Opinions of Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Columnist: Tsikata & Dotse2016-08-16
Rejoinder: Apology to UPSA, others
Events over the last few days since releasing our investigative report have rather emboldened us to concentrate our efforts on the sham called SMC in order to uproot the scam and all traces of it from the Ghanaian educational landscape once and for all.
This rejoinder responds to directly to the above-titled publication while also touching on the role of Daily Graphic as an accessory in promoting such fraud on ordinary Ghanaians.
Graphic Online, a subsidiary of Daily Graphic carried a short message published on Friday, August 12, 2016 by Isaac Yeboah that purports to exonerate individuals mentioned in a rejoinder in response to a press statement by the leadership of UPSA.
According to Graphic Online, they "particularly apologize to Prof. Joshua Alabi, all other individuals and institutions who were faulted as having done some wrong in the said rejoinder but which claims Graphic Online could not readily verify."
Interestingly, this publication has become a lifeline to a sinking ship, as leadership of UPSA is working hard to promote the narrative that they have received an apology from the Daily Graphic, implying that our painstaking efforts at exposing the academic fraud that has been foisted on students of UPSA and the generality of Ghanaians is unfounded and born out of malice
(the said publication is retrievable here: http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/apology-to-upsa-others.html#.V640Grc05jI.whatsapp).
Before we proceed to address the content of the two publications, we would like readers to carefully consider the following facts:
· The Swiss Management Center (SMC) was established in Switzerland but does not have accreditation from the national accreditation authority in Switzerland. This is verifiable.
The implication is that there is no national oversight of its program content, institutional capabilities (e.g., lecturers and their qualifications, standard of examinations and quality of student thesis, etc.), and infrastructural quality or standard.
· The SMC managed to secure accreditation for its programs from external bodies like ACBSP, which is commendable. This too is verifiable. But this is inadequate, since the ACBSP does not have the mandate to verify whether or not students admitted by SMC are trained and examined by qualified lecturers, as well as have good enough infrastructure (soft and hard) to support the teaching and learning process.
Note that university students do not write external examination, hence a letter grade from one university is supposed to reflect the same work done for the same grade in a sister university. Now, imagine, a profit oriented private company in Ghana sets up a university and drafts a very good academic program (e.g. MBA), which is so appealing and therefore was approved by NAB.
Without receiving institutional and infrastructural accreditation, the company begins to run the program and issued certificates. No one knows the qualification of the lecturers, whether or not the grades issued reflect the knowledge gained by the students, etc. Should we value such certificates or not? This is exactly the bone of contention!
· No accrediting institution can accredit a university that originates from another country. Please check the road map for accreditation on the website of the Ghana National Accreditation Board.
The Ghana National Accreditation Board (NAB) and the ACBSP do not have the mandate to accredit any foreign university operating in Ghana. NAB can only register a foreign institution that is already accredited in its home country or region. This follows that SMC is not accredited in Ghana and not accredited by ACBSP! Any claim to the contrary is false and tantamount to academic dishonesty.
· The NAB registered SMC by error and should be held responsible for registering an Institution that is not accredited.
As we respond to this publication and other matters arising since the release of our investigative report, we will adopt a step-by-step approach to make this matter very easy for the average reader to follow.
1. Since when has the Daily Graphic and its management come to the realization that there is the need for them to crosscheck and verify information submitted to them before publishing such information? This line of questioning is relevant to the current discussion for two important reasons.
First, instead of the Daily Graphic, as an accessory to the franchising of unwholesome awards and qualifications on Ghanaians (through its publications), apologizing to its readers for its woeful failures in crosschecking the backgrounds of the institutions and individuals who submitted self-promoting but dubious academic credentials to it for publication, the leadership of Daily Graphic is under the specious impression that it could continue to allow its strategic position in the Ghanaian media landscape to promote the scam on Ghanaians.
It is sad to note that the Daily Graphic has allowed itself to become an accessory to the franchising of unwholesome awards and qualifications on Ghanaians through its publications.
