Address by Rev. Prof. E. A. Obeng(PUCG)

Address by Rev. Prof. E. A. Obeng, the President of Presbyterian University College Ghana to the Tenth Congregation of the University

 Courtesies

  • The Chancellor of Presbyterian University College who is also the sitting Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt. Rev. Professor Emmanuel Martey
  • Incoming Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev. Professor Cephas Omenyo
  • The Chairman of PUCG Council, Professor Edwin Akonno Gyasi
  • Presbytery Chairpersons
  • Members of the University Council
  • The Guest Speaker, Professor D. D. Kuupole, Immediate Past Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast
  • Nananom
  • Representatives of the Vice Chancellors of University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and University of Cape Coast
  • Political Leadership
  • Heads of Sister Universities
  • The Clergy
  • Vice President, PUCG
  • Registrar, PUCG
  • Director of Finance
  • Deans of Faculty
  • Members of Convocation
  • Parents and Distinguished Invited Guests
  • Graduands
  • Staff and Students
  • Members of the Media
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me join the Chancellor, in welcoming all of you to Abetifi and to the 10th graduation ceremony of the Presbyterian University College Ghana. We are pleased to have all of you joining us to celebrate this day. Today we celebrate the success of these fine men and women who have passed through various programmes of study at the Presbyterian University College, Ghana.

We are grateful to you all for taking time off your busy schedules to be with us. Let me single out a few personalities for mention. We welcome the Chancellor of this University, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt. Rev Prof. Emmanuel Martey. Papa’s support for this University in the past year has been tremendous.

We extend a special welcome to Rev. Prof. Cephas Omenyo the newly elected Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. As per the Statutes of the University, he will become the next Chancellor of the University with effect from 1st December 2016. We also congratulate him on his election to the highest office of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.

We warmly welcome Prof. D. D Kuupole, the immediate past Vice Chancellor of UCC. He is the Guest Speaker at this function. He travelled from Nigeria to join us this morning to share ideas with us on the theme for this year’s graduation “Graduate Unemployment: Education for What?”

We are also happy to see Nananom here. Your presence is always an endorsement that we are doing something good for the communities. We are also grateful to parents and guardians for your presence. It is your confidence in us, three or four years ago to entrust your sons, daughters and wards to us for training that has resulted in today’s ceremony. Once again, you are all welcome.

This is the time in the life of students of PUCG when the last stanza of the University’s Anthem becomes a reality at least here on earth In part, it reads “But when the victory has been won, At last we’ll hear you say, “Well done!” On that great day, we will hear you say, “Well done!” The “great day” has an eschatological meaning, but for us in PUCG it has a “here and now” interpretation. Today is a “great day” in the lives of these smartly turned out men and women. They are here today to receive their well-deserved certificates and awards.

Mr. Chancellor (Moderator), today we are graduating 661 students= 352 are Males and 309 are Females. The breakdown is as follows:

First Class Division: 55 students-39 (Males) 16 (Females)

Second Class Upper Division: 289 students-142 (Males) 147 (Females)

Second Class Lower division: 217 students-116 (Males) 101 (Females)

Third Class: 83 students: 42 (Males) 41 (Females)

Pass category: 17 students: 13 (Male) 4 (Females)

There are 18 awards for some of the graduating students for excellent performance. Out of this figure, female students have won 10 of the awards.

 On behalf of University Council, Management, Staff and on my own behalf, I congratulate you all, for your success in the various programmes, you pursued in this University. Irrespective of the class obtained, all of you have passed; what you do with the certificate after today is what matters. Congratulations.

During such a ceremony, the Head of the institution gives a report on the activities of the University in the past year and does some projections for the future. Such a report –the “President’s Annual Report” has been made available to you. I wish to take this opportunity, to comment on four issues.

  1. ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES

Universities all over the world operate effectively on rules and regulations. The University has completed a review of its regulatory documents to satisfy requirements of the mentoring institutions and the National Accreditation Board. Documents covering every aspect of the university’s life have been reviewed and placed before the University Senate for approval. Those that require University Council’s consideration will be placed before it for its consideration and approval. This development, Mr Chancellor, is to strengthen administrative structures in the university and lay a firm foundation to support academic activities and guide our march to become a University with a worldwide acclaim.

