Every game has its own rules and regulations and every player of such game must act in accordance with the laid down rules governing that game. Those who play against any of the rules must be penalized by the officiating body in order to maintain a healthy playing atmosphere for every stakeholder. This qualifies the notion that both the players and the officials should be well grounded in the field of the said game.
In the world of academia, things are done systematically according to certain criteria. This has been the tradition and has always yielded good fruits as the expected outcome. If there is any attempt to manipulate, devalue or violate the constitutional right of such autonomous institution, then something is wrong along the line and must be properly investigated to avoid total derailment.
Here, my worries are engulfed by the ongoing mêlée between Njala University, an autonomous tertiary institution, and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) over the attempt by the TEC to suspend certain programmes on offer at Njala University including:
1. Bachelor of Science in Accounting
2. Bachelor of Science in Banking and Finance
3. Masters in Business Administration (MBA)
4. Masters in Peace and Development Studies.
With due respect to every syllable in the Acts including the Universities Act of 2005, the Tertiary Education Commission Act of 2001 and the Education Act of 2004, the move by the TEC to suspend programmes on offer at Njala University sounds absurd and to be specific, an academic absurdity.
One of the objectives of the Education Act of 2004 is to make education available to as many Sierra Leoneans as possible. It is academically absurd to make education available to all by terminating or suspending programmes at the detriment of the masses. You cannot sweeten your tea by adding salt. That’s absurdity. I believe the TEC should have highlighted some of the lapses in the programmes, if any, and come up with suggestions in order to bridge the gap rather than advocating the termination of these programmes.
The Universities Act of 2005 mandated Njala University to offer programmes and courses as long as it has the necessary resources including qualified and dedicated staff to handle the programmes. Besides, Njala University has been offering some of these courses like Banking and Finance for the past two years. Some students in such programmes are in their final year. What would be the future of those students who are at the verge of completing their studies in these programmes?
More worrying is the fact that TEC is squarely represented at both the University Senate and Court, the highest academic and administrative bodies of the University. Where was TEC when these programmes were presented before the University Court for approval and why is TEC only coming out now to query some of these programmes or courses when they are in their final phases.
The TEC was represented when the document for these programmes was tabled in the Senate meeting to be noted. There after, the programmes went through the Curriculum Review Committee and came to Senate again before it was sent to Court for approval.
If the same TEC will today turn round and ask for the staff profile of Njala University probing its staff capability to handle the courses and programmes in question without bothering about the staff profiles of others universities or tertiary institutions offering similar programmes or courses, then one starts to wonder what TEC is doing. If TEC is doing the correct thing in this issue, then it is high time people started questioning the authenticity of the Universities Act of 2005.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.