On Tuesday May 3, 2016, Daily Graphic published a self-promoting but dubious award of a doctoral degree to (Dr.) Patrick Kobla Agboba, alias Togbui Sri III, by a nonexistent or ghost institution in the UK, a punishable offense by the laws of the UK.
Readers should be able to locate this publication to confirm the story. In another example, on December 16, 2014, Graphic Online published a self-promoting feature on (Dr.) Kofi Portuphy, the current NDC chairman, touting his doctoral award in humanitarianism as a good reason why he should be elected for the position of NDC chair
(Follow the evidence here http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/politics/profile-kofi-portuphy-the-man-for-ndc-chair.html).
Indeed, there are many other examples where the Daily Graphic even touted some of the non-existent institutions as prestigious academic institutions which are leaders in their fields.
If all of a sudden, the Daily Graphic has learned a new industry custom of issuing a disclaimer and apologizing for "unverifiable" information, don't its readers deserve an apology from it for becoming an accessory for the franchising of all these unwholesome qualifications on Ghanaians? Or its readers are dolts par excellence and cannot discern the truths from the falsehoods?
Second, which part of our rejoinder to the UPSA press statement is unverifiable? Even though both the UPSA and the SMC are rapidly revising and updating their websites to remove evidence of some of the issues we cited in our rejoinder, it should be noted that if the Daily Graphic had contacted us, as a customary journalistic practice, we would have provided it with the needed evidence.
But we are aware that the SMC sham penetrates many institutions in Ghana, including the Daily Graphic. Evidence of this SMC sham penetration at the Daily Graphic is culled from the professional profile of Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey – Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Ltd. and Board Member of Daily Graphic
On this page, Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey wrote and we quote "He is currently pursuing a Doctorate degree in Business Administration at the Swiss Management Centre." It is no wonder why the Daily Graphic and its upper management is condoning this fraudulent act on the unquestioning Ghanaian public.
Thus, any revocation of the unwholesome SMC academic degrees by the Council of UPSA or the Ministry of Education would have implications for such individuals including Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey, Rev. Prof. Dr. Dr. Mrs. Goski Alabi and others. It is a natural human instinct to try to protect one's turf, especially where one's bread is buttered.
Indeed, we clearly understand why Daily Graphic would not publish our report but found it necessary to publish a rejoinder from the UPSA. We have adequately prepared ourselves very well to ensure that this report and the ensuing discourse reach the nooks and crannies of Ghana.
2. We wish to draw attention of the general public to another sham publication in the Daily Graphic of Wednesday August 10, 2016, titled "SMC Alumni—Ghana Response to Defamation Campaign. In this promotional publication (or paid for publication), the alumni of SMC sought to label our investigative research efforts that have unearthed the academic scam across the Ghanaian educational landscape a defamation campaign.
Three things stood out in this report that need addressing. First, the authors of these promotional publication (which could best be described as propagandist) seek to draw correlation between the despising of Soviet-trained medical doctors in countries that embraced Western-style education, particularly Ghana, in the height of the ideological battle between the West and the East.
Second, the authors sampled some rankings of the SMC in the media to buttress the image of SMC. Third, the SMC alumni, just like the leadership of UPSA, resorted to the ACBSP's approval as of SMC as tantamount to accreditation of SMC by the NAB.
To respond to the first contention, it is important for SMC alumni to understand the historical and ideological issues that surrounded the undermining of Soviet-trained doctors in Ghanaian medical institutions, so they can refrain from drawing "false equivalence" between the Soviet-trained situation and the current challenge.
In the heat of the Cold War, Western propaganda labelled anything Soviet, including education, as inferior. This spilled over to our countries which had become battle grounds for these ideological battles.
The issue under discussion has nothing to do with ideological but ACCREDITATION! On the matter of ranking of SMC, it is important that we stop trivializing this important issue to the point of rationalizing SMC's accreditation issues by the ranking of some so-called newspapers and institutions whose operational parameters are unknown to us.
Even if we are to go by this particular metric, we would like to inform readers that the links provided by the authors of the propagandist material do not lead anywhere.
