Don't privatise Ghanaian public universities

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Sep 12 12:42:46 UTC 2005 General News of Sunday, 11 September 2005

Don't privatise public universities - Principals

Tamale, Sept 11, GNA - The Conference of Principals of Teacher Training
Colleges has expressed concern about the increasing rate at which some
public universities in the country are gradually and steadily being
privatised. The principals noted that the fixing of stringent cut-off
points for highly demanded courses and the declaration of some vacancies
as fee-paying options for admission seekers who have lower entry
qualifications was to use a subtle way of making private institutions out
of the public universities.

The principals therefore appealed to the government to ensure that this
practice was reviewed to enable Ghanaian children from lower income
brackets gain easy admission to universities to offer these programmes.
These were contained in a communiqu=E9 issued at the end of their 47th
Annual Conference and Workshop in Tamale on Saturday. The principals also
bemoaned the ever-falling standards of English Language competence in
higher institutions of learning in the country. "Even the most causal
observer will accept the fact that there is more than anecdotal evidence
pointing to the fact that the standard of English Language competence has
fallen and continues to fall at the levels of education in the country.''

They said the rate at which the standard of English Language was falling
could deny Ghanaian children their effective participation in the exchange
of information and communication via the Website. This would affect the
ability of brilliant mathematicians, scientists and engineers to
communicate their ideas effectively to others within and outside the
country. The Principals called for the institution of English Language
clinics together with improvement in the teaching of English at all levels
to address this problem.

The Conference also noted with concern the high incidents of examination
malpractices at all levels of the education sector and commended the West
Africa Examination Council (WAEC) and the Ghana Education Service (GES)
for ensuring that this year's Basic Education Certificate Examinations
(BECE) was not leaked. The principals called for national cooperative
action in safeguarding the integrity of the country and guaranteeing
international respect and acceptability of the certificates that are
awarded to graduates from the educational institutions.

They urged teachers to approach their duties with all the seriously it
deserves especially, by ensuring full coverage of the topics of study.
Parents should also refrain from the practice of setting unrealistic goals
for their children who may be of average ability such that the children
were not driven into finding undesirable ways and means of attaining those
goals. The principals appealed to the examination bodies and agencies to
ensure that examiners and employees do not misuse their privileged
positions to leak examination questions for any kind of undeserved gains.

They urged the Attorney General's Office to review the level of
punishments for persons involved in examination malpractices and come out
with ruthless punishment to deter others from engaging in such practices,
adding: "our conference is ready and prepared to assist in waging war
against this canker". The Communiqu=E9 cautioned the government not to
allow the new Education Bill to take away the functions of the Ghana
Education Service since that would relegate the Ministry of Education to
assume the role of policy formulator and implementer. The principals
declared their support for the establishment of a body to license teachers
in the country; a move that they considered would introduce more
professionalism into teaching.

"We wish to advise that the Licensing Authority once established should
put in place a process to license all practicing teachers by September
2007." The Principals maintained that for an effective implementation of
the proposed Educational Reform Programme, all stakeholders including the
principals must ensure that the necessary infrastructure and other inputs
were put in place so that the four year Senior High School education would
be effectively implemented.

They commended the government for introducing the capitation payment
policy as well as the experimental school-feeding programme, which were
likely to increase enrolment in primary schools. The principals appealed
to the government to improve infrastructure, ensure adequate textbooks and
teachers supply and the provision of other logistics for the smooth take
off of the programme. They urged the government to take steps to improve
infrastructure in the colleges to raise the admission figures of pupils at
the basic school level to 15,000 next academic year.

The principals called on the government to consider, as a matter of
urgency, to increase boarding fees, saying the cost of food items and
feeding related services had gone up substantially since the boarding fees
were increased to 6, 200 cedis. They therefore appealed to the Ghana
Education Service to consider convening a meeting with the Fee-fixing
Committee to discuss the issue without any delay.

Source: GNA

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