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Opinions Sat, 13 Jun 2015

Eastern region and the politics of expediency

The university college of agriculture and environmental sciences, the first ever university college to be established by a traditional council in Ghana was envisaged to promoting higher education by its founders. The vision of the traditional authorities in establishing this noble institution seems to be stifled by factors and circumstances I find difficult to comprehend as a Ghanaian, the pull him down attitude of Ghanaians and the political apathy of government cannot be left out as the institution located in the greens of the old Bunso cocoa college struggles to sail its head above the hot waters.

The John Mills administration deserves all the recommendation for delivering on its promise of establishing the university of energy and renewable natural resources in Brong Ahafo region and the university of health and allied sciences in the Volta region, the former was founded on the old Sunyani campus of KNUST’s faculty of Agriculture and renewable natural resources because it already had some level of infrastructure. That left the rural health training school, Kintampo at bay in spite of government promise of upgrading it into a fully fledge university, instead Volta region was chosen to host the new university of health and allied sciences since the policy was to make each region have at least one state owned university. And there too the new university started operating from an old facility provided by the Volta regional hospital.

The coin took a flip once again immediately it got to eastern region’s turn to get a state owned university, it was again marred with serious apathy. Government had two options as it has been done in the previous regions, either to adopt and fuse the university college of agriculture and environmental sciences which are operating on same campus and upgrade them into fully fledged state owned university or establish an entirely new university with focus on a different field of the academia in any location in the region but both never happened. Government rather chose to establish yet another university with same focus on environment at the detriment of the already struggling UCAES and Bunso cocoa college because of politics of expediency in eastern Ghana.

Drama unfolded on the floor of parliament on the 12th of June 2014 about the choice of location of the new eastern university with the minority caucus accusing the ruling government of choosing a location out of political expediency because they believe the new university should be sited in the regional capital of Koforidua as was done in other regions or the government follows the status quo of choosing a site in the region which already has some level of infrastructure for which reason the old Bunso cocoa college would have been the best site for the new university if not because of political expediency.

once again the deputy minister of education jumped to the defence of government citing examples of the university of mines and technology as not being located in the regional capital, probably he forgot that it was a previous western college of KNUST which was strategically located because of its proximity to the mines to providing practical hand on experience to students, moreover government choose to make it a fully fledge university rather than starting from scratch a new university in the capital of the western region. This supports the minority’s argument that the Bunso cocoa college with near proximity to the Tafo Cocoa research center and the Bunso plant generic research center would have been the ideal location.

The deputy minister once again made a weak defence when he made reference to the private university in koforidua and the about to be upgraded Polytechnic as reasons for government choice but that also backfired because same situations were in Ho and Sunyani before government chose them to host the new universities so he had to seek asylum in the committee that made the recommendations.

My submission still remains unchanged. Why should government want to site yet another university with same focus on environment in a different location in Eastern region whilst there exist the University college of Agriculture and Environment and the Bunso cocoa college serving same purpose located in the Eastern region and rather NOT establish a university with a different field of study since the argument of location on that one will be limited. Too little too late.

Seth P Boamah

actseth@gmail.com

Columnist: Boamah, Seth Panyin