(Follow the links here http://hq.ssrn.com/rankings/Ranking__Display.cfm?T-MY_glD=2&TRN_glD=12&redirectFromiPt.rue&redirectFrom=true, http://rankings.ft.com/businessschoolranking/online-mba-2012-listing).
This is another case of fraud being visited on the Ghanaian citizenry by SMC fraudsters!
Again, one is tempted to ask if the Daily Graphic has conducted its due diligence to confirm the place of SMC as the No. 1 MBA in Switzerland and No. 5 best in the whole of Europe. Why have we allowed ourselves to look so imprudent or injudicious in the eyes of the global academy such ways of thinking and doing things?
I am sure the samples thrown out here at readers would tickle the average university student in Switzerland and wider Europe into a hysteric laughter. To the alumni of SMC, I urge you to not only behave as adults but the intellectuals that you are aspiring to be. On the substantive issue of accreditation, we reiterate the point that the SMC is not accredited in Switzerland. Thus, what is unwholesome for the Swiss cannot be wholesome for the Ghanaian student and the subsequent employer.
On top of this, the Ghana National Accreditation Board has found the need to revoke the registration of this institution. We are only waiting for the appropriate educational authorities, particularly the Ministry of Education and the institutions that are harboring these individuals, to evaluate the content of these degrees, so they can take the appropriate steps to revoke their engagements or assign the victims of this scam to Ghanaian universities for mentoring should the need arise.
3. To the Ghanaian public, we wish to reiterate our commitment to ensuring that this policy matter is thoroughly dealt with to its logical conclusion.
We are aware of the attitude of officialdom which translates into "let's allow them to make the noise for some time and the matter will die its natural death." We are, therefore, prepared for the long haul even if that will span years! We were expecting the individuals mentioned in our report who were consulting their lawyers to have concluded their consultations and headed to court by now if indeed we made any false representations in our report and the subsequent rejoinder.
Students including their associations such as the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) should be aware that in the absence of these individuals contesting these issues in court, they (students) can resort to the courts themselves to ensure that these individuals answer for their actions.
4. On a much lighter note, in the Daily Graphic response, we have each been addressed with a Mr. title (or Messrs for both of us), a purported demotion or an orchestrated attempt to denigrate our appropriately earned academic titles.
Indeed, instead of provocation from this scheme, it only goes to buttress the point that ignorance and mediocrity have found foothold in some of the media houses, in this case, the Daily Graphic. That our hard-earned academic accolades have to be diminished intentionally to make a point because we dared questioned the fraud that has been promoted for so long, emboldens us more to ensure that the system is accountable.
Not that we care about our academic titles but it is just important to draw attention to that observation as academic accolades are the focus of the ensuing discourse. Well, if the seemingly uniformed Daily Graphic writer wants to know, our names are indelibly recorded in the Survey of Earned Doctorates. What you earn legitimately cannot be taken away from you.
So, referring to us as Messrs while placating unearned titles just goes to buttress our point that some in the media in Ghana, out of ignorance, help perpetrate the malfeasance. They serve as conduits for the academic con artists to thrive to the point of fooling the citizenry through sycophantic hypes, deified adulations, and hypocritical hyperboles about unsubstantiated academic laurels that they heap on such people.
Of course, one can be a visionary without an academic title but when a visionary wants to go with one, it has to be above par.
As we conclude this rejoinder, we would like to reiterate our earlier position that as contenders in this debate, we have furnished the Ministry of Education with our report through the Ghana Embassy in Washington, D.C. We have also made the documents available to the media and the general public.
Similarly, the UPSA and the alumni of SMC who are moving from one media house to another to state their position have done so. We are aware that we cannot be judges in our own arguments. Thus, the issue is still remanded with the Ministry of Education and its Minister to study the report, conduct its own investigations, and state its policy position.
The Daily Graphic is not an accrediting body except some elements there have a vested interest in the matter and are treating this issue from the angle of self-preservation. We are counting the days and should the Ministry of Educational fails to act, we would take measures we deem appropriate to instill some sanity into the educational landscape in Ghana.
Prosper Yao Tsikata, PhD
Assitant Professor of Communication
Valdosta State University
A. Kobla Dotse, PhD
Chemical Research and Development