Take your hands off Technical Universities – TUTAG cautions NCTE

General News of Thursday, 5 October 2017

Source: Myjoyonline.com

2017-10-05

Uni TechFile photo

The Technical University Teachers Association of Ghana (TUTAG) has cautioned the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) to stop meddling in the affairs of Technical Universities Governing Councils.

TUTAG at a press conference Wednesday said it will be compelled to drag NCTE to court if it does put an end to its incessant interference in the running of the various schools.

Chairman of the Association Peter Awini said the NCTE has been directing Governing Councils of the various Technical Universities despite the directives in the Technical Universities Act, 2016.

He said the NCTE has deliberately been sidestepping the Act to assert its authority.

Below is the full statement

A PRESS STATEMENT BY THE TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF GHANA (TUTAG), TAKORADI TECHNICAL UNIVEERSITY CHAPTER, ON THE THEME: THE ILLEGAL DIRECTIVES BY NCTE.

Introduction

The National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) continues to play important advisory and facilitation roles for effective functioning and management of tertiary institutions in Ghana in fulfillment of its functions as contained in Section 2 (1) of Act 454, 1993. The NCTE has overseen an expansion of the frontiers of tertiary education in Ghana, including the recent conversion of some polytechnics to Technical Universities by providing leadership, and guidance in line with established conversion criteria. The Councils of the converted polytechnics to Technical Universities became Interim Councils under section 42 (1) of the Technical Universities Act, 2016 (ACT 922) and performed functions under section 6 of the Act until they were dissolved. The NCTE issued a number of directives in a letter dated September 19, 2017 to the six recently inaugurated substantive Governing Councils of the Technical Universities which clearly contravene provisions of the Technical Universities Act.

The Issues

The NCTE played a key role towards the enactment of the Technical Universities Act 2016, (Act 922) which provides sufficient legal framework for the conversion of Polytechnics to Technical Universities in Ghana. The Technical Universities Act is unambiguous and unequivocal in providing that the Governing Council of a Technical University is the body responsible for enacting Statutes to ensure implementation of the Act. For the avoidance of doubt, section 26 of the Act states “A Council shall ensure the implementation of this Act by Statutes which shall, in particular (a) regulate the (i) appointment, (ii) conditions of service, (iii) termination of appointment, and etc”

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, in spite of the crystal clear provisions of the Technical Universities Act as have been alluded to, the NCTE has submitted the following draft documents to the Governing Council of each Technical University, demanding that those draft documents be circulated as appropriate and inputs received for the NCTE to subsequently produce the final versions of the documents concerned for the approval of Governing Councils:

Harmonised Statutes for Technical Universities

Harmonised Scheme of Service for Staff of Technical Universities

Harmonised Conditions of Service for Senior Members and for Senior and Junior Staff of Technical Universities

The NCTE further directs the Governing Councils that no substantive appointments shall be made to positions in the Technical Universities until the proposed ‘harmonised Statutes’ have been approved.

Ladies and gentlemen, the following breaches of the Technical Universities Act by the NCTE and indeed, other enactments, and or implications thereof are obvious:

The NCTE’s directive regarding the enactment of the “harmonised” Statutes of a Technical University contravenes section 26 of the Act which confers the power to enact Statutes to ensure implementation of the Act on the Council of each Technical University. According to Section 41 of the Act, Statutes mean “administrative guidelines enacted by the Council of a Technical University in accordance with this Act to govern the internal operations of a Technical University”. It is therefore palpable that the NCTE is seeking to usurp the powers of Councils of the Technical Universities in relation to enactment of Statutes. Is NCTE impugning the quality and expertise of the Councils to enact appropriate Statutes to implement the Act, hence its move to “save the day”?

The NCTE’s directive on ratification of “harmonised” Conditions of Service contravenes several sections of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) which relate to the right of workers to negotiate terms and conditions of employment in Ghana.

The Council of a Technical University is required to provide opportunity and appropriate forum to conduct negotiations on the Conditions of Service for staff. The right of staff of Technical Universities to negotiate the relevant terms and conditions of service would be denied or severely curtailed if the proposed procedure by NCTE prevails.

The directive by the NCTE that no substantive appointments shall be made to positions that would require a search process until the proposed “harmonised” Statutes have been approved flies in the face of the Transitional Provisions of the Technical Universities Act. Section 42 (1) of the Act states that “until the establishment of a Council of a Technical University under section 5, the Council of a polytechnic converted to a Technical University shall be an Interim Council of each Technical University which shall function for a period of not more than one year”. Section 42 (4) also states that “any action taken by the Interim Council before the first meeting of the Council of a Technical University shall have the same effect as if done by the Council”. This means, for example, that if an Interim Council of a polytechnic converted to a Technical University approved Statutes in accordance with the Technical Universities Act, those Statutes have the same effect as if done by the current Council. Will the current Council be in breach of the Act or any other enactment if it makes substantive appointments to positions guided by the Statutes approved by the Interim Council? A huge no.

It is instructive to note that the Technical Universities Act does not enjoin all Technical Universities to enact harmonised Statutes, agree harmonised Conditions of Service, or institute harmonised Scheme of Service for staff.

The reason(s) may not be far fetched. The framers of the Act recognise that each Technical University is affected by unique circumstances (opportunities and threats), and should be afforded the flexibility required through their respective Statutes to maximise their unique situations. For example, a look at the mission statements of some Technical Universities in Ghana suggests that while Takoradi Technical University focuses on developing technology and skills relevant to the most prominent industry within the local community and administrative region in the areas of energy, oil and gas, Sunyani Technical University focuses on developing agricultural technology for the local industry. It is obvious that harmonised Statutes etc would not necessarily translate into harmonised circumstances and tangible benefits for all.

In view of the foregoing, and the potential legal battle that may ensue with obvious repercussions for technical education in Ghana, we appeal to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana, the Minister of Education, and all stakeholders who have technical education at heart, to call the NCTE to order. The NCTE is clearly acting ultra vires relative to the matters in issue.

LONG LIVE TUTAG! LONG LIVE ALL SISTER UNIONS IN SOLIDARITY! LONG LIVE TECHNICAL EDUCATION IN GHANA!

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PETER AWINI

TUTAG President-Takoradi Technical University Chapter

024 332 2943/020 047 8595/024 494 3873/020 921 9419

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