Opinions of Tuesday, 6 September 2016
Columnist: Tsikata & Dotse2016-09-06
Reflection: Prof Amartey's appointment as Vice-Chancellor of UPSA
By Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata & Dr. A. Kobla Dotse Director
The appointment of (Professor) Abednego Feehi Okoe Amartey to the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), is perhaps the most outrageous bastardization of Ghana’s university education since independence.
In our view, no member of the UPSA University Council deserve to keep his/her job. For those who do not know the facts, let’s start with his biographical sketch:
(Prof.) Abednego Feehi Okoe Amartey completed a master’s of philosophy degree in Marketing at the University of Ghana Legon-Accra, on July 25, 2013 (2:00 PM). By 2015 he held two doctorate degrees. The implication is that all three degrees—his M.Phil., Ph.D. from Central University of Nicaragua, and DBA from SMC—were running concurrently. The first one is an online doctorate degree from the infamous Swiss Management Center (SMC), which does not have institutional accreditation anywhere in the world but was mysteriously registered by the Ghana National Accreditation Board (NAB).
According to the NAB rules, academic certificates from any institution that does not have institutional accreditation is not valid. Hence, by implication, (Prof.) Amartey’s SMC certificate cannot be valid. Anyone in doubt can call or visit the NAB and find out whether or not SMC ever had an institutional accreditation (NOT a program accreditation).
And whether or not an institute without an institutional accreditation anywhere in the world can operate in Ghana and issue valid certificates.
(Prof.) Amartey’s second doctorate certificate was literally bought from Central University of Nicaragua. There is no requirement of coursework or dissertation writing to secure this “doctorate” degree. All you have to do is to pay US$10,000, after receiving the questionable SMC certificate.
In 2016, he was promoted to Associate Professor (by the UPSA Council) and also becomes the Pro-Vice Chancellor of UPSA, and, now in the same 2016, Vice Chancellor of UPSA. If Abednego had enrolled in a regular doctorate degree program at University of Ghana or elsewhere (after his M.Phil. degree), where he will be required to take courses and write a dissertation under the supervision of professors, he would have been hoping to complete his doctorate degree next year (2017) at the latest.
Supposed the university retains him as a lecturer upon completion of the program in 2017, it would have taken him not less than 5 years to become a senior lecturer in 2022, and at least 3 more years to become Associate Professor. In short (Prof.) Amartey could have become Associate Professor in 2025 or beyond at the University of Ghana, a sister public university in Ghana.
The same tenure tracking system applies to University of Cape Coast (UCC) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
However, these promotions are largely based on one’s research contribution, which explains why most university teachers do not attain professorial ranks before they retire. Unfortunately, individuals with questionable certificates, like the SMC doctorate degrees, who teach in universities do not have the basic skills required to publish in impact factor journals. As a result, they submit their often sub-standard articles to journals that are hosted by faceless crooks.
The journals, often known as predatory journals, have one primary objective: just publish anything submitted if the author can pay. Articles published in such sources are considered worthless. Unfortunately, and sadly, those are the articles used by the UPSA Council to promote some of these lecturers to professorial ranks.
We challenge (Prof.) Okoe to publish his full CV online, with his publications for an independent review. The public can then compare his CV with those of the Vice Chancellors of the other premier Ghanaian universities. The same “cooked” criterion for promotion applies to Rev. (Prof. Dr. Dr.) Mrs. Goski Alabi, who was recently promoted full professorship and also based on the questionable double doctorate degrees from both SMC and Central University of Nicaragua:
(Please follow the link to her academic profile: http://newsite.upsa.edu.gh/staff/goski-bortiokor-alabi-prof).
Indeed, the double doctoral degree holders from the SMC and Central University of Nicaragua must be the most intelligent people our country has ever produced. They could teach, publish, enjoy family life, and undertake two well-constituted doctoral programs concurrently, with one of them pursuing an M.Phil. in addition.
The appointment of a Vice-Chancellor is a worthy news that deserves spaces in our newspapers. But in this particular case of (Prof.) Abednego Feehi Okoe Amartey, it is simply a hasty decision which is meant to validate and solidify the SMC qualifications, which have come under public scrutiny as a results of the alarms we have raised in our investigative report.
The notion is that, if we can use this appointment to shore up the credibility of the SMC and Central University of Nicaragua degrees, then all those who hold these degrees can rest assured that their degrees are worthy in the eyes of the public. All we can say is that, Ghanaians are not fools.
The irony is that Ghanaian taxpayers are unknowingly paying higher salaries and allowances to individuals holding questionable doctorate certificates from SMC, the Central University of Nicaragua, and many other unaccredited institutions teaching in Ghanaian institutions, a situation that is bound to further impact negatively on an already deteriorating tertiary level education.
We can only imagine the agony and frustration of many lecturers at UPSA and other sister universities who have worked hard to obtain their PhDs as well as those working even harder to get their papers published in credible journals for promotion.
A painful process that others have fraudulently zoomed through, and are paradoxically rewarded by a university council at the end! Something is absolutely wrong with our dear country. We are once again appealing to the Ministry of Education to exercise its oversight mandate in investigating and evaluating the SMC and the Central University of Nicaragua PhDs in order to determine their equivalence to that of any PhD from accredited Ghanaian universities or their foreign counterparts.
If these qualifications are found to be wanting, they must be revoked or their holders placed under the tutelage of any Ghanaian university for mentoring and upgrade.
Next, we are calling on the President of the Republic of Ghana to probe the UPSA University Council and place the appointment of (Prof.) Abednego Feehi Okoe Amartey on hold with immediate effect. In South Africa, when John Molefe, the former Vice-Chancellor of the Tshwana University of Technology (TUT) was found to have been operating with a bogus doctoral degree from a dubious institution called St. George’s University International, he was defended by the TUT Council which appointed him.
The decision to defend Molefe clearly indicates that sometimes, members of the university council lack understanding of these issues, requiring that the policy arm of the Ministry of Education must step in to correct the fraud or the anomaly.
In the case of South Africa, it was this situation that invited the able hands of Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, to throw a (monkey) wrench in the works. The Molefe case led to the appointment of evaluators to investigate the TUT Council and Executive Management dysfunctions in the face of continuous protest from students (Readers may follow the link to this classic case here:
The Minister of Education, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, should not sit down unconcerned when such fraudulent cases of obtaining questionable academic certificates have been researched into and reported to her.
As a former Vice Chancellor herself, can she be proud of the unprincipled promotions and appointments we are witnessing at the UPSA? How long did it take her between receiving her PhD and becoming a Head of Department in Cape Coast University, let alone a Pro-Vice Chancellor and a Vice Chancellor?
We are sure individuals in the public service, our teachers, our police officers, and our university professors are all aware of how promotions are earned on the job after further training. Perhaps these new promotions and appointments we are witnessing are the “new normal” and the earlier we adjust to them, the better. These things do not augur well for tertiary education in our dear country.
Before we conclude this piece, we wish to emphasize that we identified about 10 institutions and over 40 individuals in our report. The NAB and the UPSA should not unnecessarily divert attention from those institutions and individuals by their unnecessary preemptive actions.
We have clearly indicated that the Ministry of Education is called upon to play its oversight role without further delay. In this regard, the UPSA should stop all these preemptive appointments and allow the Ministry of Education to clear the air on these matters. By having to respond to these preemptive appointments by the UPSA, this discourse might become so colored, as though it was meant to target the UPSA.
Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata Assistant Professor of Communication
Dr. A. Kobla Dotse Director, Chemical Research & Development