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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assured Ghanaians that the Public Universities Bill, when laid before Parliament and passed, will not in any way affect academic freedom in Ghana’s public universities.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assured Ghanaians that the Public Universities Bill, when laid before Parliament and passed, will not in any way affect academic freedom in Ghana’s public universities.

Speaking at the 11th congregation for the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) yesterday, President Akufo-Addo said consultations on the Public Universities Bill are now complete.

He added that once passed, the bill will bring all the public universities under a common law, among other things. This will make administration of the universities less cumbersome and more efficient, he said.

“The flimsy allegations being perpetrated that the bill will undermine academic freedom are deliberate mischief-making and disingenuous.

“My government and I are firm subscribers, as the bill amply demonstrates, to the cardinal importance of the principle of academic freedom in the development of all institutions of learning worth their salt,” President Akufo-Addo added.

Befitting education

Speaking on the theme for the congregation, “Celebrating Professional and Scholarly Excellence for Accelerated Nation-Building”, the President said it reinforced his government’s commitment to ensuring that all of Ghana’s young people gain access not only to senior high school, but also tertiary education.

This, he explained, is a path “that represents the surest way of equipping the citizenry with the requisite skills for national development”.

“The government is not sparing any efforts to make education in Ghana of the best quality, and fit for the needs of the 21st century,” he said.

Free SHS

With the implementation of the Free Senior High School policy, the President said Ghana is one of the countries in the world where public education is now free from basic school to senior high school.

He said that starting from September this year all students in Ghana’s public senior high schools will be covered by the Free SHS policy.

“We are making sure that poverty is no longer an excuse for any Ghanaian child not to reach their full potential, and I am happy that it is under my time as President of the Republic that this feat has been chalked,” he said.

With a new standards-based curriculum set to roll out from kindergarten to Class 6 in primary schools, the President said the new curriculum will focus on making Ghanaian children confident, innovative, digitally literate, well-rounded, patriotic citizens.

President Akufo-Addo also said that 21 state-of-the-art technical and vocational education and training (TVET) centres will be built in addition to ten science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) centres.

These centres will provide support for the introduction of Stem into basic schools, he said.

Research fund

President Akufo-Addo said in line with efforts to tackle the challenges confronting funding of tertiary education, the government has committed itself to establishing a research fund.

He explained that the sole purpose is to fund relevant and sector-specific research work in Ghana’s institutions of higher learning, in addition to the standard book and research allowance.

Legal integrity

He further advised the graduating students of law to uphold the integrity and special status of the legal profession.

Citing the staunch defence put up by some lawyers a few years ago regarding payment of fraudulently procured judgment debts as a case in point, he said it is not surprising that the legal profession has attracted the most cynical comments.

“We need to be aware of these criticisms and respond in a manner that asserts the integrity of the legal profession and its determination to uphold the rule of law,” he said.

“Upholding law and order is the basis of every organised and progressive society,” the President added.

Best student

UPSA was holding the first session of its 11th congregation for the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Studies and the Faculty of Law.

A total of 326 students graduated with undergraduate degrees and diplomas.

Sandra Akweley Martey, a graduate in public relations management, was adjudged the best student, with First-Class honours and a final cumulative grade point average of 3.75.