The Minister of State-designate in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, has defended the four-year Senior High School curriculum saying that students who went through that system performed better than their counterparts who went through the three year course system.

He, however, proposed a window to be opened for well-endowed schools that could complete the three year system with the hope of posting good performance without restrictions.

Prof Yankah shared his views on the matter when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament on Monday.

Answering questions on a wide range of issues, he described the complaints that private universities were much more expensive that public ones as a myth noting that the gap between public and private universities was narrowing.

Prof. Yankah, who is currently the Vice-Chancellor of the Central University College, spoke about the fact that many universities had evolved leaving their core mandate behind.

He submitted that tertiary institutions had moved away from their original courses and programmes and cited the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science programmes and Technology (KNUST) as one such institution running many non-science programmes that did not encourage the younger universities to cut a niche for their own programmes.

Culture of reading

Touching on the need to improve reading culture of reading among school children, Prof Yankah underscored the need for parents to read to their children to sleep to imbibe in them a good reading culture.

According to the university don, two per cent of primary school children could hardly read and write English and any other Ghanaian language and called for enough reading text books to be supplied to schools, especially the deprived ones to help change the situation.

He touched on the need to take a second look at the manner internship programmes for students were done and asked students to move away from the stereotype of the fixation of doing their internship at the prestigious companies.

GETFund support

Prof. Yankah called for equity in terms of disbursing funds from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for both private and public tertiary institutions Equity for tertiary institutions.

“We don’t need to delude ourselves that GETfund is for public universities but for all private and public institutions to benefit. We ought to fight to clearly understand the GETFund law for people to understand,” he added.

Asked whether he supported the compulsory retirement of 60 years involving teachers and lecturers who still had the drive to impact knowledge, Prof Yankah indicated that there was a youth bulge out there who needed to be mentored to take up the mantle of leadership after retirement.

He retired lecturers could still take up positions at the private tertiary institutions and lecture.

When asked how he was going to manage the teacher unions, Prof Yankah said he would bring his negotiations skills to bear on the job to win their support and cooperation.

Minister of State for Agriculture

The Minister of State-designate for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr Gyiele Nurah who took his turn said he was going to support the substantive minister by way of monitoring and evaluating programmes to boost the food needs of the country.

He mentioned the need for support life skill irrigation development and expressed concern that most of the public facilities in the northern part of the country such as dams had broken down and promised to advise minister to restructure the management of irrigation dams in Ghana.

“All broken dams must be repaired and serviceable. We also need to develop surface water abstraction and develop dug outs and utilise rivers by pumping water from the rivers to supply villages with the water,” Dr Nurah added.

Talking about improving the efficient use of water, the nominee said there were plans to introduce sprinkler irrigation where irrigation was possible throughout the country to guarantee all year round irrigation for farmers.

On ensuring guarantee prices for food production, the minister of state designate mentioned commodity exchange where the farmer would be compelled to sell immediately after harvest and also have farmers deposit their produce at designated places to guarantee price stabilisation.

Deputy Interior Minister-designate

The last to appear before the committee was the Deputy Minister-designate for the Interior, Mr Henry Quartey, who condemned the violent behaviour some vigilante groups causing mayhem in the country.

He said he would support his minister to deal with such groups and gave the assurance to depoliticise the police service.

Mr Quartey who is also the MP for Ayawaso Central was asked what he would do to ensure that personnel in the security agencies who have not been promoted after furthering their education, he pointed out that the minister was currently in discussion to see how best those officers on their own who studied without permission from the security agencies were given a leverage.

The deputy minister-designate expressed his commitment to partner the minister to reform the country’s prisons.