Politicians Urged to Depoliticize Educational Issues

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. George K.T. Oduro, has appealed to politicians to stop politicising educational issues and allow institutional governance structures to function effectively. Prof. Oduro stressed that when "educational system becomes extremely political rather than educational entity, students become the losers". According to him, politicians should intervene when things are not going on well in educational institutions, stressing that" but they should not interfere". He emphasised that" by politicizing our educational system, we fail as a country to tackle and adopt a national character towards addressing the real challenges facing education in our country ". Prof. Oduro said this while addressing the National Congress and Hand-Over Ceremony of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) at the Main Auditorium. Speaking on the theme " Depoliticizing Ghana's Educational System: Towards a Policy Framework ", the Pro-Vice-Chancellor called for mental revolution that would enable stakeholders tackle educational issues devoid of political fanaticism. To achieve this, he advised politicians:" Once elections are over, let us talk about Ghana, not political parties, let us talk about Ghana- not tribal politics. Let us talk about Ghana- not religious politics. Let us talk about Ghana- not an individual driven vengeance so that every stakeholder, irrespective of his or her political orientation, is brought on board to help find lasting solution to our educational predicament." For him, the future of Ghana would be bright when politicians commit themselves to the depoliticization the educational system. By so doing, Prof. Oduro indicated that, people would become more comfortable to contribute positively to the sustenance of educational policies. He called on academic institutions to play their roles efficiently to discourage political interferences in the universities' autonomy and academic freedom, while advising faculty to be fair and objective and rise beyond partisan politics in the discharge of their duties. The Minister of State in Charge of Tertiary Education, Prof. Kwesi Yankah, who spoke on the topic " Improving and Sustaining the University Teachers' Working Conditions for National Development ", said government was committed to improving the fortunes of university teachers. He said the good policies implemented by the Kuffour-led government for university teachers between 2004 and 2008 would be resurrected by the current government. He said the government would soon pass the National Research Fund into law. He encouraged university teachers to make good use of the Fund to research in the areas of science, technology and innovation to bridge the gap between academia and industry. This, according to him, would reduce the scourge of unemployment in the country. He reiterated government's position to restore the Book and Research Allowance to enable teachers to indulge in extensive research. Prof. Yankah reassured UTAG that government would not be embroiled in any move to disturb academic freedom in universities,which is enshrined in the 1992 Constitution. He told the new executives of UTAG that his doors were open for discussions on issues affecting its members and advised UTAG to chart the path of dialogue to address issues rather than resorting to industrial actions which hamper academic work in the universities. In his closing remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, who chaired the function, expressed gratitude to the speakers for their insightful presentations. He backed calls for enhanced working conditions for university teachers and appealed to the Minister to fulfil his promise to improve the fortunes of teachers. He commended the high enrollment level of the Free Senior High School policy and called on the government to put up infrastructure facilities to absorb the teeming students who would be offered admission into universities in 2020. Prof. Ampiah called for depoliticisation of educational issues and admitted that autonomy for public universities was farfetched, as a result of salary payment by government and also fundings to infrastructure projects in the universities. He expressed joy at the level of academic freedom thriving in tertiary institutions and urged academic staff to contribute their quota to the development of the country.