General News of Monday, 6 February 2017
Shortage of lecturers in the country’s major public universities is adversely affecting teaching and learning, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana has said.
Central government’s freeze on employment in the public sector, including public universities, was part of the conditionalities for the three-year International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme designed to put the country’s debt-distressed economy back on sound footing.
The erstwhile government last year, gave quotas to the universities to enable them employ some lecturers to ease the situation. The quotas, however, were inadequate to address the huge shortfall in the eight major public universities in the country.
Prof. Oduro told the B&FT that: “The present need for us is the freeze on employment that is considerably hurting the country’s universities. So we want the government to address this situation as soon as possible in order to ease that pressure on us and the students.
If you are in the university and you cannot employ, then you cannot teach; and if you cannot teach, then you are not qualified to be called a university. So that is the present need the government must address for the universities.”
The University of Ghana, for instance, was allowed to recruit only 335 lecturers out of the 1,200 needed.
National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) data show that less than 2,700 lecturers are employed in all the eight public universities, a number it describes as inadequate to teach and supervise the academic work of more than 128,326 students.
The situation, the Council observed, is affecting the quality of education amidst concerns that teachers are being asked to do more work for less reward–pushing down the attractiveness of school-level teaching as a career.
Enrolment in universities has accelerated since the 1990s when there were only government-owned institutions. In 1990/91 there were barely 10,000 people attending university in Ghana.
But currently, there are 294,237 students enrolled in both public and private universities, with public universities taking more than 70 percent of the number, NCTE figures show.
The ratio of faculty to student population is six times more than the required internationally acceptable student-to-teacher ratio in all disciplines.
For example, student-to-teacher ratio in business programmes currently stands at 161:1, which is against the normal standard of 27:1.
Lecturer-student ratio in medicine, which is supposed to be 1:12, is now at 1:30. This disproportionate ratio runs through all the other courses such as applied sciences, engineering and humanities.