Chancellor of Regent University College of Science and Technology;
Chairman and members of Regent University College Council;
Chancellor of Pentecost University College & President of Ghana Pentecostal Council;
Vice Chancellor of KNUST, our main mentoring institution;
President of Trinity Theological Seminary, the mentoring institution for our Theology programmes;
Dean Director of Maastricht School of Management, the partner institution for our joint MBA programme;
Chairman of Council of Heads of Private Universities of Ghana;
Vice Chancellors, Presidents, Heads, friends and representatives of sister institutions;
Nananom, Niimei, ke Naa me
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Honourable members of parliament;
Hardworking faculty and staff
Members of the Press;
Distinguished Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I welcome all of you again to today’s beautiful ceremony; we are very grateful for being here today with us.
PURPOSE OF GATHERING
We have gathered here today, principally to confer various degrees and awards upon some determined men and women, who have successfully completed their academic studies. These are men and women who were determined to add value to themselves by pursuing higher education, which will empower them for life so that they will be able to chart their own destinies, and hopefully, also contribute to the development of this country or their home countries.
We will also at this gathering, recognise and appreciate the efforts of some of our hard-working, staff. These include some of our faculty members who have taken research and publication aspect of their vocation seriously, and have been able,within this academic year, to expand the frontiers of knowledge. Other category of hard-working staff we are to publicly appreciate and recognise are some of our workers who have offered a self-less and dedicated service to this institution, and to humanity. These include those who were involved in our rural educational empowerment programme.
Mr Chairman, we had previously planned and arranged to recognise, one of our own, Mr Charles Ampofo, who has made major strides in international business, and has distinguished himself in the oil and gas industry. To this honourable gentleman, the University Council had planned to confer upon him, an honorary fellow of Regent University, with all the rights and privileges associated with it. Physical indisposition has made this important aspect of our programme today impossible. Let’s all continue to pray for him for his speedy recovery. We will arrange at a later date, to confer this honour on him.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: As required by the Statutes of this University, I am also expected, at this gathering, to present a report, accounting for our stewardship since our last congregation. We have uploaded the said Report for the 2011 and 2012 Academic year on our website. We will encourage all our stakeholders to find time to read it. For the purpose of our meeting today, I will want to highlight some few items which appear in the Report, and then share some of my thoughts on funding education in Ghana, and on politics in Ghana today. I will finally give a charge to the new Graduates.
SYNOPSIS OF REPORT
Goals in Pursuit of Our Vision and Mission
Our vision to become a world-class university within the shortest possible time, remains unchanged. This undoubtedly calls for, in all areas, continued hard work, discipline, perseverance, courage, and above all, Divine grace. The continued mobilization of human, material, and financial resources, among other things, have remained a priority on our agenda. We have made some progress towards enhancing our staff profile, improving our academic and administrative systems, and arrangements towards the construction of our purpose-built, state-of-the art main campus.
Currently seven of our staff are pursuing doctoral studies with various institutions. One other staff is pursuing a master’s programme in Information Systems Security at our partner institution in Sweden. We expect more to follow suit in the upcoming years. Some of our staff have made very significant progress with regard to publications. Their names are listed in the brochure. In the course of the year, some of our academic staff also attended some international conferences and presented papers. The details can be found in the President’s Report.
Enhancement of our Academic Systems: Eduportal
To enhance our academic and administrative systems, we have signed an agreement with the United Bank for Africa, to operate an online educational system, which we have named UBA/Regent-Ghana Eduportal. It is hoped that this software will enhance our efforts to operate as a truly ICT driven institution.
Purpose-Built Main Campus
In connection with our proposed purpose built campus, there have been a slight delay in our proposed timelines, nevertheless, we expect the first phase of the project which consists of Academic Block and Hostel facilities to start soon. The second phase, God willing, will start by June 2013. This consists of Administrative Block, Library, Sports Hall, Auditorium, and Cafeteria. The remoulding works for the existing structure will start within the next two weeks.
We expect to be able to move all our satellite campuses to this new site by June 2013. This will indeed enable us to cut down on our operational costs, improve our efficiency level and also increase our student intake.
Academic Programmes and Collaborations
Currently the university runs 16 academic programmes; nine of these are validated by KNUST. We will be running Master of Philosophy in Statistics and BSc in Statistics jointly with KNUST in the course of the year.
Our MSc in Human Development and Psychology programme, will start during the coming Summer. This is a collaborative programme with Wheelock College, Boston, USA.
Mr Chairman, our principal mentoring institution has continued to be KNUST. We have continued to enjoy a very good relationship with this institution. We are optimistic that this relationship will continue to flourish for the mutual benefit of our two institutions, in the upcoming years. With us today is Prof S. O. Affram, representing the Vice Chancellor. He is here with the Assistant Registrar in charge of Affiliations, Mr Agyepong. Prof Afram and Mr Agyepong, thank you very much for coming; we highly appreciate the relationship we share with KNUST.
