University of Education Alumni; Stand Proud!

Today I should not have published. Spending several days in Kumasi, conducting interviews in English and expecting my respondents to answer me in English, do you get the trouble? Then later I ended up eating what looked like a fermented okro stew. Yester night, it was not easy at all oo, come and see me and myself, battling it out somewhere, and holding myself together.

But reading the revelations, and the counter revelations, from Ghana’s Electoral Commissioners was even more annoying. It made me feel like I should have remained in that bush, it would have served me better, than getting to know who in the Electoral Commission stole the most money.

Today I vowed to conclude my series on the University of Education. But Charlotte Osei and her friends have ensured that I have a divided attention; currently I am writing on the issue of the university while thinking about the thieves within the Electoral Commission. This is exactly what Simpa Panyin hates; adults who steal, and blame it on others when they are caught, and find reasons why they are being witch-hunted, and we find our politicians jumping to their defense.

These are some of the instances that make me wish the Sharia Law, whatever it looks like, was introduced in Ghana. There are too many polished faces who are simply rotten within, all taking public salute, and being celebrated in our churches and mosques. All these have made going to church and mosques an ordeal, the church, a center for the celebration of God, or a center for the celebration of thieves?

Anyway, I will not allow Charlotte Osei and her seeming brigade of thieves to deprive me of concluding my series on the University of Education. I will not be distracted, even if the final product is not as good as Simpa Panyin has been known for, I will still resist the temptation presented to me presently.

So I returned from Kumasi yesterday, after leaving that bush. As I drove pass Bekwai, through Yamoransa, where I bought some great fante kenkey and some fresh fried fish, I kept thinking to myself; what is it that can be done to turn the University of Education around? What could my role be in getting this piece of institution match the world with its existence?

The University recently put itself to test; expired governing council, alleged unchecked administration, legal suits, shut down, re-opened, suspension of principal officers, all bordering on accountability, and the soul of the university.

I have received several scores of messages, and calls, and delegations, and visitors, from all manner of people, students, alumni members, staff, lecturers, those for and against, all have shared their stories. I have received each person with fair mind, the neutral, the worried, and all.

I am happy that finally we have a breather; last week a new Governing Council of the University was established, and inaugurated, with an Acting Vice Chancellor, Reverend Father Professor Anthony Afful Broni, sworn in. The new Council, Chaired by Professor Abakah, a former Pro Vice Chancellor of the University, has held its first council meeting, and, at least, we now have some stability, after nearly eight weeks of solid storm.

I am a firm believer in the fact that nothing gets better if it does not initially get rotten. When you sow maize, it will have to rot, before it germinates to give you corn. Yam will first rot before it sprouts, and cassava will do same before it grows its stems. That is why the temporary turbulence that the University of Education is going through may as well be the treatment that is necessary for its health.

Nearly all the universities in Ghana have had their share of storms, but they have all come out solid. The Methodist University College was nearly lynched for their indebtedness to a bank. As members of the Methodist Church, we were called upon to contribute to redeem the school. Just when we thought the storm was over, the school was again hit with a scandal, over one hundred students threatened to sue the university because of accreditation issues.

The story is not different from those of UCC, KNUST, UG, UDS, and many others. They have all gone through their storms, with many still managing the remnant thereof.

Many of us have been alumni members of other universities, beside the University of Education, and, I dare say that UEW is still in the top five universities in the country.

In September 2001, I had the honor of organizing the Congress of the National Union of Ghanaian Students (NUGS) in Cape Coast. I was then the National Programs Officer of the union, and my cohort was ending its term, so this congress was to elect a new cohort to take over the affairs of the union.

Contesting for the Presidency of the Union, at the time, were Dr. Edward Omane Boamah (the immediate past Communications Minister under President John Mahama), and Honorable Edward Bawa (the current MP for Bongo). Omane Boamah was then a medical student at Korle Bu, while Edward Bawa was a level 300 student at the University of Education, Winneba; essentially a Legon versus Winneba affair. The contest ended with Edward Bawa beating Omane Boamah to become the President of the union.

In the year 2013, a lecturer friend of mine, Professor Yaw Sakyi Baidoo, introduced a young lady, Juanita Sallah, to me in my office. Juanita had developed interest in human trafficking, and therefore was exploring opportunities to create awareness on the issue. As we sat in my office listening to Juanita, I kept murmuring in my head, wow...! Wow…! I could not help but to admire the strings of new words, beautifully crafted and spoken, and the attendant flow of confidence that made me wonder if Juanita schooled in Ghana. Juanita later went on to work with Radio XYZ, a stint with Citi FM, and lately GHone Television, and now runs her own organization, Quest GH Network.

Both Juanita and Edward Bawa are alumni members of the University of Education, and both of them are competing in their own worlds, one in politics, and the other in the media.

There are several hundreds of thousands of Bawas and Juanitas out there in the world who graduated from the University of Education that we must be proud of. The University of Ghana, and many of the other public universities, have been able to successfully market themselves, better than the University of Education, and that has made a lot of difference for them.

Our students are taught by similarly qualified lecturers. Professor Ansah Koi for instance taught me Political Science when I was studying in Legon. That was even before he became a lawyer, and a professor. Today Professor Ansah Koi teaches MPhil Human Rights at the University of Education, even more qualified than when he was teaching me in Legon.

Brew Riverson Jr was once the face of Ghana’s film industry, starring in sold-out films that greeted our screens. Today he teaches Theatre Arts at the University of Education. Dr. Andy Birikorang is one of a very few Development Communication scholars in the country, having earned his PhD in Ohio.  He elected to join the Communication and Media Studies Department of the University of Education, in the face of several competing interests for his services.

If you are a corporate entity, and you have engaged any Communications Studies graduate from the University of Education, you should stand proud, that you have hired a communications specialist who passed through the hands of persons such as Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo, Tim Acquah-Hayford, and Joseph Allotey Pappoe, these are part of the cream in Ghana’s communications space.

UEW is one Ghanaian university that has gone through the most changes, and transitions, and this speaks for its internal resilience. One campus started off as Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute, to train international activists in Pan African politics, and thinking, and we are proud that President Robert Mugabe, the bravest African President, is an alumnus of this institution.

We stand proud that change has been part of us every step of the way. We hold ourselves as the center of knowledge, teaching and practice. This is the only public university in the country that makes six months industrial practice come naturally to its first degree students.

So, yes, what the University of Education is going through might have been the rotten period, discovering for itself the bottled potential, the eruption of truth, and of a period in history, a period which will allow all of us to reflect, a test of the true colors of an institution that faces the wind, blue and red, adorned in our hearts, and we know that once all the dry leaves are shed, we shall match on, and shall be counted as thorough bred products of Winneba, and all the saints shall say...