I thank members of Senate who spent precious time to study the documents and approve them for implementation.

Chancellor, we have also restructured the administrative system of the University. This has resulted in the transfer of some staff. As a normal human behaviour, change is uncomfortable but these transfers have been done with clear and good intentions – an opportunity for individual career growth, learning diversity as well as organisational benefit.

  1. ACADEMIC ISSUES

Chancellor, Ladies and Gentlemen, the major business of a University is threefold- Research, Teaching and Learning, and Community Outreach. In the past one year, these have gone on well in the University.  It is with pride that we inform Congregation that, in the year under review, one of our students was adjudged the overall Best Candidate in Registered General Nursing Licensure Examination (Written)-2015 by the Nurses and Midwifery Council of Ghana. All Graduating students from Departments of Nursing in Ghana’s universities, both public and private, write the Licensure Examination before the Nurses and Midwifery Council licence them. A student of PUCG, Ms. Sandra E. Akpobome made distinction in 6 of the courses examined-Medicine and Medical Nursing, Mental Health/Psychiatric Nursing, Obstetric Nursing, Paediatric Nursing, Public Health Nursing, and Surgery and Surgical Nursing. On 1st June 2016, she received the Dr. Mary Opare Award from the Nurses and Midwifery Council for her sterling performance.

Mr. Chancellor, PUCG students have been performing exceptionally well in such national examinations and competitions. In these examinations, PUCG students have been scoring a 100% in most cases and winning the first position in quizzes and other competitions too.

Papa Chancellor, on the 13th November 2016, at the Private University Association of Ghana (PUSAG) Conference, Mr. Bright Bilson a level 400 Physician Assiststanship student of this university was presented with an award as the overall best student Entrepreneur in Trade, Imports and Exports.

Again as part of the 80th Anniversary Celebrations of the Presbyterian Nurses & Midwifery Training College, Agogo (PNMTC), three tertiary institutions namely, Presbyterian University College, Ghana (PUCG), Agogo Presbyterian College of Education (APCE) and Presbyterian Nurses & Midwifery Training College, Agogo (PNMTC), had a quiz competition on the 15th November. The contestants were quizzed on the history of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG), the Church Structures, Current Affairs and General Knowledge. At the end of the competition, PUCG emerged the overall winner. Mr. Emmanuel Kwadwo Anago and Miss. Gloria Ayifo Quaye represented PUCG.

In the past year, we received accreditation for two new programmes in Education. These are Bachelor of Education (Social Studies) and Bachelor of Education (Business Studies). These two departments are the foundation departments of the Faculty of Education.

Many other new academic programmes have been developed. These include Graduate programmes in MA in International Development, MED in Educational Studies, MSc in Environmental Health and Sanitation, MSc in Natural Resources Management, MSc in Forensic Audit and Investigation, MSc in Financial Risk Management and MA in Public Relation and Corporate Communication. Other programmes include Actuarial Science, Optometry, Law, and Midwifery.  These programmes are to be rolled out when affiliation and accreditation processes are complete.

Mr Chancellor, in the quest to fulfil the Presbyterian educational philosophy of training the head, hand and heart, the Chaplaincy and Life Values Centre has been restructured. A new centre, The Centre for Promotion of Life Values has been set up, charged with the responsibility of integrating faith into learning and through that inculcate the university values of discipline, integrity, humility, hard work, commitment and faith in God into our students. Courses and seminars to support this process have been approved by the university Senate. These include Christian Ethics, Presbyterian Heritage, Traditional Patterns of Learning, Entrepreneurship, Peace, Conflict and Development, and Institutional Governance. Through this, we hope to impact positively on the moral formation of our students.

I wish to report also that some academic staff have successfully completed their Doctoral Studies programme in the year under review. For us as growing university, this is noteworthy. They are Dr. Michael Asiedu and Mr. Paul Agyei Kwakwa. Dr. Asiedu has already graduated from KNUST and Mr. Kwakwa is due to graduate in the next week or so. Others have submitted their final doctoral theses and are awaiting thesis defence.

