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Peter Nortsu-Kotoe: Ho Technical University deserves new council chairman to ensure academic freedom, financial sanctity for development


The Ho Technical University was established in 1968 as a community based technical and vocational training institute to give skill training to the youth of Ho and beyond. I remember as a young boy of 15, on 13th August 1971, when I set foot for the first time on the premises of the technical institute to write my Middle School Leaving Certificate Examination.

It was a rainy Friday so I did not have the privilege to survey the campus very well. We had wanted to join our class prefect, who two days before the MSLC Examination had received his admission letter to enter Ho Technical Institute to survey the corners of the school. That was 50 years ago.

The Ho Technical University, as it is now, went through transformation from a technical institute to a polytechnic, thereby assuming a tertiary level status in 1993 through Act 321 which gave it the mandate to award Higher National Diploma. The Ho Technical University was established by the enactment of the Technical Universities Act 2016, Act 922.

Thus the enactment made the Ho Technical University the second public university in the Volta Region after the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS). These conversions over the years to many of us opened a very wide gate to the acquisition of higher academic and skilled professions within the region than hitherto where our young ones had to struggle for limited places at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

However, the hope that the Ho Technical University would provide the needed environment for greater academic freedom and the enhancement of opportunities for all and sundry that find themselves in the university to contribute their quota to the development of the university is far from being realised.

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With the appointment of the Council of the University in 2017 under the Chairmanship of Prof. Emmanuel James Flolu, the dreams of the university are far from being achieved. There is a deep culture of silence being perpetuated on the academic staff by the Chairman of Council that senior members of staff of the university continue to work under threat and intimidation. 

There is so much apathy among members of staff that each is suspicious of the other. There is a serious divide and rule tactics being employed by the Chairman of Council that no one challenges his authority. Some members of staff; senior teaching staff, are threatened with dismissal from the university and removal as heads of faculty and department.

 This forced some members as heads of faculty dismissed or removed from their positions to go to court to seek redress. The court finally ruled in favour of these members of staff. This does not create any good environment for academic freedom because lecturers need the most peaceful mind for research and academic work.

The Chairman has on many occasions gone against the provisions of the Scheme of Service for Staff of Technical Universities as well as the Statutes of the Ho Technical University. 

There are situations where he has asked senior members of staff to apply and re-apply for lectureship in contravention of Schedule E of the Statutes of the Ho Technical University which clearly sets out the rules and procedures for appointment and promotion of senior members .The irony is that Prof. Emmanuel James Flolu was the chairman of the committee that worked on the scheme of service and the harmonized statutes for technical universities.

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As a Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Education at the time of the conversion of polytechnics to Technical Universities and later the Ranking Member when the Technical Universities Amendment Act was passed in 2017, I have the privilege to know how the committee worked.

There is therefore the need for a new page to be opened in the next chapter of the records of the Ho Technical University. The disregard for laid down procedures, rules and regulations relating to appointments from lectureship to Pro Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor must be streamlined and not be under the authority of one man.

The second problem plaguing the Ho Technical University is the amount of money that the university spends on the Council. The Council is expected by Statutes – Section 10(3) -to meet at least once per quarter, with at least one or two emergency meetings.

However, the present Council has met over forty (40) times between 2017 and 2020. The cost involved in hosting these Council meetings is outrageous. One meeting per quarter means four regular meetings in a year. Four years gives us sixteen regular meetings.

This means that emergency meetings alone are over twenty-four times. It is common knowledge that every university in Ghana has a council room and I was privileged to attend a meeting with the Chairman and the Council at the request of the Volta MPs three years ago in the council room of the university. It is therefore not acceptable that Council meetings are held in hotels in Ho, Sogakope and Ada.

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Council meetings that could take a day had to be spread over two or three days with its associate cost at the expense of the university. The Chairman has appropriated himself a university pick-up van with a driver for his rounds. There is nowhere in this country that a Council Chairman of a university is allocated a vehicle with a driver and the university is made to pay for his hotel accommodation and perdiem. 

If the University spends between Fifty Thousand and Sixty Thousand Ghana Cedis on retreats and Council meetings at hotel per session, then we can imagine what the university goes through financially.

As Chairman of Council, he is expected to be above board and not compromise his position so that he would have the moral courage to deal with anymalfeasance in the administration of the University.

Having failed in that direction, the appointing authorities for Councils of Technical Universities should scout for a very dedicated and selfless person with adequate knowledge in technological advancement to chair the Council of Ho Technical University with the objective of eliminating the culture of silence, threat and intimidating as well as halting the frivolous dissipation of the resources of the university and thus bringing about the desired academic freedom and development.

The author, Peter Nortsu-Kotoe is a Member of Parliament for Akatsi North and Ranking Member on the Education Committee of Parliament.

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