NUGS Resists Government’s attempt to Control Public Universities
The National Union Of Ghana Students (NUGS) has learnt with shock the retrogressive decision by the government to place all public universities directly under it’s authority through a recently drafted bill awaiting parliamentary procedures to become law.
We consider this a threat to academic freedom because government has no business in having outright control over public universities. In the wake of the recent skirmishes and politically induced disturbances on our university campuses as witnessed in KNUST and more recently at the University of Education Winneba, political control in our educational sector is not the answer to the teething challenges confronting the sector.
First of all, it is not clear what purpose the law intends to serve. Since the individual Acts establishing these schools coupled with their statutes are laws enough for smooth administration of these institutions.
The draft bill in it’s current state is at best an apology as it is riddled with inconsistencies, and provisions that do not conform to the principle of constitutionalism.
A few highlights from the drafted bill sets this in context; 1) Clause 3(1), which seeks to give the President powers to appoint a majority of five members of a proposed nine member governing council.
This proposal will successfully place the University Councils and by extension the entire university under political control. If this is allowed, university authorities who espouse views which may be at variance with the ruling party risk endangering their academic careers since Clause 5(h) requires the new politically controlled Councils to approve professorial level appointments.
2) Clause 3(5) grants the President sweeping powers to dissolve and reconstitute governing councils at his discretion in cases of “emergencies.” The bill however failed to define what should be considered as “emergency” With this definition consciously missing, this move will only create fertile grounds for abuse and a further attack on university councils especially in times when council decisions are at variance with that of government.
The destruction this bill encompasses is not limited to just the above examples but other ill-fated sections that would only place the future of students in the hands of some selfish individuals working in their parochial interest, as seen in clauses 24, 34, 35 and 42.
This only further buttresses the raging concerns about the enormous powers vested in the executive President in a manner that opposes constitutionalism.
The National Union of Ghana Students wishes to condemn this move by government in no uncertain terms and advise that, the bill as informally seen shouldn’t be laid before parliament for any considerations.
Moving forward, just as government was able to consitute a committee to look into the challenges facing our currency, we are in the same spirit proposing a much wider stakeholder consultation and a further nonpartisan stakeholders’ conference where undiluted suggestions would be assembled on the way forward as far as the regulation of Public Universities are concerned for the utmost interest and welfare of all Ghanaians.
The largest students movement in Ghana wishes to finally call on politicians to halt politicizing the future of the thousands of Ghanaian students whose future is hinged on their policies and decisions. Ghanaian students deserve better than their insatiable quest to score cheap political points.
Walker Obeng Darkoh
Press & Info. Secretary
Gombilla S. Mohammed