  1. OUTREACH ACTIVITIES

Chancellor, Presbyterian University College undertook outreach activities in the communities in which we are situated. The Physician Assistantship Students Association undertook a health screening exercise at Afrisere, a village in the Asante Akyem North District. Afrisere is about 21 kilometres from Agogo. Nine hundred and seventy-two people (972) including children were screened for STDs, Postural Hypertension, Diabetes, Mellitus, and Anaemia and Nutritional deficiencies. At the end of the exercise, 122 cases were referred to the Agogo Presbyterian Hospital for further examination and treatment.

Again, the Chaplaincy and Life Values Promotion Centre, in collaboration with Breast Care International (BCI), Ghana Eye Society and the ENT Department of Atibie Government Hospital organized a Health Screening Exercise for breast, sight and ear related issues, blood pressure and blood sugar tests at Abetifi and at Kwahu Apradang, a farming community under Kwahu West Municipal Assembly. About 500 people were screened at Abetifi and 115 persons were screened for breast cancer at Kwahu Apradang. Out of these, nine cases were recorded which BCI described as alarming considering the number of patients to case ratio The Chiefs and people of these communities were extremely happy at the initiative of PUCG.

It is our responsibility, as a University, to support the deprived communities in the catchment areas of our campuses so the University will continue with the outreach programme to try in meeting their critical social and educational needs.  Through this, we teach our students the values of sacrifice and service, values that are under serious threat in our country now.

  1. INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT

Mr Chancellor, we achieved modest gains in infrastructural development in the past year. The two-storey lecture and office block at Agogo campus is complete (apart from a few minor works) and was dedicated to the glory of God by your good self yesterday. The completion of this block has eased considerably the pressure we had on teaching space on that campus. With the increase in student numbers on that campus, another faculty block and an auditorium are urgently needed there. Papa, that campus holds close to 2000 students, and so such interventions by the Presbyterian Church of Ghana are needed and now.

Two new ICT laboratories have been completed on Abetifi and Agogo campuses to facilitate Teaching, Learning and Research and online delivery of courses.

This year, the University took a pragmatic decision to go into commercial farming to support its income generation. As such, a modest beginning has been made this year. There are plans to continue investing in agriculture as a way of improving the financial health of the University and give opportunity to the Department of Agribusiness to put its teaching theories into practice.

  1. CHALLENGES

Papa Chancellor, Private Universities are now endangered species in this country. In my view, a number of these institutions may close down in the next 10 years or so if there is no change in our fortunes. Although Private institutions brought dynamism and competition into the higher education sector and made higher education provision more market oriented than when it was under public monopoly, private universities have lost that advantage. There are too many private universities in this country. Before 2000, there were about fifteen private higher education institutions in the country but now there are well over a hundred and ten private institutions and many of them focus on less capital-intensive programmes ignoring the sciences.

The Public universities have responded effectively to the challenge posed by the private universities by adopting market-oriented practices in introducing special fee-paying programmes and fee admission quotas for applicants whose grades would not normally have gained them admissions into those programmes. As a result, a number of private universities do not attract students, putting the private institutions in serious financial distress.  The financial distress of the private universities is compounded by the payment of huge sums of monies to Mentoring Institutions and Regulatory bodies. The affiliation charges of the Mentoring Institution and the accreditation fees of the Regulatory body are too high that very little is left for infrastructural development, faculty and staff development and training, libraries, attraction and retention of staff and research. The killer to these all is the payment of tax, on non-existent profits, at the end of the financial year to the taxman.

To enable the already established private universities to survive and improve on their delivery, there is need for the NAB to put a cap on the establishment of new private universities, except those to be set up in the areas of science, technology, health and medical sciences. We also call on the government to review its policy on taxing private universities.  I pray that some political party will make this an item in its manifesto-No tax for private universities.

