Akufo-Addo’s bogus Draft Public Universities Bill – Mahama ‘Come for your Stone’
According to the government’s own report, the race for university admission is expected to heighten next year when about 400,000 Free SHS beneficiaries are expected to complete school and seek for university admission. Apart from this figure, there is a backlog of students seeking admission into the tertiary institutions. The other critical issue is the pressure on SHS graduates outside the FSHS programme to secure admission into the public and private tertiary institutions. They are going to compete with the over 400,000 SHS graduates the public secondary schools are going to churn out for limited spaces in our tertiary institutions. B&FT’s analysis of University admission revealed there is already a reduction of intake admission by major universities in the country, largely due to limited space to accommodate the students.
Free secondary education is no doubt one of the most important aspects of a country’s economic prospects. The previous administration adopted the pace enshrined in the constitution (progressively free) to avoid the challenges we witnessing. Free education opens up institutions for everyone to access. It creates the problem of overcrowding since most people will be admitted. The overcrowding caused by the free education means that students will be forced to use the already limited resources. This end up causing strain on the resources which may not be enough.
The previous administration adopted the progressively free approach because of these obvious problems. Free education may be free for the students but is charged to the government. Government is forced to keep borrowing money to finance the programme. Government has introduced certain taxes via the backdoor to help it finance the programme. The system is fraught with problems; inadequate teaching space and materials, shortage of teachers and inadequate and late disbursement of government funds. Academic performance standards are deteriorating, and the education being universal, students are just pushed through.
Government has prepared the Universities draft bill because of the obvious crisis. It wants to have absolute control over the universities to enable it control admission in the universities.
If the draft bill becomes law, government will have substantially increased legislative powers over our universities and will automatically have unlimited influence over admission and other administrative issues in our universities. If it becomes law, government can easily and comfortably manipulate our universities authorities, lecturers and students to succumb to its whims and caprices. Our universities must have autonomy from all extraneous influences in order to govern and manage their academic, administrative and financial functions. In particular, our universities must have autonomy to develop their academic programmes, recruit, assess, and develop their faculty, and select and train their students. Government, per this bogus draft bill is seeking for powers from parliament to wipe off all these core duties and responsibilities to enable it introduce its partisan policies.
We are where we are because of the hypocritical stance some persons in the academia took when this government started terrorising the education sector with its outmoded concepts.
Former President John Mahama, former lecturers, and Pro and Vice Chancellors have stressed the need for a broader discussion on how to fund and manage the Free SHS policy- because the problems we witnessing. Apart from the overcrowding and pressure it is exerting on our limited resources, we must also look at the issue of unemployment. Free education may also work against the system in that there will be a high number of graduates leaving school while the industry offers much less employment opportunities. This ends up creating unemployment.
Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow