Public Universities Bill is Retrogressive, drop it – GAAS to Gov’t

Public Universities Bill is Retrogressive, drop it – GAAS to Gov’t

The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) has joined calls for the government to abandon the passage and introduction of the Public Universities Bill into law for purposes of governing higher learning institutions in Ghana.

The bill which is currently before parliament pending approval has been widely opposed by stakeholders in the education sector and a section of parliamentarians.

Though the government has stated it’s reasons for introducing the bill for passage into law which includes regulation of public universities in a better way and to ensure Transparency, Accountability and Efficiency on a well-structured governance architecture and legal framework, many stakeholders in the education sector have argued that the bill will give way for political interference, take away academic freedom and the autonomy of public universities.

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The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences which is the latest to join the opposition to the bill in a position statement said: “It is the considered view of the Academy that the Public University Bill, 2020 is unnecessary and likely to set the institutions several decades back. The approach to higher education governance envisioned in Bill flies in the face of accumulated knowledge on the growth of universities worldwide and current global trends toward differentiation and diversification”.

The Academy stated further that: Ghana needs a differentiated and diversified, but not necessarily hierarchical, university system, to offer the flexibility needed to address the changing needs of students and nations in an increasingly competitive and uncertain world. The Bill is also

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not in conformity with the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and is likely to be retrogressive, rather than enhancing what Ghanaian universities have achieved over the years”.

In a response to some reasons stated for the introduction of the bill as captured in some portions of the document before parliament, the GAAS said it is not clear how the new law will address the issues of financial improprieties and whipping public universities back onto the path of discipline.

“There is no indication that the current laws governing the operations of public universities contribute to poor management and governance at the institutions. Neither is there any evidence that the existing laws lead to inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the conduct of the public university business. In any case, and most importantly, if such an attribution could be made, there is no reason to believe that the offending part of the respective law could not be amended as appropriate”.

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Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Builsa South constituency Dr. Clement Apaak has described the bill as needless and not designed to fix any of the challenges public universities face but crafted to give the executive arm of government absolute control over our public universities.

The lawmaker who doubles as a member of parliament’s select committee on education said opposition to the bill is organic and resolute and therefore must be dropped.

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