The policy of non-employment of graduate nurses by government health institutions poses a problem especially to private universities many of which have Departments of Nursing. In fact, this policy is affecting admissions into these departments. There are many vacancies in the health sector than the number of graduates coming out of the Departments of Nursing in the country. What is the need for this policy? We call on government to reverse this policy.

In view of the challenges facing the private universities, it is imperative for the universities to think outside the box and introduce niche programmes to give them the edge again. The owners are to invest heavily in the universities, without expecting financial returns in the immediate future. Operating a tertiary institution is an expensive enterprise. There is the need for the existing private universities to think of mergers-the merger of common minded universities or universities with same historical roots are to merge to ensure their survival.

  1. APPRECIATION

I wish to take this opportunity to express appreciation to all those who contributed to the growth of the University in diverse ways in these past years.

We thank the Chancellor and Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Rt. Rev. Professor Emmanuel Martey. This is the last graduation over which he is presiding as Chancellor of the University. We are very grateful to him for his support especially in these past two years, which culminated in the donation of 1,900 classroom chairs and a building at Kuku Hill, Osu to the University to use as the University Guest House. We are also grateful to him for facilitating access to a facility of GHC 500,000 to support infrastructural development. We know also that you are seriously engaged in discussion with a financier that, when God smiles on us, will transform the fortunes of this university. Your support has brought the university back as a priority item on the agenda of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana and we are determined to keep it there. God continually guide and bless you as you finish your term as Moderator of the Church and Chancellor of this university. We believe that you will continue to be an ambassador of this university.

We thank the Presbyterian Church of Ghana for her support and the commitment that the years ahead shall be well.

We express appreciation also to members of University Council whose terms in office end on 29th November 2016. We thank them for their individual and collective contributions towards the growth of the University.

We are grateful to the leadership of University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and University of Cape Coast for the mentoring role they have been in the life of Presbyterian University College, Ghana.

We thank the traditional and political leadership in our catchment areas as well as the people of the communities in which our campuses are located for their immense support.

We appreciate the sacrifices, dedication and devotion to duty of our hard working staff. In fact, we would not have come this far without their commitment.

We also want to welcome the incoming Moderator and Chancellor. We trust that under his leadership the university will receive preferential treatment in all its dealings with the Church. It is our expectation that he would also lead us to the stage where we would apply for a Presidential Charter and get it without sweat.

  1. ADVICE TO GRADUANDS

Once again, I want to say well done to the graduands on this great day in their lives. The world out there has its attractions, temptations, virtues and vices. We have no worries, however, because we know that you will become useful citizens and fulfilled individuals. Remember to apply the knowledge you have acquired here. Keep a sane head in adversity, and a fair judgement in your dealings with others.

You are graduating at a time when the country is approaching general elections; I advise that you do not allow yourself to be used by anybody.  Our elders say, “When you see a bird dancing in the middle of the road, know that the drummers are hiding in the bush” and again, “Everyone likes a fool to do his dirty bidding but no one loves him for a son”. A bird dancing in the middle of the road is an easy prey and a fool after doing the dirty work is thrown away with like thrash. Do not allow yourself to be used no matter the monetary gain. Go out there and behave as people who have received training to be disciplined leaders. Shine forth as true ambassadors of PUCG and as beneficiaries of Presbyterian Education.

Do not forget to continue to develop your minds. Today does not end your mental development. Remember that the greatest talent God gave humankind is the brain. Develop and apply your brains, take control of your destiny, and help build this country. The problems of this country can be solved by developed minds.

Allow yourselves to be mentored by experienced people.  When it comes to your jobs, learn the job before you learn the tricks of the job. If you learn the tricks too early, you become a criminal and a cheat. Success is not an overnight event; it is a series of processes.

Lastly believe in the power of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord is your light and salvation so you should not be afraid.  The Lord will keep you from all harm.  The Lord will watch over your life.  The Lord will watch over your coming and going now and forever more. Go in confidence and take your rightful place in the community of all humanity. Remember this: the champions we know about today are not supernatural. They just pushed on for one more second when everyone else has quit. One more second of effort can give you the victory you need. Never give up, not even, because everyone is giving up or wants you to give up. Ask God for strength.  He will never fail you. Stay blessed.