By Kemiso Wessie:
The Ghanaian government’s University of Media Arts and Communication (UMAC) Bill which seeks to merge three media and language tertiary institutions has received pushback from educators’ associations.

A petition by the Academic Staff Association and the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) expressed concerns that the UMAC bill displays portions of the Public University Bill (PUB) which was said to provide control and interference in the management of public universities by the government.

Introduced in April 2019 by then minister of education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh who said the bill was meant “to provide the procedure for the establishment of public universities, [set out] principles for the management of public universities, [determine] the legal status of public universities, the procedure for financing public universities and administration and supervision of the activities of public universities and related matters.”

Public criticism put the plan to merge the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), the Ghana Institute of Languages (GIL) and the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) to become the University of Media, Arts and Communications (UMAC) on hold in 2020 but the bill was then signed into law by President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2021.

Senior lecturer and dean of the Faculty of Integrated Communication Sciences at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Dr. Modestus Fosu told AJENda the consultation of teachers and educators during the merger’s incubation phase could have been beneficial to the logistics.

For instance, “which of the three campuses would be the central administrations block, what would the faculty organisation look like?” asked Dr. Fosu. He also said the building of an entirely new campus could benefit students because Ghana is still developing and having to travel between the three campuses could be difficult.

However, he hopes that in the next three to four months such details of the merger will be more defined.

Dr. Rachel V. Brown, a lecturer in the same faculty at GIJ expressed her excitement, stating that “the merger has the potential to be impactful for Ghana” but does need to progress faster and with a clearer plan of action.

The three schools can realise their weaknesses and learn from each other on how to better provide for their students in adapting to a post-Covid education landscape. Dr. Fosu explained that the merger is a great opportunity for the different institutions to pool their resources together to train students effectively with new teaching methods and expanded courses.