The University of Ghana (UG), Legon branch of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), has reiterated its stance against the Public Universities Bill (PUB) currently before Parliament, describing it as “an imminent danger to our institutions of higher education.”
It said the Bill, if passed, would have the potential to irreparably damage the country’s global standing as a pillar of democratic governance in Africa.
A member of the UG-UTAG Committee on the PUB set up by the university, Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo, addressing a press conference yesterday at Legon said, “our objections are that the PUB is unconstitutional, unnecessary and will create more problems than it claims to solve.”
NEC of UTAG
However, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of UTAG has dissociated itself from the press conference by the UG-UTAG branch.
A statement jointly signed by the President and Secretary of the NEC of the UTAG, Prof Charles Marfo and Dr. Eric K. K. Abavare respectively, as well as the presidents of seven of the public universities said the NEC of UTAG, which was made up of all elected executives of the 10 branches, wished to inform the general public that “the said intended event has not been sanctioned by the body.”
The statement recalled that at the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), Ho, on September 10, 2020, the NEC voted against the holding of any such press conference by any branch in the name of UTAG.
“We want to place on record that all four elected Branch Executives of UTAG-UG were present at the said meeting,” the statement emphasised.
Asked of her comment on the said statement, Prof Ampofo said she was unable to comment on it because the UG-UTAG was not privy to the said statement.
Position of President
Prof Ampofo recalled that in an interview on a local FM radio station in Accra, the President conceded that “valid criticisms” had been brought against the PUB, and said that those would be reviewed.
“However, the President ultimately concluded that the basic thrust of the Bill and the rationale for it was incontestable.
“With this press conference, UG-UTAG is, in fact, contesting the very basis of the Bill and calling for it to be completely withdrawn,” Prof Ampofo said.
Prof Ampofo recalled that though in that interview, the President conceded that the issue of the University Councils in the Bill required a second look, “he did not indicate whether or not these clauses would be totally removed or merely tweaked.”
In a solidarity message, the Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement of the CDD, Dr. Kojo Asanti, recalled that when the bill was brought to Parliament, the Centre submitted a memo to the Education Committee of Parliament requesting it to take a serious look at the bill.
He was surprised that even though there was a number of objections to the bill, “however, to be frank, what surprises all of us is that the bill has not been withdrawn.”
For his part, a Senior Research Fellow at the IDEG, Mr. Kwesi Jonah, said the IDEG also submitted a memo to the committee, stating that the bill, if enacted, “will have the effect of eroding the autonomy of public universities, which they have historically fought with courage and determination,” adding that the autonomy of public universities was crucial to the effective discharge of the teaching and research functions of the universities.