Former President John Dramani Mahama, has called for the immediate withdrawal of the Public Universities Bill, 2020, which is currently before Parliament for consideration and approval.
The former Ghanaian Leader who is also the flag bearer for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in a post on his website, www.johnmahama.org, on Sunday, June 14, 2020, said there is no need for such a bill since its passage into law will stifle academic freedom.
He has instead, called for partnerships, believing that is the only way that wills strengthen the various universities and foster academic freedom.
“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 mandate 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”, Mr. Mahama said in his write-up.
He went further to state 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”, he added.
The Public Universities Bill, 2020, is part of the many reforms being executed by the Ministry of Education, to harmonize all the outmoded and inconsistent laws currently used to govern public universities in the country.
Among some of the new things introduced in the Bill are academic freedom (clause 41), anti-discrimination (clause 43), the composition of the academic board (clause 19) and dispute settlement (clause 45).
The purpose of the Public Universities Bill is to provide the procedure for the establishment of Public Universities, principles of management of Public universities, the legal status of Public universities, the procedure for financing Public universities and administration and supervision of the activities of Public universities and related matters.