General News of Thursday, 18 July 2019
Professor Kwesi Yankah, Minister of State-in-Charge of Tertiary Education has asserted that public universities in Ghana have not deviated from its core mandate that established them.
According to him, though some universities had allowed differentiation in programmes, however, they had not departed much from their core areas.
“KNUST, predominantly a science and Technology University, in spite of the apparent deviations, still remains dominantly science and technology between 60-70 per cent. University of Ghana predominantly humanities university, in spite of the addition of a science and health-related departments, is still a predominant humanity university.”
Prof Yankah made the observation when he moved the motion in Parliament for the second reading of the University of Business and Integrated Development Studies Bill, 2018, that seeks to give legal backing to the conversion of the Wa Campus of the UDS into an autonomous University.
When it becomes autonomous, the institution is expected to meet the tertiary education needs of the people in the Upper West Region and beyond.
The Upper West Region is the poorest, least developed and under-resourced of all the regions in the country- a situation that tends to affect access to education, training and ultimately, the development of the region.
The view is that proximity to a university in the region would stimulate the pursuit of tertiary education and enhance the human resource capacities in the region.
Prof Yankah also recognized that some areas were ignored and missed in terms relevance and focus such as the technical universities, which originally should have maintained the mandate of 70 per cent science and technology-related and 30 per cent humanities. But this was revered to 28 per cent technology and 68 per cent humanities.
He insisted that the new technical Universities had been given the mandate to ensure that at least 70 percent of their programmes ought to be dedicated to the niche area and 30 per cent for the rest.
“I can imagine how boring the universities would be if it is only humanities and there are no areas where you can look for interfaces between humanities and the other disciplines. So we always allow that margin of differentiation to allow for non-niche areas that are important. Similarly, science-related universities also need the humanities,” he said.
Prof Yankah also called for closer link between the university and its community so that the students can spend months applying themselves to issues that are useful to the people.
He called for the equitable distribution of assets among the three autonomous campuses of the University for Development Studies (UDS).
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minority Leader in his remark, said challenges of higher education in Ghana are in three levels including access, quality and relevance.
He said the establishment of the UDS and its affiliate campuses had changed the economy of the entire Northern Ghana of Wa, Navrongo and Tamale.
He expressed concern over the public universities departing from their core mandate, mission and value, adding that, the universities should redefine their mandate and stay consistent within their requirement.
Mr Iddrisu also called for a national dialogue on the future of higher education in the country, saying “As a country, we have probably not bequeathed to ourselves what we call our immediate manpower needs. What does Ghana needs between 2020 and 2030 in terms of our manpower requirement,” he added.
He said “we must compel the universities to produce the manpower the country would require and not what they would produce or deemed as desirable.
There is disconnect, between the people the universities are training and the manpower needs of the country,” adding that, there is the need to train more people in the gas and oil sector.
Mr William Agyepong Quaittoo, Chairman of the Educational Committee in his comments stated that, the bill seeks to establish the University of Business and Integrated Development Studies, as a public tertiary institution in Wa in the Upper West Region, and it should be an outstanding internationally acclaimed applied research and practical-oriented educational institution, dedicated to the development of business and integrated development studies.
He said the objective is to provide higher education, disseminate knowledge related development in business and integrated development studies, and undertake research and nurture relationships with persons outside the institution in accordance with laid down principles.
He stressed the need to employ the use of critical tools that include information and communication technology for teaching, research, dissemination of knowledge and administration.
He urged the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) to ensure that the university abides by its principles in the conduct of teaching and learning, and in the governance off the university.