To say that Ghana is gripped with lawlessness is an understatement. Indeed, without a doubt, the cancer is a direct result of a failing educational system. The ignorance promoted on national TV and in national newspapers epitomizes the gravity of the situation. For example, a simple question of the difference between honoris causa and earned PhDs, and thesis and a dissertation, could render the entire Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) jobless, if failing the test means losing one’s job. How low have we sunk as a country that those working in our media institutions lack knowledge on such simple things? What better explains this than our dysfunctional educational system?
A few months ago, we wrote to the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) and its leadership, via Mr. Affail Monney, to bring to the attention of the public and the educational authorities the epidemic proportions the problem of diploma mills and questionable academic credentials have assumed in Ghana. Some of the letters were copied to the National Media Commission (NMC) to make the coordination between the GJA and the NMC effective. The reasons for writing to the GJA were multifold. Among our requests were: (a) to encourage the NMC and the GJA to coordinate their efforts to ensure that their members are well-informed about the accreditation status of institutions that confer PhDs and other forms of educational awards on individuals. This was on the back of Gifty Anti, former presidential candidate Hassan Ayariga, and former IGP John Kudalor’s, continuous use of the title of a Dr. in the media in Ghana. We hoped that if the media is well-informed, then, as gatekeepers of the media, they will be in a position to question individuals who continue to hold themselves out under questionable titles and accolades, particularly the title of a Dr. (b) that the Daily Graphic, which has provided its platforms for the NAB and its Executive Secretary, Mr. Kwame Dattey, to publish contradictory and ill-informed articles on the subject matter under discussion, by constitutional proviso, provides the same platform for our rejoinder to educate the public and correct the inaccuracies of the Executive Secretary of the NAB. (c) that the Daily Graphic publishes an apology to its numerous readership for commercializing and availing its platform for publicizing falsehood.
While the Daily Graphic, on the instigation or the intervention of the NMC, published our rejoinder (with some crucial information to the debate expunged), the Daily Graphic never published an apology to its readership. Even though we could have continued to press on and ensure that an apology was published by the Daily Graphic, we concluded that you cannot fight the “illogical” from a logical standpoint. If we are to draw lessons from some of the global media industry leaders such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other credible newspapers, readers will agree with us that the prompting for the publication of an apology to readership would not have even stemmed from us. It is part and parcel of the practice of journalism. When falsehood is published by a newspaper knowingly or unintentionally, the notion of disgorgement, whereby a newspaper retracts the news item and apologize to the public is the next action of the newspaper. Disgorgement, applied to unethical financial gains in economics in which the beneficiary returns what is acquired through falsehood, the author, just like the beneficiary of the unethical financial gains, retracts and apologizes to the public. But we know Daily Graphic is not New York Times or Washington Post
On the first score of the demands, both the NMC and the GJA have failed to impress upon their members to seek information on, e.g., the difference between a PhD and an honorary doctorate. This we have clearly defined and explained in our numerous articles and rejoinders, starting with the investigative report (Available at:
http://www.dailygraphiconline.com/images/pdf/acreditation_challenges_full_paper.pdf). The NMC and the GJA have equally failed to rein media houses to abide by the edicts of the NAB. As a clear case to demonstrate the lack of trust among Ghanaian state institutions, the NAB looks on while these individuals adorn these honors with whatever social, cultural, and political capitals they can accumulate with these accolades. As recently as February 25, many months after Gifty Anti confessed her lack of knowledge about the status of a diploma mill that conferred a doctor honoris causa on her, she could still be seen boldly but unashamedly appending the title of a Dr. to her name in publicizing her TV program. Here are a few questions needing answers: has the NAB seen this and what has it done about this? Who are the gatekeepers of the media house and the producers who produce her program and what do they know about this story? Has the public shown any interest or concern in this issue? What is the role of the Minister of Education and the Education Ministry in these matters?
On the back of this came Affail Monney who is seeking to lead the GJA for a second term. In the poster that advertises his candidacy are the inscriptions: Dr. Affail Monney. On reading this, it became clear that there was no way the GJA, represented by Affail Monney, was going to respond to our petitions urging it to educate its members on the unethical use of academic credentials among Ghanaians to help curb the practice. Clearly, Mr. Monney believes that by appending the title of a Dr. to his name, there is something he must be bringing to the contest for the GJA presidency that his competitors do not have. But unfortunately, the institution that conferred that questionable doctorate on him is one of those diploma mills that do not have the capacity to confer doctoral degrees on anyone by the edicts of the NAB.
What is even more disturbing is that it is no longer only the Daily Graphic that is offering its platform to some of these diploma mills and their beneficiaries to perpetrate their lawless acts. It seems that the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) has also joined the bandwagon. It is very disturbing to hear the newscaster present Monney’s honorary doctoral degree as a thesis-based honor, which followed “the satisfactory completion of a properly researched thesis, earning him the doctorate of humanities degree” (Please follow the news announcing the award of Mr. Affail Monney’s doctoral degree here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuqUXqaGYEs). What is evident in the news is that the newscaster and those who wrote the news do not only lack knowledge of the difference between honoris causa and earned PhDs, but they also lack knowledge of the difference between a thesis and a dissertation. Interestingly, these forms of ignorance are being promoted on national TV to the benefit of a director of radio and president of the GJA. How low have we sunk as a country that those working in our media institutions, citadels of knowledge, and the institutions that regulate accreditation, lack knowledge on some of these pertinent issues?
The point is that as academics who are exploring issues of accreditation in Ghana, we have done our part. It is up to the Ghanaian public to decide what to do with these issues and the persons involved. We are not under any obligations to send people to court. We will only be ready to expose our research findings and if anyone feel maligned about them, they have the right to go to court and we will respond to them appropriately.
Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata
Assistant Professor of Communication
Valdosta State University
Dr. A Kobla Dotse
Director of Chemical Research & Development