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MP Queries Education Minister over high Varsities Graduation fees

Hon . Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, Member of Parliament for Akatsi North has dragged the Minister for Education to Parliament to explain why public universities in the country engaged in collecting high fees for graduations ceremony.

According to the MP, the huge graduation fees been collected by the Universities was totally illegal as such fees have never been approved by parliament, adding that, public universities students pay between 250 and 300 for graduation ceremonies.

“We have laws on fee charges in this country. Until parliament approve certain amount of fee to be charge by our public institutions, they can not just get up and charge students to pay. The fee they universities are taking as graduation ceremony fee is too much, is too high and I think until parliament approve such fee, they are acting in illegality,” Hon Nortsu-Kotoe stated.

The Akatsi lawmaker who is the Minority Spokesperson on Education , made this in an interview with THE REPUBLIC after he queried the Minister of Education on the floor of parliament Wednesday morning February 13, in Accra.

“Mr Speaker, I rise to ask the Minister for Education what steps the Ministry is taking to stop public universities from charging high graduation fees on students.?, he asked the Minister.

In response, the Minister for Education, Dr MathewOpoku Prempreh said, he was unaware of the charges as the Minority MP sought to know and that all public Universities have been informed on the fact that fees and charges have to be vetted and approved by Parliament in accordance with the Fees and Charges Act.

According to him, proposals on the fee charges have been collated from the various public institutions and submitted through the Ministry of Finance to Parliament for the 2016/2017 academic year, adding that, “approval for the submitted proposals are still pending.”

He added that, the Ministry was yet to receive information from the Finance Ministry to that effect, stating, “Mr. Speaker, we exhausted the 2017/2018 academic year without receiving the necessary approval on the proposals submitted.”

Dr Prempreh assured that, he would take initiative and cross check from the Universities and ensure that they comply with the laws, especially the Fees and Charges Act , emphasizing that, “public tertiary institutions remain frozen at 2016/2017 rates, until we secure approval from parliament on the new rates. Our only challenge is the delay in receiving approval.”

But Hon Nortsu-Kotoe said, though he wasn’t satisfied with the response by the Minister, he took consulate on the fact that, the Minister appeared not to be aware of or did not understand the import of the question.

He expressed the view that, the Public University unilateral decisions to charge graduation fees without approval of parliament amounted to illegality and want the Minister to take the necessary steps to ensure that the public Universities adhere to the laws governing fee charges in the country.

When asked of his views on the government plans to introduce a Centralized placement system for admission into tertiary institutions in Ghana, the Akatsi North lawmaker said, thought the idea is laudable it might face serious challenges because, the Universities are run on faculty bases.

The Centralised University Admissions and Placement Service (CAPS) is to replace what many described as stressful and expensive system of applying to different universities.

But again, Mr Nortsu-Kotoe who is also a member on the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of parliament said , the current system though stressful, the Centralised admission system should be such that, the applicants has the right to their choices of university on a single platform.

In reacting to the media reports that, the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service are working to offer graduates of basic education up to SHS a diploma certificate that could afford them opportunity to be employed in any sector of the economy, the Akatsi North MP said, the current state of our educational system as it is now per the demands of the employment sector SHS diploma should not be a priority.

In his considered opinion, beside the fact that there are overwhelm number of basic schools in the country, It doesn’t make any economic sense as a poor nation to ask everybody to have a university education before being accepted in the work environment.

He added that, awarding diploma certificate to basic schools students of over 6,000 schools would not impact anything since the country basic schools are not specially train schools.
The Minority Ranking on Education said, unlike professional diploma award institutions like the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Ghana Institute of Languages and the University of Education Winneba that have specialised professional diploma courses and could award certificates on their own, the SHS could not.

“Ordinarily, SHS certificate should be enough for anybody to get a job at any sector of our economy. This is when we have a system working but things have changed and we should not deceived ourselves, ” he argued.

He noted that, there is a problem with the current system of our education, pointing that, ” We need to take another look at our duration system, but for now I don’t think awarding SHS with High National Diploma would be the solution. I am not too sure the suggestion to award Diploma at that level should be a priority.”

Source : therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba

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