Claim: Highlife artiste and spokesperson for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Creative Arts, Rex Omar, says all public universities except the KNUST were built by the NDC.
Verdict: Mostly false. Out of the nine public universities in Ghana, the NDC built only two of them. The establishment of the remaining schools predates the party.
Full text: Highlife artiste and spokesperson for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Creative Arts, Rex Omar says all public universities in Ghana, except the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) were built by an NDC government.
He made the claim on United Showbiz on UTV on 17th October, 2020 where he was speaking on achievements of the NDC.
In his submission on the show, he said:
“Most of the public universities in Ghana except KNUST which was built by Kwame Nkrumah, all the others were built by the NDC. There is no political party that has built a public university except the NDC.”
[2.08 minutes – 2.37 minutes]
To verify this claim, we had to establish when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as a political party was formed at the time the party formed the government. We also had to find out from historical events whether the political party, while serving as an elected government, played a role in the formation of any of the nine public universities in Ghana.
Public Universities in Ghana
According to the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), there are nine public universities in Ghana (Page 7). These are;
- University of Ghana, Legon (UG),
- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST),
- University of Cape Coast (UCC),
- University of Education, Winneba (UEW),
- University for Development Studies (UDS),
- University of Mines and Technology (UMAT),
- University for Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA),
- University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR)
- University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS).
The above institutions have also been confirmed in the 2020 budget (Page 258) where they were listed as the only public universities in Ghana under the Ministry of Education.
The NDC was founded in July 1992 and became a government from 1993 to 2001 with Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings as president, serving two four-year terms.
The NDC, after losing the December 2000 elections to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), returned to power in 2009 with John Evans Atta-Mills until the party lost the elections again in 2016 with John Mahama as incumbent president.
In summary, the NDC was in government from 1993 – 2001 and 2009 – 2017.
Founding of Ghana’s public universities:
- University of Ghana
The University of Ghana, known in its early days as the University College of the Gold Coast, was founded by Ordinance from the work of the West African Commission of the Asquith Commission on Higher Education chaired by Rt. Hon. Walter Elliot on August 11, 1948. It had affiliation to the University of London.
Through an Act of Parliament on October 1, 1961 (Act 79), the University of Ghana became an autonomous public university in Ghana with the power to award its own degrees.
From the above, it is clear that no specific political party in Ghana founded the University of Ghana. In fact, the first and only political party in Ghana at the time the University College of the Gold Coast (University of Ghana) was formed was the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). The NDC was not in existence at the time.
- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
According to a publication by an Assistant Librarian at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), K Agyen-Gyasi, the school was originally established as Kumasi College of Technology by a Government Ordinance on 6th October, 1951.
The University was later transformed into a fully-fledged university by an Act of Parliament on 22nd August 1961. The institution’s name was changed to University of Science and Technology in February 1966 by a decree, but by another Act of Parliament (Act 559 of 1998) it reverted to its original name, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 2000 (KNUST, 2008).
Based on the dates above, it is accurate for Rex Omar to say that the NDC did not build KNUST.
- University of Cape Coast (UCC)
The University’s website states that it was established in October 1962 and attained the status of a full and independent University, with the authority to confer its own degrees, diplomas and certificates by an Act of Parliament in 1971.
The NDC as a political party was yet to be formed at this time. So, there is no way it can claim to have built the school.
- University of Education, Winneba (UEW)
A publication on UEW’s website says the school was established in September, 1992 as a University College under PNDC Law 322.
On 14th May, 2004 the University of Education Act, Act 672 was enacted to upgrade the status of the University College of Education of Winneba to the status of a full University.
The Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), whose law established UEW was a military government led by Jerry John Rawlings. The Council was in power until Ghana’s first democratically elected government in the fourth republic, the NDC took over office in January 1993.
Many documentary materials on politics in Ghana view the NDC as a political party birthed by the PNDC; sharing the same values, principles and leadership, that is, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.
Despite this link, it will be misleading to claim that an NDC government established the UEW.
- University for Development Studies (UDS)
Like UEW, University of Development Studies (UDS) was established under a PNDC law in May 1992 but began academic work in September 1993.
Again, it will be misleading to claim that the institution was established by an NDC government since the 1992 date was a period when Ghana was under a PNDC military government.
- University of Mines and Technology (UMAT)
Records on the University’s website show that the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) started as the Tarkwa Technical Institute in November 1952. It was eventually converted into a university capable of awarding its own degrees in November 2004 after parliament passed the University of Mines and Technology bill into an Act of Parliament and got Presidential Assent on 12th November 2004.
As already established, the NDC was not formed until 1992 and therefore it is impossible that the party established UMAT.
Again, in 2004 when UMAT was approved to run a fully-fledged university, that was done by the NPP’s John Agyekum Kufuor and not the NDC.
- University for Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA)
The University for Professional Studies, Accra, was founded by Nana J.K. Opoku Ampomah as Institute of Professional Studies (IPS) in 1965. It says on its website that the institution was taken over by government in 1978 and subsequently, on 22nd April 1999, the Institute of Professional Studies (IPS) Act, Act 566, was passed to establish the Institute as a tertiary institution with the responsibility of providing tertiary education in the academic disciplines of Accountancy and Management.
It was granted Presidential Charter in September, 2008, making it a fully-fledged university capable of awarding its own certificates, diplomas and degrees for its accredited programmes.
In 2012, under an NDC government, the University of Professional Studies Act 2012, Act 850, was passed to change the name of the Institution from Institute of Professional Studies to University of Professional Studies.
Based on the order of events, it could be said that the institution was formally considered a public tertiary institution in 1999 under the NDC’s Jerry John Rawlings government. However, it was originally an educational institution established by a private individual.
- University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR)
The University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), located in Sunyani in the Bono Region, was established by an Act of Parliament, Act 830, 2011 on December 31, 2011 after the NDC’s Prof. J.E.Atta Mills as president, cut the sod for the commencement of the University.
It was a campaign promise of the NDC’s election 2008 flagbearer, John Evans Atta Mills who also promised to build another university in the Volta Region.
- University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS)
Like UENR, the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho (UHAS) was established by an Act of Parliament (Act 828 in December, 2011).
The University however started operations in September 2012 during the tenure of the NDC led by John Dramani Mahama who took over office following the demise of Prof. Evans Atta Mills in July that same year.
Prof. Evans Atta Mills cut sod for the construction of that university in February 2011.
Besides the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) and the University for Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), the NDC did not directly establish any other public university in Ghana. Records however show that the PNDC that birthed the NDC played a role in the establishment of UDS and UEW.