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The Legon Scandal - Open Letter To President Kufuor
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The Legon Scandal - Open Letter To President Kufuor

Mon, 2 May 2005 Source: Danso, Kwaku A.

RE: The Legon Scandal: Leaders and Institutions Revisited

Dear Mr. President,

We know you are a very busy person and have many important issues to deal with. However, the Ghana Leadership Union (NGO) wishes to take a minute of your time to hereby register our extreme displeasure at what is going on in our premier university, the University of Ghana, Legon and perhaps make our nation aware of its global implications. We are saddened by the fact that the crisis has not been given the necessary attention nor measures discussed at the executive level to redress the situation. This problem goes beyond the walls of Legon. We believe this is not just a matter of fraud by the Vice Chancellor's son but a matter whose ramifications have grave consequences for the long term image and survival of our education and national development. Whilst it is important to investigate the immediate causes of the crisis, it is equally important to analyze how we have arrived at this deplorable state as a nation and ensure that it never happens again. Let's ask ourselves: what meaningful role has any government, since Nkrumah, made to improve our universities?

It is our strong opinion that in the forthcoming University Of Ghana investigations, anyone found culpable must be exposed and brought to justice irrespective of social standing or status.

As a nation, the one thing we can count on to accelerate our development and bring about inclusion in the global technological community is our education. Discipline is a fundamental hard core of education. It is sad to note that in most cases, our natural resources are being mismanaged and handled without any tangible benefits accruing to our citizens, whiles the cost of living is becoming unbearable for most. We must not allow education to be mismanaged in that manner too.

Unwitting and unintended though it may be, education has become one of our chief export resources. The rather considerable remittance flows into Ghana come from folks some of whom are literally marketing the skills they acquired through the high quality education they obtained in Ghana in institutions like The University of Ghana, Legon. If we allow the reputation of our educational institutions to be wantonly destroyed in such a fraudulent manner, even that avenue would soon be closed to us. We should avoid mismanaging our education as we have done with other things.

Products of our educational institutions have excelled everywhere they have gone to pursue higher education. The benefits of our previously well-managed educational institutions includes our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, at some of the best medical schools and hospitals, some of the largest corporations, hospitals, and most prestigious universities in the world such as Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia, Brown, Princeton, MIT, Yale and many more in the USA, as well as Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College in UK, and many others in other parts of the world. This achievement has been possible because of the quality of education imparted to students which enabled them to compete in any arena. Laurels and praises showered on some of our former students is good, but not enough. We pray that our educational standards will not be diluted and render our students less competitive than they have hitherto been.

As a matter of urgency we will like to know what our government is doing to ensure continued high standards in our educational institutions. Many of our government officials have themselves been beneficiaries of the fine system of education we had. We want to know what they are doing to maintain the standards we once took so much pride in. What happened to the old pride we had in our discipline in education and in our moral character?

We hold education as a supreme right for all citizens and it must be accorded the priority it deserves. We pray our government to subordinate selfish and frivolous use of state resources to this supreme need. For without education, the up and coming generations, and in fact our whole nation, has no hope at all. Our governments must understand that they are elected with an awesome responsibility and we expect them to live up to it as custodians of the land. They must not fail us. We would like to know why the President, the Minister of Education, the Board of Education and the Attorney General have been quiet in this matter.

As Ghanaians who care, if we fail to comment or act to correct the wrongs we have observed we become equally culpable. We must, therefore, marshal the courage it takes to do the right thing for the sake of posterity.

We cannot and we must not sit down to allow what is presently going on in University of Ghana, Legon to permeate our school system let alone our higher institutions. Legon is our premier university, whose graduates used to be respected among the very finest in the world like Harvard, Yale and Oxford. In fact, we hope it still does.

The Ghana Leadership Union believes this matter demands attention from quarters beyond the university authorities, and it must actually be taken up by the President. It is in this light that we are very disappointed at the attitude of the President?s office. Education is very important, and we fear the silence may portray to others a low level leadership drive for the President to be quiet on this matter as on many others. This President?s apparent unwillingness to comment on matters of national concern may tend to depict him as someone who is content to allow things to happen without any push for direction from him. This may give the impression to others of blissful negligence. It has been suggested in many respectable quarters that it would be prudent to limit foreign travels, and spend some time to provide leadership and deal with our many internal problems such as the rot which has emerged at Legon.

GLU is hereby asking the President: ?WHAT IS GOING ON?? Should we allow some few selfish individuals to tarnish the image of Ghana since Ghana?s future is nothing more than her great educational institutions? The fact is, there is nothing else to count on besides our great education and intellectual capital, and for that matter we should not mingle this with party politics. The fact, for example, that we have a Secretary General of the UN who hails from Ghana is testimony of the great institutions we speak about.

