Individuals and groups demanding that the government withdraws the Public Universities Bill 2020 may be fighting a losing battle as President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says that the Bill cannot be disputed.
This comment from the President comes in the midst of strong opposition especially academics to the passage of the Bill.
They contend that when the Bill becomes law, academic freedom will be suppressed as the government will have so much power over public universities.
Already, these individuals and groups have tagged the Bill as unconstitutional.
President Akufo-Addo, in an interview with Accra-based Oman FM on September 4, 2020, said that the Bill has been introduced to rather rationalize the operations of public universities as each one of them was, to an extent, operating differently.
He said that the Bill will simplify the management of public universities in the country.
“One of the things with our educational system which has caused a lot of talks recently is the Public Universities Bill we introduced. We are trying to rationalize how the public universities will operate. The basic thrust of the Bill and the rationale for it is incontestable. We have public universities in Ghana, each one of them having almost different charters and running differently. We will now rationalize it and have a more simplified management administration of the schools,” he said.
The President was, however, quick to add that the part of the Bill which deals with the composition of the governing council of public universities was being relooked.
“There are one or two aspects of the Bill that generated controversy and I’m very keen that those matters should be looked at again. For instance, the composition of the Council. Some valid criticisms have been made about the initial proposal the government made and I think it’s only right that we pause and have a look at it again. That is the way it should be and that is the necessary process by any responsible people,” he added.
UG-UTAG to petition President Akufo-Addo over Public Universities Bill
Meanwhile, the University of Ghana chapter of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UG-UTAG) says that it intends to petition the President over the Bill.
Speaking on Radio Univers’ Behind The Headlines programme on Thursday, September 17, 2020, member of the UG-UTAG, Dr. Godfred Bright Hagan, indicated that they were looking forward to presenting the petition before Parliament reconvenes in October.
According to him, some members of the Association hold the view that the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, may not have been probably briefed regarding the implication of passing the Public Universities Bill.
“We are hoping that even before October, we get to present a petition to the President himself. Some of us still believe that the President, probably, hasn’t been briefed well enough. There is a signature campaign out there that has garnered close to 3,000 signatories. We know that if he should read the memorandum to the parliamentary select committee on Education and the fact-sheet that UG-UTAG has developed on this Bill, I am 100% convinced that the President would press on his Minister of Education to withdraw this Bill,” he said.