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Opinions Fri, 23 Aug 2019

A dismissal letter for Senyo Hosi, please

Senyo Hosi, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors is the latest to criticize the poor state of education in Ghana. A video of his comments has gone viral.

Prof. Peter Quartey, also an alumnus, in his response to Hosi’s scathing criticism said that they the lecturers do “think” but “the students do not read”.

Interestingly, Prof. Ransford Gyampo, a UG lecturer, who has been relentless in advocating academic freedom has responded to Hosi, telling him in a write-up, “I wasn’t there else I would have stopped you, trust me,” and suggesting further that Hosi should not dare criticize his alma mater.

Other commentators such as Prof. Stephen Adei, a former GIMPA rector and Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah, a former UG vice-chancellor, have sought to criticise Senyo Hosi, but all have carefully avoided Prof. Gyampo so far.

Why?

Is Hosi really the problem?

No.

In several articles, I have explained how my mentor has mentioned “literate cultures” where “scathing robust critiques” of any subject matter are the norm.

Evidently, this is a challenge at UG, especially with Prof. Gyampo’s tirade.

No need to repeat it here.

Our advice for Gyampo is that next time, he should remember that in his position, all his publications will be carefully scrutinized.

His claim of writing in his personal capacity offers him no cover whatsoever.

A dismissal letter from Prof. Afful-Broni of the University of Education Winneba to Prof. Augustine Nwagbara does not educate anybody.

And now a response from Prof. Gyampo who lectures on governance and leadership does not offer exemplary leadership nor show good governance of the society or university.

Let us examine the “Governance and Leadership” points in Prof. Gyampo’s critique of Hosi.

Gyampo’s piece starts with petty observations about meeting Hosi at a parking lot, blaming the poor attendance on lunch hour and ending with Hosi’s beard and chauffeured cars.

Then Gyampo moves on to now “deal with the issues”. Let us highlight a few of them.

First, since Senyo Hosi attended UG so he should not criticize it?

What kind of response is “how dare you” criticize a place that “made you”?

Based on that kind of reasoning, how then can you criticize anything in your country?

Second, because an alumnus is President does that mean he is better and more important than anybody else and criticism must be avoided?

In fact, President Akufo-Addo added to Gyampo’s shaky logic when he commented at the 70th-anniversary thanksgiving service that three out of five presidents of the 4th republic attended UG, suggesting this shows the primacy of the university.

Has our 4th republican democracy been stellar or even satisfactory?

Does it reflect highly on the teaching of “Governance and Leadership” at UG as taught by Prof. Gyampo and others?

Third, of course, students from UG get international scholarships and so what? But we are not told the criteria for awarding those scholarships.

What percentage of those scholarship awards are for UG students compared to other international institutions?

Fourth, as for the tired excuses about fees, salaries, student numbers…..that is exactly why the standards are poor and what are the faculty and University Council mandated to run the place doing about that? If they cannot deliver, they should step aside.

Fifth, Hosi specifically mentioned the School of Information and Communication Studies of UG in his criticism. All of a sudden they have gone quiet!

Can they not speak for themselves or communicate and provide relevant information?

Or must we check their ranking from the TIMES as recommended by Prof. Gyampo?

Respectfully, the paucity of useful information and guidance in Prof. Gyampo’s letter is striking and that is part of the larger problem Hosi was pointing to.

Prof. Addae-Mensah says grads from UG are not trained to fit into any particular job but to enable them “adapt and adopt” when employers hire them and that these employers are to train them on the job. Fair.

The crux of the matter is the knowledge base, level of discipline and outlook of university graduates trained in ghana.

Do the university students understand that an undergraduate degree in economics, engineering, medicine or journalism does not make you an economist, engineer, doctor or journalist?

But does their schooling provide them with a solid enough foundation to be easily mentored into those fields?

“The answer for the current crop of UG graduates, is NO,” says my mentor.

Addae-Mensah left Legon 16 years ago; at the very least half a generation ago.

Is he aware of the current quality of the faculty and students with respect to what is required in the present job market?

As for Prof Stephen Adei’s reported retort of “nonsense” to some of Hosi’s criticisms; it only goes to add to our jaundiced views on the current state of our public discourse.

It is not easy to speak truth to power anywhere.

When will the Bureau of National Investigations and Police be sent to investigate Senyo Hosi?

If Senyo Hosi is not investigated and dismissed like Augustine Nwagbara, the Nigerian professor at the University of Education Winneba, who was sacked for similar comments, then those who drafted, signed and lent their support to Nwagbara’s letter are real cowards…..and they certainly were “not thinking”.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah