Minister for Education; Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh

Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has been commended for acting swiftly to quell the seeming tension in the academic circles over the Public Universities Bill (PUB).

A United States-based Ghanaian Professor Kweku Asare said the intervention was timely. He, however, said the suspension is not enough but what is needed is total cancellation.

“I commend Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia for his timely intervention to stop this needless desire for presidential control of the universities.

“His intervention is not too surprising since he himself is an academic and was a professor in the US (Go Bears) for many years. If government wants to fix higher education, it should look no further than the School of Law and its out of control, unaccountable regulator.

“PUB must not just be suspended. It must be laid to rest,” Professor Asare said in a Facebook post.

The government on Wednesday, December 16 suspended the controversial Public Universities Bill.

This followed a stakeholders meeting held by the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, on that day.

After the meeting, which had in attendance representatives of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), the Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASAG), Vice-Chancellors Ghana (VCG), among others, the Chair of Education Committee, William Agyapong Quaittoo, addressed journalists.

He said copies of the revised bill has been made available to all agitating stakeholders for their inputs for the House to resume consideration after all concerns are addressed.

He added that the new bill addresses most of the concerns raised by the stakeholders, adding that the government will not allow heads of the universities to review the entire bill to their satisfaction.

An attempt to get the bill passed has been met with stiff opposition from a cross-section of the Ghanaian public.

For instance, an Associate Professor and Dean of School of Law at the University of Ghana, Professor Raymond Atuguba, described the bill as ‘glaringly and patently unconstitutional’ and called on colleague members of University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) to find ways of stopping it before it is passed by parliament.

Parliament suspended the controversial bill due to public outrage and criticisms from stakeholders in the education sector, but re-laid it for second reading Tuesday, December 15 would most likely be passed soon.

But Prof. Atuguba in an email to his colleagues which has gone viral called for an expedite action from the leadership of UTAG to stop the passage because in his view there is nothing good about it.

“I am reliably informed that the Public Universities Bill (PUB) could be passed into Law in the next 24 to 72 hours, or even sooner! So forgive me if I go directly to the point. Unless UTAG (local and national) are able to work through the night TODAY, to provide a ROADMAP by tomorrow morning, establishing a clear PATHWAY for stopping the passage of the PUB, I will be in the lead to ensure their impeachment and more,” he said.

The law professor took time to critique the bill, pointing out what he thinks are lapses, while explaining how the bill when passed will weaken public universities and eventually politicize them. He highlights his critiques as follows:

It is glaringly and patently unconstitutional (so no Parliament or MP has any business passing it into law);

It seeks to politicize the Public Universities (can’t we have at least one institution in the country that is not politicized);

It seeks to establish Executive and Ministerial micro-management of public universities, (effectively crippling them); and

It is very badly drafted in several areas (not the fault of the drafters; they had a horrible policy to work with).

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