Our Theology and Ministry Department’s programmes are still being validated by the Trinity Theological Seminary. Our collaboration with Trinity has also been very useful. The Revd Dr J.O.Y. Mantey, the current President of the institution, is with us today. At the appropriate time, he will be called upon to bring his fraternal greetings, and also confer the degree of Bachelor of Theology and Management upon two of our students who have successfully completed their programmes.
Our prestigious, internationally accredited MBA which we are currently offering has been made possible through joint efforts with Maastricht School of Management, the leading, globally net-worked, management school. The Dean Director, Prof. Dr. Peter P. De Gijsel, was with us during our last year’s graduation. This year, he has been very generous to be present with us again, to confer the MBA degrees. With him is Mrs Dolores McIntyre-Godfrey, the MBA Coordinator at Maastricht. Peter and Dolores, thanks a lot for coming. We highly appreciate your time and the efforts you have put into our partnership. At the appropriate time, Peter will be invited to bring his fraternal greetings and also confer the MBA degree on some of our students. Already, 13 students of this batch graduated in Maastricht last year. I am happy to announce that we will be hosting MSM Doctor of Business Administration and Ph.D in Business Administration programmes here in Ghana, in the course of the year after the required local accreditation has been obtained.
As an institution, our social vision has remained strong and focused. Detailed information on this will be found in the President’s Report online. I wish however, in this presentation, to highlight on our Rural School Empowerment Project at Adimadim-Kyenku Larbi, near Suhum, in the Ayensuano Constituency in the Eastern Region.
The University currently has two paid-staff teaching at the School. This arrangement has been going on for the past three years. We have also continued to provide housing for two of the government’s own teachers in this school. These and other interventions, have started yielding positive results. At the recent Basic Education Certificate Examinations, the school’s results improved from 26% pass in the previous year’s examination to an outstanding 71% last year. Following this remarkable performance, a neighbouring JHS was closed down by the District Education officer and its students transferred to our sponsored school.
The University’s work on the existing school block has been resumed. The fixing of doors, windows, and facial board are now complete. Painting work is expected to commence soon. We have also constructed a four-seater water-closet toilet facilities for the school. As soon as the construction of the underground water tank is complete, and rain gutter is provided, the facility will become operational. Plans are also underway to start a Kindergarten in this rural community. I am glad to also state that due to strong advocacy and other interventions initiated by our University this remote rural community will, within the next couple of weeks, enjoy electricity supply from the national grid.
Currently, we are also sponsoring four students at the Senior High School level, in different schools in the country. We are also sponsoring one person at the university level. In addition to these, there are several students who are on scholarship at our University College pursuing various programmes.
The University has also organised free remedial classes at Larteh Akuapem to enable some young people in the town to rewrite the West African School Certificate Examination.
NATIONAL ISSUES: DEVELOPING OUR NATION
Educating our People
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: one of the challenges plaguing the educational system in Ghana is the inability of intellectually capable people to be in school because of serious financial challenges. We have situations where students cannot move beyond the Basic Education Certificate Level because their parents cannot afford. Similar challenges are found at the tertiary level where qualified high school graduates cannot move on to the tertiary level due to financial challenges. We also have situations where very bright people manage to enter the universities but drop out in the process of time, because of financial constraints.
In the past, at the tertiary level, the situation was that there were not enough space in the existing public universities to enable them absorb all qualified high school graduates; now the situation is different. Our nation today can boast of over 68 accredited diploma and degree awarding institutions. All combined, should be able to absorb all qualified students from our high schools. The challenge today, however, is prospective students’ inability to pay the required fees. There are those who are admitted into the public universities as fee-paying students but are unable to pay. There are also those who are unable to enrol in the private universities because the same problem. Mr Chairman, I think one research that is urgently needed to be conducted in this country, is the research which will inform policy makers regarding the number of qualified prospective university students who could neither enrol in the public universities or in the private universities because of lack of money. If we really care about developing the human capital in our nation, then policy makers, I hope, will take this need seriously.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: it is when our population and our workforce at all levels, is sufficiently educated, trained, and mobile to take advantage of new advances in technology and in techniques and organisation of production that our nation can develop. It is also true that democracy cannot be consolidated in our country and on our continent, when the bulk of our population are not educated and empowered to enable them take decisions regarding who governs them, how they are governed, and how the nation’s resources are exploited and used. As a new and as a continent, it appears only few people benefit from our resources.
