The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has expressed displeasure over President Nana Akufo-Addo’s recent description of harmless critics of the controversial Public Universities bill.
It said Akufo-Addo’s comments were “unfortunate” and “worrying.”
President Akufo-Addo at the recent graduation at the University for Professional Studies, Accra described persons who expressed a different opinion and challenged clauses in the Bill as “mischief-makers” and “disingenuous.”
He also said such opinions are “flimsy.”
“Consultations on the public university’s bill has been completed and will be laid before Parliament this year. Amongst others, this will bring all the public universities under a common law, thereby making administration of public universities less cumbersome, and more efficient. The flimsy allegations being perpetrated that the Bill will undermine academic freedom are deliberate mischief making and disingenuous,” the president said.
But UTAG in a statement said it takes a serious view of the description and believes that such comments by the president undermine supposed efforts by the Ministry of Education to look into the concerns of bodies such as UTAG who have opposed the bill in its current form.
“The Association finds the President’s description of the differing views by our cherished members of UTAG on the Bill as unfortunate. UTAG also finds the description worrying and prejudicial particularly when the Ministry of Education has assured us that it is considering the concerns of UTAG and those of other stakeholders before the Bill is tabled before Parliament.”
UTAG said the critical views expressed must be incorporated into the draft bill.
UTAG insisted that the Ministry of Education, as it promised, must build consensus before the passage of “such an important and sensitive Bill,” adding that failure to consult widely will pose a serious threat to the running of public universities in the country.
Several criticisms about the bill were raised some months ago after some academics and members of the opposition raised concerns about some of the clauses in the bill.
Among the clauses they had challenges with were that the President of Ghana will appoint five members out of the nine members that will form the university council as well as the chairman of the council.
Also, the draft bill gives the president the power to dissolve the university council which will now have the power to appoint a chancellor.
The Bill also gives effect to the University Council to control the finances of the university and determine the allocation of funds.