The flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, says his party will continue to promote greater academic freedom in the universities, promising that disturbances on the campuses of the University of Education, Winneba, and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) will never occur under his administration.
He has therefore cautioned government against its actions, claiming they are affecting cordial engagements among lecturers and also management members, and ultimately affecting teaching and learning.
Speaking during a meeting with the National Executives of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), the former President maintained that government has no business interfering in the running of the universities, noting that the universities have their own autonomous structures in place to deal with their administrative issues.
Mr. Mahama restated the NDC’s opposition to the Public Universities Bill, affirming that each and every university must remain autonomous and conduct their affairs without the intended interference in their activities.
“Every university based on its diversity and what its objectives are must have its separate Act… if there are issues with the Act [that established a university], we can amend the Act for that particular university,” he stated.
He stressed further that “if the University Council feels that the work of the Vice Chancellor is not up to standard, it is the duty of the University Council to take action; it is not the duty of government to attempt to remove the Vice Chancellor.”
The Kumasi meeting discussed many topical issues including remuneration, steps towards the introduction of sustainable grants for research and graduate education, the management of utilities on campus, the infrastructure deficit in the universities and the role universities can play in managing the unemployment challenge facing Ghana and other African countries.
The discussions form part of the NDC and John Mahama’s engagement with stakeholders and key groupings ahead of the 2020 general elections.
According to the former president, the interactions are aimed at sharing ideas, listening to the concerns and expectations of the various groupings to shape the party’s manifesto for 2020.
The outgoing President of UTAG, Dr. Eric Opoku, thanked Mr Mahama for responding to the invitation and expressed the desire that there will be more of such interactions even after he assumes the presidency.
Mr. Mahama was accompanied by Professor Joshua Alabi, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra, NDC Chairman Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia, Ashanti Regional Chairman Nana Kwasi and Dr. Callistus Mahama.