As a nation, one of the subjects that we have not been able to adequately address, is the subject of funding of tertiary education. Previous attempts to address the issue, was almost exclusively concentrated on public universities. The subject, as it applies to private universities, came as an after thought. The invitation to the private universities was delivered two days or so before the starting date of National Educational Conference which was organised for this purpose.
For our nation to develop, a more comprehensive approach regarding the funding of tertiary education as a whole, should be investigated. We have had the occasion of suggesting that a bank for education, which will specialise, among other things, in granting of concessionary loans with flexible terms of payment to individuals to finance their education be established. This type of bank can also grant soft loans to educational institutions for them to expand. Funds for this type of bank could come from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust. The GETFund Law can also be changed to enable the Fund to contribute to the establishment of such a bank. Other forms of raising the money required can also be explored.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: In spite of the huge contributions the private universities are making to the development of this nation, and the fact that the bulk of them are not-for-profit companies, and the fees charged by most of these private universities are at the same level as the fees chargeable by the public universities to fee paying students, the private universities are seen by the policy makers, consciously or unconsciously, as privately owned commercial entities, so the issue of support does not even arise. Of recent memory, if there is any issue about the private universities that has ever been on the agenda of policy makers, then it is the issue of quality assurance as it affects them. But this has to change if our nation is to move forward. In countries like the Philippines where university enrolment level is very high, the private sector provides about 80%. It is therefore my conviction that when the private universities are adequately resourced and carefully monitored by all stakeholders, they will continue to play a very significant role in our nation’s development.
The Politics We Need
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: once again, the election bells are ringing, and our teeth are set on edge! The destiny of our nation is at stake. But why should a time like this, cause “fear and panic”? Politics, in its truest sense, is about leadership seeking the mandate of the people, so that it can work for the development of the nation, and the wellbeing of the people. To be in politics in this sense, is to be in business that works and seeks the welfare of those being led or those we intend to lead. Unfortunately, in our part of the world, politics is understood in the reverse order. Politics has become synonymous with lordship, job for the boys, good pay, enhanced privileges, and the winner takes all mentality. Politics , is not understood in terms of assuming responsibility; rather, it is understood in terms of enjoyment! Does it surprise us that in African politics, it appears, without exception , the only thing that our parliamentarians, those in opposition and those in government never disagrees, is when it comes to their salaries and allowances. Is this the kind of politics that will transform Ghana, or Africa?
Politics as we have it in our country and our continent today, is contrary to the spirit of true politics. The politics where we are willing to maim and kill, the politics where we determine to consistently paint our opponents as beasts and criminals of the highest class, the politics where we are willing to win power or retain power at all cost, and by all necessary means, is alien to true politics. Unless this distorted understanding of politics is changed, Africa will continue to have self-acclaimed messiahs on the political scene, who, more often than not, are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
More than ever before, in the face of seemingly intractable problems confronting our nation and our continent, and the overwhelming sense of failure of political leadership and the technocrats who support their efforts, our people are desperately asking why in an increasingly intensity. We must provide the answers!
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: There is still hope for the future; but this will require a great effort on the part of leadership. There is a cry for a better Ghana, and a new Africa. People are fed up with the status quo.
With visionary and ethical leadership at all levels, collective effort, hard work, dedication, and sacrifice, we can transform our country and indeed our continent within a short period. Things begin to happen, when, under dynamic leadership, people decide to take their destiny into their own hands and work towards a good cause. It is our ability to confront and overcome our challenges today, that will create for us a better world that we all dream of. But this will require a great effort on the part of leadership. The destiny of our nation is in our hands. As a nation, we cannot allow some few, greedy and self-fish individuals to take us for a ride. We must insist on ethical, effective and responsible leadership. The future is indeed in our hands.
MESSAGE TO THE GRADUATING CLASS
Now let me address the graduating class. Graduating Class of 2012: Congratulations; your efforts have been worthwhile. You are going into a world that is bleeding because of injustice, exploitation, poverty, disease, and filth. You have the God-given capacity to make a difference in the midst of these challenges. I urge you to go and live with an unbounded optimism in the future. The future belongs to our God. The future is therefore our future! Be as wise as the serpent, and as holy as the dove, Jesus says. With the fear of God, a vision and a strong passion for change, hard-work, discipline, courage and perseverance, you can create a better future for yourselves, your children and generations to come. Honour God and submit to his will in all you do. Have a vision for life; develop a discomfort for the status quo. Render good and selfless service to your motherland and all those you come in contact with and do need your help. With God on your side, you can never fail.
CONCLUSION AND BENEDICTION
Mr Chairman, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: Ghana shall be saved; Africa shall be saved! This is our time. The Future is bright! Let’s go and conquer our world. Thank you very much for coming; may our good LORD bless us all.