View Full Version : The University of Jesus of Nazareth of Mankessim

8th March 2011, 08:16 AM
Unlike the Biblical Jesus of Nazareth, there were no arrangements for a Judas who would kiss to betray the Son of God before the crucifixion.

Reports have it that the National Accreditation Board had issued several warnings to the University of Jesus of Nazareth to cease operation, because it was unaccredited. The college had refused to comply with the directives of the accreditation body until the Vetting and Crime Analysis Unit of the Police service zoomed in to close down the new tertiary institution. The registrar and the dean of students of the university were arrested and bailed. The founder and president, Rev. Dr Alfred Amo, may have to answer questions in a court of law when necessary.

Now, what happens to the fate of 300 students who had paid between GH800 and GH3000 for courses in business administration, nursing and journalism? We are not told whether the Mankessim based university is affiliated to an accredited institution of higher learning in Ghana or abroad, except that the name of the university reminds us of renowned learning institutions in Israel, particularly the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Just about this time last year, I wrote about the invaluable contribution private universities are making towards the education of Ghanaians students. I was quick to acknowledge Mensah Otabilís Central University and Patrick Awuahís Ashesi as good avenues of modern education. Today, Regent University, another fine private venture, stands tall in the university ratings. There is good progress at other private universities, especially the Sunyani-based Catholic University, where good student-teacher ratio has reportedly accounted for great strides towards effective learning and scholarship.

In the same article, I expressed some concern about the growth (not the mushrooming) of private universities, the calibre of their students and general issues of patronage. I also worried that if university education became too affordable, we would end up with quickie graduates with expensive degrees who couldnít spell very well. That would have enormous consequences for the employment market and our development as a developing economy. Already, we are lamenting the low standards. We lamented when we had only 3 traditional public universities. We still lament the sexy intellectual disposition of the modern university student in a laptop and Bluetooth infested environment, where pornography doesnít seem to offend sensibilities.

It sits well with these lamentations of low standards and low scholarship that the National Accreditation Board would act with such dispatch in the case of the Jesus of Nazareth University. Lectures at the Jedu campus of the university are reportedly held in make-shift structures and tents. What would the university libraries look like? What books would they stock? How many well-qualified professors or teachers with master of philosophy degrees would be prepared to teach under tents? And of course, the most crucial issue here is the calibre of the fee-paying students and their future. How would a degree in journalism from the Jesus of Nazareth University compare with a similar qualification from the Ghana Institute of Journalism? Or how would a business administration diploma course from the private university stand with the same programme at Central, Ashesi or Legonís School of Administration?

Hark, we would hesitate to brand learning under tents or trees the worst form of education, or indeed, assign labels to graduates of any university, because fine structures and modern laboratories do not necessarily define a decent place of learning. What about churches that started off in peoples homes and graduated to classrooms before the cathedral was built? Evidence abound that most successful institutions started off in conditions less satisfactory than the structures at Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus Christ, the spiritual chancellor of the university (we would assume) didnít have a particularly fantastic beginning. You wouldnít say a Herod seek-to-kill manger birth would have received official accreditation at the time. And to be fair, most of the now popular private universities that are churning out quality graduates for employment also experienced humbler manger beginnings, but we are careful to separate the jester from the joke.

The serious issues in Ghanaian education are, however, not limited to official accreditation and good facilities. High university ratings notwithstanding (By the way, the body that conducted the recent ratings that placed KNUST above Legon must be existing in space), there are basic problems in our tertiary education system that at once challenge serious intellectual work and sometimes make the whole university experience quite laughable. Apart from Ashesi and a few private institutions that have internship and work experience schemes, it is practically impossible to fit the many student numbers in the public universities into the most expansive labour scheme. As a postgraduate communications student at Legon, I was allowed only a monthís internship with a public agency. My colleagues in other disciplines did not have the luxury. Yet, the practical knowledge that internships afford students is invaluable, in terms of employment and life management. The post-university national service experience does not exactly answer to this. What works for effective training is the continuous partnership between academia and industry, and the transfer of practical skills to help explain theory.

Besides, the suspicion that the breadth of African scholarship and the depth of general intellectual work in many areas of our continental life are shallow is not exactly unfounded. Recently, George questioned in a letter to Jomo how original African scholarship is, when our intellectuals are always quick to quote the theories of western scholars (second-hand scholarship), and have not done much to develop local talent. Our degrees face equivalency problems in many North-American universities. We donít have the same concerns in Europe and the Scandinavia. Even then, we are not considered first-rate products if global university rankings make any sense at all. Of course, many Africans, especially Ghanaians who study in universities abroad, have left traceable footprints of excellence. Yet, we are not able to trace those good prints when they return to either teach or work in industry. Somehow, the local system does not give them the intellectual energy to conduct research into very basic problems or invent anything.

In the end, you can tell a peopleís character by the way they treat their animals, and judge their habits from how they eat jellybeans. We are pleased with additions, even in the midst of abundance. At the same time, we donít see the crime in lacking in the midst of plenty. Otherwise, it should bother us that our public universities do not have student newspapers and other extra curricula programmes that impact on scholarship. Our educational institutions (both public and private) have miles to go before we sleep.

Source: Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin