Dean of Graduate Studies of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Dr. John Kweku Mensah Mawutor has declared support for a National Research Fund that will go into researches that are meant to change the face of the country.
According to the UPSA Dean, research should be the backbone of any country that is seeking to develop. He however stated that sadly for Ghana, most researches that result into commercial transformation are financed by foreign organisations and institutions. He stated that these foreign institutions after the researches take hold of the findings as their property barring the country and the researchers the right to lay claim to those.
Dr. Mawutor made these known to eveningmailgh.com when speaking to us on the sidelines of the launch of the 25th Annual Delegates Congress of the Graduate Students Association of Ghana.
National Research Fund
The government of Ghana in 2013 decided to replace the Book and Research allowance paid to the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG)/Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) with the National Research Fund. The decision generated huge debate in the country with many well-meaning Ghanaians expressing their views, some mildly, others vehemently for or against the decision.
In February 2014, the government inaugurated a committee to deliberate on the process of setting up structures to strengthen the operations of the National Research Fund. The Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) and the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) declined to send their representatives to the meeting because of disagreement with the Ministry of Education (MoE) regarding their book and research allowances.
At a forum organized by the National Labour Commission (NLC) in February 2016, the Chief Executive Officer of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), George Smith-Graham, indicated that the Fund has been ratified by Parliament since it was captured in the 2015 budget statement and also in the state of the nation’s address.
“Once it goes into a budget statement and it is passed by Parliament, it means technically it has become a law,” Mr Smith-Graham said.
He, however, assured that there will be an engagement with stakeholders to settle all outstanding issues surrounding the implementation of the “law”.
But before that engagement, some executives of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) and University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) raised red flags not only about the way it was passed but also its existence as a replacement of the book and research allowance.
Notwithstanding, the government in 2017 voted $50 million as seed money for the establishment of the National Research Fund. The Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, who announced this at the opening of the first-ever joint Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) workshop in Accra said “Cabinet has already given approval for the establishment of the fund and a draft bill will be presented to Parliament shortly to give it the necessary legal backing.”
Maintain Book and Research Allowance
Speaking with eveningmailgh.com, Dr. Mawutor said while the National Research fund should be supported by all, the government should still maintain the UTAG and POTAG’s book and research allowance. He stated that an allowance is a condition of service that every worker is entitled to and should therefore not replace the National Research Fund.
Dr. Mawutor added that it will not be in the interest of lecturers for the book and research allowance to be scrapped since the allowance is not meant for only research but other things that aid teaching such as buying of books.
He stated that while every lecturer is entitled to the book and research allowance, not every lecturer should be entitled to the National Research Fund. He said lecturers who should be entitled to the national research fund should be lecturers who can provide evidence that their work will translate into commercial benefit of the country.
Dr. Mawutor earlier at the launch advised graduate students to look for available opportunities and problems and research into them to propose solutions for such problems. Speaking on the theme “The Place of Graduate Research and Funding Opportunities”, Dr. Mawutor said research does not begin with funding but with capacity adding that good research attract findings to themselves.