What our universities need is partnership. A partnership that fosters academic freedom, enhances their efficiency and also invests in research and development. The KNUST-INCAS COVID-19 rapid test kit innovation is one such outcome that is begging for support.
Our academics and students need support to focus on their core mandates of creating and sharing knowledge, not a Public Universities Bill that seeks to control and undermine the independence of our intellectuals and other researchers in state-owned universities.
The Bill as it stands does not only risk undermining academic innovation and ingenuity; it will also jettison decades of scholarly excellence and adversely affect Ghana’s position as the preferred destination for international scholarly collaboration.
As has been stated already by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, University Teachers, some former Vice-Chancellors, individual academics in the universities among many other stakeholders, there is absolutely no need for the Public Universities Bill. It must be immediately withdrawn from parliament.
In its current form, it is unclear what problems or challenges in higher education the Bill seeks to resolve. What is certain however is that, the Bill seeks to colonise public universities in the country, undermine academic freedom, stifle scholarly initiative, and subject research and researchers to needless and unproductive government control.
Government must listen to the concerns of key stakeholders and withdraw the Bill. I want to, however, assure the people of Ghana and the academic community that should government proceed and pass the Bill into an Act of Parliament, I will not hesitate to initiate steps for its immediate repeal, as a matter of priority, if God willing I assume office as President in January 2021.
Let me also renew the commitments I made during my meeting with the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) in Kumasi that as President, I will work with our universities to develop a comprehensive policy framework that promotes high quality research and rewards scholarly excellence.
Let’s respect the academic autonomy of the universities.
John Dramani Mahama
Sunday, June 14, 2020.