I will fight ‘bogus’ draft of Public Universities Bill with my blood – Prof Gyampo vows

I will fight ‘bogus’ draft of Public Universities Bill with my blood – Prof Gyampo vows

Attempts by the government to regulate academic activities in public universities through a bill that is yet to be passed has met strong opposition fr

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Attempts by the government to regulate academic activities in public universities through a bill that is yet to be passed has met strong opposition from educationists.

Head of the Department of European Studies at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Yaw Gyampo, has openly declared his stance against Public Universities Bill by the Ministry of Education which is currently in the draft stage.

The Public Universities Bill according to the Ministry of Education will provide the procedure for the establishment of Public Universities, principles of management of Public universities, the legal status of Public universities, the procedure for financing Public universities and administration and supervision of the activities of Public universities and related matters.

Since the release of the draft, the Political Science lecturer who has had the opportunity to go through the document has been explaining that the bill is an attempt by the government to take charge and control academic freedom in public universities across the country.

“Per the draft bill I have read, the government is seeking to reduce the composition of the Public University Councils from the average of 15 to 9. With this number, the government wants to appoint more people than other constituents. This is the first step at mortgaging the independence and freedom of academic institutions. With a government controlled Council, people critical of government can be dealt with in any way. This would relapse independent minds into a culture of silence,” Prof. Gyampo insists in a series of posts on his Facebook page.

His comments have attracted a reaction from the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Education, Vincent Asaffuah,  who also wrote that “…Now, this is a draft submitted to all universities in Ghana to make their INPUTS and CONCERNS known so that, it becomes a working document for all stakeholders. It is therefore obvious that, we are just at the consultation level seeking to bring all stakeholders together and get their inputs.

He added, “So, Mr Professor, where from this allegation of totalitarianism? Remember, we are not obliged by any law to submit a draft to you before sending it to parliament for approval, however, out of good faith and humility, we see it as good practice. So may you please make your input rather your attempt of getting some fame out of this through social media? The document is right in front of you, let your voice be heard!”

In response to the PRO’s statement, Prof Gyampo said, “On the draft bill, I find it insulting that you guys drafted a document that seeks to undermine our academic freedom and yet want us to discuss. That’s disrespectful. Were you thinking we weren’t going to read and scrutinize?”

“You lack understanding about the concept of Representation, else you won’t tell me government doesn’t owe us a duty to submit a draft bill for our input. Read the works of Hanna Pitkin on Representation, to educate yourself about when a government, though elected, MUST consult,” he stressed.

Read Prof. Gyampo’s statement below

Folks, my real position on the bogus draft public universities bill hasn’t been articulated yet. However, I can see someone trying to drag me into a banter, which I just love.

One Vincent Ekow Assafuah who I am told, works with the Ministry of Education has written to me and I want to do a point by point response because I have a feeling he has actually been “sent” to respond to me. My response is therefore not really targeted at him but at the powers that be. The letter is below:

First, the letter

“A Letter to Prof Gyampo.

I have fought with myself whether or not to attempt to respond to the opinion expressed by Prof Gyampo on the draft policy to regulate Universities in Ghana.

It appears he does not know the history of the draft especially when work started on it.

The Professor claims that the government seeks to dominate the governing councils of the universities, accuses government of totalitarian tendencies. Specifically, he accuses this government of ‘NOT TOLERATING PARTIES OF DIFFERING OPINION ” This is not only false, but also lacks any empirical basis.

Now, this is a draft submitted to all universities in Ghana to make their INPUTS and CONCERNS known so that, it becomes a working document for all stakeholders. It is therefore obvious that, we are just at the consultation level seeking to bring all stakeholders together and get their inputs.

So, Mr Professor, where from this allegation of totalitarianism? Remember, we are not obliged by any law to submit a draft to you before sending it to parliament for approval, however, out of good faith and humility, we see it as good practice. So may you please make your input rather your attempt of getting some fame out of this through social media?

The document is right in front of you, let your voice be heard!

In relation to your to call for government to pay some attention at the basic level, a simple double check would have suggested to you government’s commitment to basic Education is unprecedented. For your information sir, government has increased capitation grant by about 120%, that is, from GHC4.50p to GHC 10”.

My response:

1. Per the draft bill I have read, government is seeking to reduce the composition of the Public University Councils from the average of 15 to 9. With this number, government wants to appoint more people than the other constituents.

This is the first step at mortgaging the independence and freedom of academic institutions. With a government controlled Council, people critical of government can be dealt with in any way. This would relapse independent minds into a culture of silence.

When the NPP was in opposition, I worked with some of its top gurus to call for a reduction in the enormous powers of the executive. I am therefore surprised that elements within this same party and government are now seeking to expand the frontiers of powers of the executive in a manner that undermines constitutionalism and can potentially make people timid as well as breed dictatorship.

The control of public universities by government would mean that lecturers cannot be frank and honest in their expositions as they may fear victimization. We were bold enough to take on undemocratic regimes in Ghana and even Rawlings who publicly insisted that he isn’t a fun of multiparty Constitutional Governance saw the need to respect academic freedom. I am therefore appalled by the attitude of the apostles of democracy.

2. Even though people in this current regime seem more intolerant, I never accused anybody of intolerant of the opinion of others in my write up.

3. On the draft bill, I find it insulting that you guys drafted a document that seeks to undermine our academic freedom and yet want us to discuss. That’s disrespectful. Were you thinking we weren’t going to read and scrutinize?

You lack understanding about the concept of Representation, else you won’t tell me government doesn’t owe us a duty to submit a draft bill for our input. Read the works of Hanna Pitkin on Representation, to educate yourself about when a government, though elected, MUST consult.

But I don’t even think the government wants to consult us. Presenting a document that grants more powers to the president to control public universities in a manner that undermines academic freedom is an effort to mock at lecturers.

You pay us pittance and we aren’t fighting. But any attempt to undermine our academic freedom, would be responded to by speaking the only language government understand and we will fight with our blood.

4. On my accusation of totalitarianism, please google its meaning or go and get schooled by any level 100 Political Science Student about it. After your schooling, check the features and compare to what is currently happening and I am sure you would come to the same conclusion that, this government is trying to be totalitarian. Just because it lost its effort to control KNUST doesn’t mean it must do all it can to pass a legislation to grant the powers it so need.

It should be nauseating to you to note that this government seeks to control all powers including public toilet management and admissions to the universities.

5. I do not seek fame out of this. I am already famous and quite popular, by God’s grace and hard work, you know?

6. Yes I insist government must pay attention to the challenges at the basic level. You don’t have your children at the government basic school, so you cannot understand the fact that basic education is only free on paper.

Increasing capitation grant by 120 percent is commendable. But it hasn’t translated into practical solution as my ward at the basic school still takes money to buy text books, exercise books etc. it’s not helpful to sit in your office to conjecture. At the moment, children are given 1 exercise book for all the courses they offer. Please go and check.

7. I think you can do better by being sober about the issues I raised in my previous posts.

8. I know the past challenges that the universities have encountered and these are being resolved in collaboration with government. This doesn’t mean we should undermine academic freedom.

9. Unfortunately, some of us are fired up to ensure that nothing unacceptable is forced down our throat.

Yaw Gyampo

By: Kekeli Kuatsenu/awakenewsonline.com