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Wednesday, 08 September 2010 15:25

Ghana’s Expansion of Private Universities – Review Content

By Opanin Kwabena Mensah

ACCRA, Ghana, Sept 8, 2010 (Ghanaweb) - The Government is commended for the conception of the establishment of two new universities in both the Brong Ahafo Region - University of Energy and Natural Resources - and Volta Region – University of Health and Allied Sciences. Their implementation would complete the distribution of public universities in all the ten administrative regions of Ghana.


While these institutions would equip their graduates with the requisite academic and professional background, it is being questioned if the one in the Volta Region is not going to be more of the same. A review of the existing public tertiary institutions, especially the universities, shows that each of them was established to meet human resources development in specific areas.


Thus the University of Ghana, Legon (Legon), is for the Liberal Arts and Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi (KNUST) is for the Applied Sciences and Technology. University of Cape Coast (CapeVars) was set up specifically to train teachers for the second cycle institutions, a function which has since been taken over by the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) with satellite campuses in Kumasi, Asante-Mampong and possibly Ajumako.


The University of Development Studies (UDS) in Tamale brought a new concept of university education in Ghana while the University of Mines and Technology focused on the mining sector. Perhaps it is along this line of thought that the government has penciled health and allied sciences for the Volta Region. Incidentally, it is for this same reason that the objection for this particular university is being raised.


Legon has College of Health Sciences which has among others School for Allied Health Sciences. KNUST also has College of Health Sciences with a Faculty of Allied Health Sciences. CapeVars has School of Medical Sciences whose “aim is to produce doctors and allied health professionals to supplement the efforts of the three existing Medical Schools in the country”.


UDS, Kintampo-Brong Ahafo is earmarked to house the Allied Health Sciences. If well resourced these four universities are capable of developing the requisite manpower needs in the industry for the country. It is therefore not all that important to establish a whole new university specifically for that industry. Somebody has to look at the immediate and future manpower needs of Ghana before deciding on the establishment of a university.


One had expected that the various private universities that have sprung up throughout the country would provide some diversification in our human resources development. They have rather compounded matters. What one observes are duplications, combinations, variations and complexities of the same thing in one industry – business. Almost all public and private tertiary institutions in the country offer some form of business studies.


This probably may be one major reason behind the unprecedented growth of graduate unemployment in the country. The system has not developed to the level that it can absorb graduates from all the institutions. It is being argued that there are already a number of public institutions that are graduating personnel in the health and allied sciences while so many tertiary institutions offer various courses in business administration that any attempt to open a new university for these two areas would be an exercise in duplicity.


Volta Region should have a university that is unique in the country, industry specific, challenging the potentials of its students and whose graduates would be easily employed because the system needs them. It is the position of this write up that a university that is not in the country and therefore should be established in the Volta Region is one for the Criminal Justice system – Volta University of Criminal Justice (VUCJ).


Let Ghanaians study Forensic Science (Criminalistics, Toxicology, and Molecular Biology), Forensic Psychology, Police Science, Fire Science, Fire and Emergency Services, Criminal Justice Administration and Planning, Deviant Behavior and Social Control, Computer Information Systems in Criminal Justice and Public Administration, Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) and a host of others. There are so many universities, colleges, schools and institutes in Ghana offering courses from Archeology to Zoology.


Among them only one offers courses in Criminal Justice – Premier Institute of Law Enforcement Management and Administration located in Accra- but even this one only offers certification course in Police Science. The institute does not offer courses that are comprehensive in content that can be passed on as graduating professionals for the industry. Among the public institutions only UDS has expressed the intent to offer courses in Forensic Science at the graduate level.


As Ghana develops it would be faced with situations that require both academic and professional knowledge to respond to some challenges that would be encountered in the process. When the house of former President Rawlings caught fire in February 2010, one observed with dismay a glaring professional incompetence and ignoramus display of basic knowledge in the field by both Fire Service and Police personnel on duty- a crime scene was turned into durbar grounds. Soon after the fire sympathizers from all walks of life had access to the place thus compromising the scene for any effective forensic investigation to take place.


It was no coincidence that the investigation could not come up with conclusive evidence as to the cause of the fire. The very first action was to declare the area a crime scene and the perimeters condoned off for crime scene investigators (CSI) to come in to do their job.


The point being made is that our investigative strategies need to be re-tuned to meet the challenges of the day With the discovery of oil in commercial quantities all manner of people would be trooping to Ghana to do “business”. Career criminals with knowledge in forensic science, accounting, ballistic finger printing, insurance fraud and a host of others would make Ghana their country of choice, duping naïve investors and causing unnecessary harm to the populace. Ghana should be proactive and be prepared by training personnel to counter such activities. This would be some of the tasks that graduates from Volta University of Criminal Justice would be called upon to handle. With the establishment of UEW the Ghana Education Service (GES) now recruits graduate teachers for basic education schools, something that no one thought of in the immediate past.


The Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College has been upgraded with affiliation to Legon and now offers graduate courses - Masters Degree. “The law faculty at the University of Ghana has decided to make law a second degree course” All these are changes being made to meet demands of the times. It is high time law enforcement agencies in Ghana recruited graduates with knowledge in criminal justice to augment their manpower needs.


In this case graduates from Volta University of Criminal Justice would serve as the employment source for the Police Service, Prison Service, Fire Department, Immigration and others. The decision to establish a university in the Volta Region is basically to satisfy political promise but VUCJ would complement the political reasoning and make the Volta Region extremely important than envisaged.


VUCJ would bring a new level of professional judicial education into the country that would be attractive to the core of Ghanaian students who otherwise would have to take courses they had no choice but because they had been offered to them. From primary through high schools Ghanaian children would clamor to attend VUCJ for their professional education and eventual training into the judicial system just as was and is in the case of Legon and KNUST.


It would also serve to curtail the perception that only persons with connections to decision making gain employment into the various branches of Ghana’s law enforcement system since only the top performing graduates would be selected. Ghana is developing very fast and therefore its human resources should be developed in such a way that it is more responsive to its needs.


The judicial system is functioning well but the civil aspect of the criminal justice system needs to be developed to make the system very effective and continue to attract the best in the system. The establishment of a university in the criminal justice system located in the Volta Region would be a step in the right direction.


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