Issues of academic freedom are exaggerated – Education Ministry on Public Universities Bill

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Allegations by Universities and other educational stakeholders about academic freedom should the Public University Bill 2020 be approved are just exaggerations, the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Education has said.

Vincent Assafuah speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile Saturday said nowhere in the bill prevents academic freedom, instead, it pursues to harmonize governance, administration, and accountability structures of public universities.

He however stated that academic freedom was not a guarantee that university heads could do what they like whenever they prefer to thus the need to populate the University council with political actors to oversee the activities of these universities.

“Now is there any part of the bill that is put forward to Parliament that suggests that a university lecturer cannot go ahead with any research and the university council may have a problem with or without?

“Is there any part of the bill that shows that a lecturer or a staff of the university cannot do what he or she has been doing before the introduction of this bill?

“If there is nothing like that then the issue of academic freedom is one that is exaggerated in my opinion because academic freedom does not necessarily mean that the management or the leadership of the various universities could do whatever they want at any point in time.”

Teacher unions, stakeholders, lecturers, and other University authorities have strongly opposed the Public Universities Bill before Parliament and pending approval. According to them the Bill when passed would not only stifle academic freedom but will also take away the autonomy of Universities.

The UTAG after reading the Bill said “the passage of the Bill into law in its current form will create more problems for the managing of the universities than they seek to resolve.”

But, in the view of the MoE Public Relations Officer, there is no harm in the bill.

“I don’t see that because if you check section 43 of the current bill which clearly talks about what academic freedom is I don’t see where there are any challenges…” he said.

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