Prof. Atuguba Demands A Revision Of The Public Universities Bill
Dean of the University of Ghana School of Law, Professor Raymond Atuguba
The Dean of the University of Ghana School of Law (UGSL), Professor Raymond Atuguba has joined the call for the withdrawal of the Public Universities Bill.
He directs his call to the Minister of Education as he suggests that the Bill, which is currently before Parliament, needs several amendments to make it “constitutionally wholesome”.
Prof. Atuguba, who had once hinted that he may resign and take legal action if the Bill is passed, is pressing for the revision of the Bill by the Education Minister through the Education Committee in Parliament.
According to him, the Bill is not worth considering as it did not follow the right process.
Speaking in an interview, he said,
“I expect the Committee on Education to reject it completely… I have read this Bill and it will take hundreds of amendments to make it constitutionally wholesome and we know that the tradition in our Parliament since it started operating in 1993 is that, when a Bill is that problematic, they urge the Minster laying it on behalf of the President to withdraw the Bill, completely rework it and bring it back rather than come to the consideration stage and be subject to 300 disparate and confusing motions for amendment. So, I expect the Education Committee to ask the Minister to withdraw the Bill, rework it completely before relaying it.”
Calls for withdrawal of the Bill
The Public Universities Bill which is still in draft form, has received a wide range of public criticisms from many people including former Vice-Chancellors of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah and Prof. Ernest Aryeetey.
Both professors believe that the bill will grant the President and Minister for Education more power over universities than necessary.
The Minority in Parliament also rejected the bill with the Ranking Member on the Education Committee of the House, Peter Nortsu indicating that the draft in its current form undermines the authority of universities.
A former Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in an article also said the Bill, if allowed to pass, could become “a crude attack on the sacred principles of academic freedom”.
The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) has also rejected the government’s proposed Public Universities Bill. In justifying their rejection, GAAS asserted that the Bill accords the government and its agencies too much power to meddle in the affairs of public university administration and also serve as grounds for the sabotage of schools by the government.
The Public Universities Bill
The Public University Bill (2020, p. 4 & 5) outlines the aims of the bill. According to the document, the bill is to create, disseminate and preserve knowledge and understanding through teaching, skill development and research, scientific publications, technology transfer and extension; and community service.
The Bill, when passed, will give the government power to appoint the majority of members of the University Council.
The Council then has the power to appoint and fire public university officials.
The Bill also gives the President the power to dissolve the university council which will now have the power to appoint a chancellor.
It also gives effect to the University Council to control the finances of the university and determine the allocation of funds.
In addition, there is a proposal to rename four public universities after various personalities.