The Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) has described calls for the government to support private tertiary institutions financially from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) resource as “completely misguided”.
The Director-General of the commission, Professor Mohammed Salifu, in an interview, said it was not the best practice to mix up public and private funds, adding that it would definitely create a problem in terms of ownership.
He questioned the ownership, for instance, of a lecture theatre financed with the GETFund facility in a private university.
“There are several ways in which the private sector can be supported to contribute to the delivery of tertiary education, but not directly doling out GETFund facilities to private tertiary institutions,” Prof. Salifu explained.
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Calls for amendment
There have been calls for the government to extend the GETFund facility to private tertiary institutions. The latest was from the President of the Garden City University College (GCUC) at Kenyase in the Ashanti Region, Prof. Edward Kwame Asante, who called for an amendment of the GETFund Law (Act 581, 2000) to allow private universities to also benefit from it.
He said the private universities were also contributing to the manpower development of the country and as such, should be assisted to train the needed human resources for the development of the country.
However, Prof. Salifu said running a private university was purely private business, insisting that the 1992 Constitution gave private people and institutions the right to run private tertiary institutions if they had the money and the resources, “provided you meet the accreditation requirement”.
“So if only you can demonstrate a capability that you can leverage resources from your private resources to do that, we check your ability to conform to the quality assurance criteria and then we let you go.
“But if you do not have the money, you do not have the resources, the ideas and the plan, nobody is forcing you to come into space,” Prof. Salifu insisted, adding that the GETFund had been created to support the primary infrastructure delivery by the State.
Areas of assistance
Prof. Salifu was quick to add that the position was not to suggest that the government could not help private tertiary institutions, “but the help must come through some form of indirect facilitation and not putting direct government money into them”.
He added that currently, there was some assistance the private institutions were benefiting from the government, citing for instance that tertiary institutions offering Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programmes were given a waiver to bring into the country their equipment.
Additionally, Prof. Salifu said students in private universities were qualified to access the Students’ Loan, which was a government facility, “and there is no restriction. Both public and private universities can apply for it”.
He said scholarships from the GETFund and the Scholarship Secretariat were not discriminatory against students in private universities, adding that students were at liberty to use their scholarships in private universities.
“That is how you help the institutions, but the private person who invests in education has to actually make a certain value proposition that will make it attractive for people to come in because it is a business and so, the competition there is very important.
“I have never supported that because if you mix private and public funds, everything in there has to be subject to public policy,” Prof. Salifu further explained.>Daily graphic<
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