians are prepared to pay so much for the education of their children and wards at the nursery basic and secondary levels, but any suggestion to introduce fee of some kind at the University level has been fiercely opposed, Prof Obeng decried, adding “it would be unreasonable to expect quality with such an attitudes.”
The Vice Chancellor further took a swipe at the nation's industries for their unpreparedness to take on students for internship, as well as their reluctance to provide scholarships for students or provide financial support to graduate students to do research.
Touching on the issue of personnel, Rev Adow-Obeng observed; “The Universities have been starved of staff and it is until recently that the present government has worked out a salary structure that in some three years time may see adequate enhancement in the salaries of lecturers. We are now beginning to see a gradual pull of young lecturers into the Universities.”
The Vice Chancellor therefore argued that it would be unjustifiable for the Universities to be accused of failure to meet the nation's needs when they have not been provided with what it takes to deliver effectively. “All that is being said is that you need adequate funds to ensure that Universities deliver on their mandate,” he stated, calling for the concerted efforts and maximum cooperation from the general public to ensure effective delivery.
The Distance Education programme, which commenced five years ago, now has a total student population of 12,500. Patronage has been increasing yearly. The number of this year's matriculates, 5,285, represents a 48% increase over last year's figure.
The increasing number of students, according to Prof Obeng calls for a review of the mode of delivery of the programme as the University cannot continue to rely on its current mode of delivery of print-based tutorials. The University is, therefore in the process of forging a collaboration with ZTE Corporation, a Chinese IT firm, to assist in the establishment of resource centres with internet and teleconferencing facilities in all the study centres to facilitate teaching and learning.