Last week I chanced upon a certificate making rounds on various social media platforms with an attached message claiming that it was used by a kebab seller to wrap kebab for a customer. That is quite strange an occurrence, but it is also good it was only a mere certified copy but not the original of the certificate. In all truth, when I first saw the certificate, I dismissed and described it as fake, for various reasons, even though I discovered later that it was authentically awarded by my Alma mater, the University of Cape Coast, College of Distance Education (UCC -CoDE). Honestly, I was disappointed upon finding out that it was not a fake certificate after all. Later in the week, I chanced upon an article authored by one Counsellor Daniel Fenyi published on mynewsghana.com as well as circulated widely on various social media platforms which effectively outlined some views I strongly shared about the sub-standard nature of some of the programmes UCC –CoDEran: the very reasons why I was disappointed at the revelation that the certificate I saw making rounds on social media was indeed authentic.
In Counsellor Fenyi’s submission, he made the point that the College accepts lower requirements for admission into the Distance Programmes whereas higher requirements are demanded for admission into corresponding programmes for regular students. I did my fact-checking and realised that this assertion is not entirely true. It is true that some students with low grades in their WASSCE sometimes find their way into programmes at CoDE but students using solely such certificates are made to undertake an access programme, take entrance exams and eventually get admitted into the CoDE to pursue distance Diploma Programmes. As for those who may get the opportunity of pursuing degree programmes, they normally would have to possess a Diploma as a fundamental requirement for admission into any degree programme in which they may only need their WASSCE/SSSCE as a supporting requirement. Therefore, I may have to accept the fact that the system has not been, in any way, compromised just yet, when it comes to requirements for gaining admission into the UCC CoDE to pursue tertiary programmes.
However, I agree, absolutely, with the Counsellor on his second point about specialisation issues arising from some of the programmes mounted and the certificate awarded which would hamper one’s chances of gaining employment as a result of unclear area of specialisation. He pointed out that the situation does not happen in the mainstream school, but strictly at the CoDE, which is absolutely true. I seek to throw more light on this point, though. Take for instance, the certificate in question which I said early on gained wide publicity in the past week. It showed that the awardee was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Education (Psychology and Foundations of Education) with a third class in English. So, I wondered how such a programme would ever exist without my notice because I studied at the UCC’s College of Education Studies and specifically at the Faculty of Educational Foundations, Department of Psychology. I was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. I never met or heard about anybody pursuing such a programme as the one captured in the viral certificate. That certificate depicts a classical case of clear amalgamation of faculty and different departments to create a programme which is obviously aimed at making money rather than solving problems. That is not what a university should be doing but the vice versa. And I am saying this because the programme has no correspondence even at the regular level, and I still believe it is not also a programme found in any other university both home and abroad. There is therefore the danger of mounting programmes and training alumni whose specialization is limited to only the CoDE. So how will such product be recognised by any entity as authentic professionals? The only field they can operate with such qualifications is the teaching field which has, more or less, been made the dumping ground of all manner of certificates including fake certificates. Indeed, the development is the root cause of the ‘sub-standardness’ in Ghana’s Education Sector. The UCC must note that any certificate that bears their name as awarder also goes ahead to tell the world that whatever standards and fruits that are associated with the awardee were imbued in them by you. It does not matter the mode, means and/or nature of the training and programmes they received from you so you must consciously guard your image jealously or compromise it.
Then again, there is also the issue of the quality and standards possessed by lecturers employed to provide tuition at the CoDE-UCC. Highly despicable! It is an open secret to all enlightened people that the minimum requirement for anybody seeking to work as a lecturer in this country and beyond is a PhD. So why is CoDE engaging and using the services of non-PhD holders for tuition and Research Supervisors for diplomas and undergraduates? Which serious university does that? I know that, in some cases, the degree holders in the system do not teach undergraduates but rather diplomas but please, be reminded, UCC that there are standards set for all universities the world over to operate with. Make sure you stick to the standards because anything that is worth doing is worth doing well. You must maintain discipline in all your dealings if you are serious about meeting the standards set by the system. Serious universities operate within their own means. They do not prioritise money making ventures at the expense of setting standards. They are more concerned about achieving their core mandate which is to adduce solutions to problems. Make sure you have enough qualified staff before admitting students to programmes and avoid engaging the services of sub-standard lecturers who will mostly produce sub-standard results as in products for the job market to reject. Think about this again, UCC -CoDE!
I have made a painful observation that the regard that people reserved for UCC products of yesteryears has made way for disrespect for today’s products. Has anyone else noticed it? There used to be some prestige associated with being an UCC alumnus but all that has evaded. Why? It is because of the design of the current crop of UCC management riding on the back of that established prestige reaping where they have not sown. The attention has shifted to making money rather than maintaining and sustaining standards. It has virtually become the UCC’s bane. The effect is that there are too many programmes being mounted by the University in spite of the limited resources available to them. It leads to resorting to lowly accommodation options such as running a University in SHS classrooms, and having too many students and consequently too many products in the system, consequently, having to resort to half baked human resources for the task of imparting knowledge, and lastly struggling to effectively supervise and monitor the activities of the many extensions, etc. All these problems listed will cause your certificate to be ordinary because there will be too many of your graduates in the system so where will the prestige that used to be attached to the certificate come from again? Under such circumstances too, there can be a fertile ground for certificates to be forged. Probably the most annoying consequence yet is the many sub-standard graduates flooding the system. A lot of them know next to nothing yet are quick to proudly announce their link with the UCC. It is a serious headache.
If it is doable and well within your means, CoDE-UCC, especially, should reduce the number of campuses they run to a manageable number and limit their operations to just the Colleges of Education. This will ensure and effectively solve two things. First they will make use of lecturers in the Colleges of Education, a lot of whom are very much up to standard for the task. And, secondly, technically lift up the prestige attached to the programmes as tertiary. The current situation where people see it as that ordinary is down to the venues for tuition (SHS) which will be done away with if only CoE campuses are made to host lectures. I also believe that it will surely be in the best interest of the UCC to ensure that there exists some consistency in the programmes they mount, mode of education notwithstanding. Do not mount virtually useless programmes that nobody needs in the system just because you think it will rack up some huge sums of monies for the institution. If that happens, then you are actually selling out your birth right. The fall of a great man, our elders usually insist, is never the end of his life. I know the Great University of Cape Coast, if, is down, will be back on its feet sooner than later to pick up from where it is now. Veritas Nobis Lumen!
David Angangmwin Baganiah