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Opinions of Sunday, 8 August 2010

Columnist: Appiah-Yeboah, Kwame

Mushroom Universities and Colleges in Ghana

Universities and Colleges are springing up in Ghana like mushrooms. Today it is the Harvard University of Kantamanto; tomorrow it will be the University of Kalamazoo in Koforidua. Last week I came across Four-One-Nine University of South Lagos, Kokomlemle Campus; offering majors in Sakawa and Internet Fraud. Not really but you never know. One cannot help but wonder what is being taught to these poor, ignorant fee paying students of these institutions. What kind of training, problem solving skills, entrepreneurial ability or business acumen do the graduates of these schools posses? Education is a good thing and more of it is better. More in terms of access, facilities, faculties, research output, publications, patents, inventions, etc is good for the development of the country. No country has developed without investing in education, research and development. China and India are growing in leaps and bounds due in part to their investment in education. Cheap plentiful and highly trained labor has made China and India the world’s production base.
What is not good for the development of a country is when ‘Mushroom Universities’ with no plan, structure, standards, facilities, or faculties, spring up as for profit institutions of higher learning. These institutions produce half and quarter baked graduates who have no rigorous theoretical foundation. The graduates cannot think on the job and have no problem solving skill. Some of these graduates are so bad I dare say they cannot hold a candle to a 1950s Middle School Leaving Certificate (MSLC) holder. It is disheartening to observe an environment where educational institutions of higher learning spring up overnight like – mushrooms after a heavy rain. With little or no regard for academic excellence or scientific enquiry, but more as a get rich scheme by half baked Chancellors, Proprietors, Rectors, Directors, or Presidents-some of whom never saw the inside of a classroom. These charlatans employ bachelors’ degree holders from the traditional universities and a few masters’ degree holders. Slap a ‘fancy name’ on the school (eg. Cambridge University of Daamongo, Agona Swedru University of Perfect Excellence, Pacific University of Advanced Telephony, Superior College of Information Technology at Gomoa Fete, etc) and the next thing you know they are a college of higher learning. The only good thing is they are not all located in Accra, but scattered across the length and breadth of the country. They don’t discriminate in where they produce cheap, half-baked, no skills, no talent graduates.
The ministry of education needs to as a matter of priority close down all such schools that are not accredited and force the Chancellors, Proprietors, Rectors, Directors, or Presidents to refund all tuition fees collected from the unsuspecting and ignorant students (plus interest). Additionally, the ministry should urgently consider expanding university education to all the regions of the country.
Private, semi-private, church, mosque, affiliated universities and colleges are very, very, very welcome. What the country needs are well planned colleges with strong curriculum and well trained faculty. Ashesi University is a shining example of the kind of institutions Ghana needs. What is not welcome is the low or sub-standard set-ups parading as universities and colleges with fancy names. Empty barrels indeed make the most noise.
Ministry or Education and National Accreditation Board over to you! The future of higher education is in your collective hands.

Kwame Appiah-Yeboah,
Master of Science Law and Commerce (MSLC), GCE O’level, GCE A’level (2X), BSc, CNA, MSc, PhD.