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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 March 2005

Columnist: Appiah-Yeboah, Kwame

The Rot at the University of Ghana: Na Who Cause Am?

It is with much pain and sadness that I comment on the recent happenings at the University of Ghana. The University of Ghana that I know and attended in the 90s is like my first love. It exposed me to the world and opened my eyes to greater things. It saddens me that the reputation of this great university is being trashed by the actions and inactions of a few individuals.

Who is to blame? I am not into the blame game but in this case a run down of those responsible would help in cleaning up the mess. The University Administration headed by the Chairman of the University Council, Academic Board, Vice Chancellor, Registrar, Government, Students, Alumni, Staff, Workers, everybody. We are all responsible.

What do we do?

1. Set higher standards for students and faculty and hold them to it. In the past, when a student does not pass his first year exams, he is dismissed (Mfodwo collects his keys.) Re-introduce that practice and raise the minimum GPA level 100 students must attain at the end of the first year to 2.0 or they are dismissed. Faculty should be told ?publish or die?. That is, conduct worthy research or lose your position. No long service promotion. No back door promotion.

2. Increase the remuneration for faculty and make it worthwhile to take up faculty positions in Ghana. This would encourage the best brains to study for higher degrees (MS, MPhil, PhD) and take up faculty positions in Ghana. Lecturers should be given the same level of remuneration as parliamentarians (excluding the sitting allowance). They should get research grants to conduct research. Like parliamentarians, they should also get interest free car loans. Finally, faculty should be rewarded for hard work in promotion and not on one?s political connections.

3. Lower standards or concessions granted to the children of faculty and staff, politicians and faculty from other universities in Ghana in admissions should be abolished ASAP (With immediate effect.). No back door admission. Concession in admissions if anything should be granted to students from deprived schools. Examples: Oda Secondary, Tuobodom Community Secondary, or Kodobeda Sec-Tec, Hwe Wa Asetramu Agric. College, etc.

4. Examinations should be decentralized. No centralized examination center. No quarantine room for exam questions. No examination assistants. No cheating. Each and every lecturer should conduct his or her own exams. That is Prof A, sets his own questions. Types and photocopy the needed copies and keeps them till the scheduled time for his test. He shows up with the questions and Registry staff brings in the properly stamped and ID answer booklets. Prof A supervisors his own exams and take the answers home with him. He grades the exams and submits the grades and scripts to the head of department who forwards all results to the registry. The scripts are kept at the department for 2 years after which they are destroyed. Registry staff enters the grades into the student?s transcripts and Prof A verifies the grades for the students who took his class. As the level of computerization increases in Ghana, entering and verifying of grades can be done at the department level. This way, Prof A is absolutely responsible for the integrity of his exams.

5. Any appeals for remarking should be made at the department level and the student only pays when the remarking did not result in a change in grade. Remarked scripts are reviewed by the head of department or anyone designated by the head of department. Requests for remarking can only be made up to two years after the exam was taken.

6. All faculty, staff, and workers should be made to sign a compliance bond and an updated code of ethics at the end of every two years. Gone are the days when fighting, cheating and stealing were no-go areas for faculty and students. It meant instant dismissal. The code of ethics would spell out in detail acceptable and unacceptable conduct and the appropriate sanctions including and up to dismissal.

7. Students? loans should be paid in monthly installments instead of the current system of by semester. My experience in Legon was that, once the bulk loans came in, students went about boozing and partying to the detriment of their studies. Paying in monthly installments may instill in students the habit of saving.

8. Finally, there should be an urgent upgrade to the facilities on the campuses of all universities in Ghana. We have to invest in education if we as a nation wants to progress. Packing students in labs and lecture theaters like ?Queen of the Coast? sardine does not create a favorable atmosphere for learning. The commercialization of university facilities must stop and the focus must be on academic excellence.

The above steps, I believe would bring the shine back to Legon and help restore the dented image that has become the plight of our great university. In the meantime, anybody whose actions or inactions directly or indirectly contributed to the current stain on the university?s name must be dismissed: From VC to the Porter, no one should be too big or too small to be spared.

Kwame Appiah-Yeboah Grieving Alumni
University of Ghana
Class of 1996

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.