If 4 officials have been asked to step down, it may be appropriate punishment and action and GLU would like to congratulate officials for doing the right thing. GLU hereby wishes to make a strong representation to the Office of the President not only to take the matter up seriously and bring culprits to justice but also to cut down other government spending such as the excessive spending on travels, conferences and executive spending, and devote more resources to our educational system. The savings on eliminating even two luxury vehicles could build a new dormitory for Legon or other Universities, or provide 1,000 computers. It is time for the government to look into reverting to the old system and upgrading our education to another level. As we speak, India?s economy is reported to have grown over 6% even as compared to the USA of 4% simply because India takes her education very serious. Investment in Education may yield more benefits than even investment in Agricultural production such as the popular cassava plantations, if we only knew how to exploit the skills so produced to build industries and create jobs. By this we do not mean to dismiss out of hand the people?s innovation in cassava plantations. Nor do we wish to imply that education has been neglected in favor of starch production. We refer specifically to the Presidential initiative on starch, and wonder where and when a similar initiative will come in favor of modern industrialization, as our first Prime Minister started and many South East Asian nations learnt to their current economic wonders. Education is important, and funded from taxes, for the most part. No modern great nations has succeeded by relying on agriculture alone without industrialization. It is said that one can catch more flies with molasses than with vinegar. Whiles crediting the initiative on cash crops from agriculture, here are other areas for the government to consider: factories that make the infrastructure of items that we need in education, including paper, pencils, pens, ink, computers, and other classrooms accessories. The list is endless. Have we thought of negotiating to have the manufacturers of these products make them in Ghana?

Therefore, GLU is strongly calling on the good offices of our Government, and Parliament to act with speed without delay. For once, Parliament should act in a non-partisan way to solve this problem once and for all.

In light of the above we would like to suggest the following

1. That the President should come out openly to condemn the actions perpetrated by the individuals in question. It sets a moral tone as judged by others. 2. That Parliament and the President should ask the Minister of Education to investigate and address the sources of examination leakages, and fix it. 3. That the leakage of examination questions be treated as a criminal case and the President directs the Office of the Attorney General to investigate the criminal offense. This also sets a tone for our democratic practices in the rule of law.

We also propose the following long term solutions: 1. That government should invest in technology that would create a leakage proof system of compiling examination questions. This could be done by asking lecturers to provide more than the number of questions needed for a particular exam. Say 10-15 questions would be submitted for a five question exam and allow computer software to generate the required number of questions which is printed out only on the day of examination or the night before. In this case neither the lecturer nor the registrar could determine the exact questions on a particular exam. For multiple choice questions, say 200 questions would be submitted for computer software to select 50. This would also prevent lecturers from dishing out exam questions to their favorites or use exam questions to illicit illegal favors.

2. Investing in technology is the way forward. Software will be developed to generate the questions (a great opportunity for some of our geniuses to exploit their skills and talent). In the issue of essay type questions, answered scripts would have to be evaluated by three markers or lecturers and the average collated. This will demand that questions should not be very demanding to reduce the time taken to mark. In the mathematics related questions, more options will have to be provided. We suggest that the pool of questions in the university since their inceptions can help enrich the pool. Also in response to developing trends, lecturers can formulate questions and a minimum for every lecturer per academic year may be given to check lazy ones. Also frequent modifying of the variables will aid. Whatever it is, once it takes off, innovative ideas will emerge to build on. There should also be a five-year period review of the systems to address emerging flaws. We have to be confident that if it becomes a policy, it will be implemented.

3. To boost the effectiveness of this process, the professors could be asked for 10-20 sets of written questions to be used in the exam. People in the exam would use different exam sets, meaning adjacent students would have different exams. This way, sharing answers during exams would be eliminated. Similarly, 10-20 sets of multiple choice questions could be developed for those types of exams. If implemented, the instructors would certainly have more work to do. It is hoped that given the difficulties our universities are facing, the instructors will understand that their role and commitment in resolving the problem will lead to a better system, a better environment, possibly higher enrollment from other African countries and eventually a higher pay. By being learned people, the hope and prayer is for their understanding.

4. GLU believes that our institutions can only be built and can stand from good effective leadership. It is important for the Ministry of Tertiary Education to conceive a solution and build and implement the solution. If the universities accept our proposals for long term resolution of the problem of exam questions? leakages that requires the software, then GLU would be glad to purchase or work together with any Ghanaians in software engineering to produce such software.

Yours in the service of the people of Ghana,

Kwaku A. Danso, President/Chairman Okyere Bonna, Secretary Email: k.danso@comcast.net Email: obonna@email.uophx.edu

Board of Directors

*Kwaku A. Danso -President and Chairman * Dr. Eric Sekyere - Vice President * *Okyere Bonna - Secretary * Anthony Owusu Williams ? Asst. Secretary * Kwasi Kissi ?Treasurer

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To: The President of the Republic of Ghana
His Excellency J.A. Kufour

Cc: Minister of Education
Minister of Tertiary Education UTAG, NUGS, GNAT,
All Heads of Departments at the University
Members of Ghana?s Parliament
Bar Association
The Ghanaian Press

Kwaku A.Danso
Pres/Chair: GHANA LEADERSHIP UNION (NGO)


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Danso, Kwaku A.