The National Accreditation Board (NAB) has asked persons who have been conferred with honorary doctorate degrees to desist from using the title ‘Dr’, since it is wrong to do so.
It further asked all those who have received questionable honorary doctorates from unaccredited institutions to forthwith stop using the title.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic yesterday, the Executive Secretary of the NAB, Mr Kwame Dattey, said even those who had been honoured by accredited institutions are not supposed to use the title ‘Dr’.
“You don’t have to address yourself as a doctor. If you are given an honorary degree, it is an honorary degree. Honorary is honorary — you don’t even have to put it on your curriculum vitae,” he said, and urged the media and the public to stop addressing those people as such.
Mr Dattey was reacting to discussions on unaccredited institutions that have been dishing out honorary doctorate degrees to some prominent Ghanaians following research work by two Ghanaian professors at the Valdosta State University in the United States of America (USA).
He said most of the institutions conferring honorary doctorate degrees on prominent Ghanaians were not operating in Ghana and that they were not even accredited in their home countries.
“They come here periodically, identify some prominent people in society and confer the honorary degrees on them. And we have come out several times in the newspapers and on our website to warn the public that these institutions are unaccredited in their home countries and people should not expose themselves to ridicule by first accepting such honorary degrees,” he emphasised.
He said that action cast a slur on the image of the country and was causing credibility problems not only for the recipients but also the country.
He advised that anybody who wanted to enrol in any programme, both locally and outside, should check with the NAB and also appealed to employers to collect the credentials of potential employees and check with the board before engaging them.
He said there were some institutions such as the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Armed Forces that checked with the NAB very often.
Legal backing to prosecute
He indicated that the NAB was presently seeking legal backing to prosecute institutions and persons behind the award of fraudulent honours.
“I must say that with the active support of the Minister of Education, our law is being revised and one of the provisions in it is to protect the award of professional and academic qualifications. When we have that in our law, we can legally come out and challenge people who are using such titles and ask them to drop them,” he said.
The NAB, he said, had done its part regarding the law and that it was left with Parliament to complete the process.
He expressed the hope that the new legislation to give the NAB legal backing would come into force before the end of the year.
“I suppose it will be done before the end of the year,” he said.
Dr Prosper Yao Tsikata and Dr A. Kobla Dotse, in their research work titled: “The Accreditation Challenges in Transnational Educational Ecology: The Ghanaian Experience, An Investigative Report”, undertook investigations into how prominent Ghanaians earned honorary doctorate degrees and concluded that many of the private universities conferring honorary doctorate degrees were unaccredited.
They drew the attention of the Minister of Education to it, arguing that given that the individuals permeated all sectors of the Ghanaian society, the effects of the influence would have dire consequences for Ghana if their educational status was not checked and rectified.
Following from that, there has been a debate on how those degrees are earned, especially on social media.
The two professors, in their research, named about 10 institutions, including the European American University; the Commonwealth of Dominica and affiliates in Lagos, Nigeria; Almeda College/University; the American Century University; the University of Dublin, California; the Dayspring Christian University of Mississippi and local affiliates; the Global Center for Transformational Leadership and Pan African Clergy Council; the Thomas Becket University, Canterbury, Kent, UK. Affiliates: Pan African Mission Association, Lagos, Nigeria, and the African Institute of Technology, Nigeria, as well as the Commonwealth University London Graduate School.
Responding, Mr Dattey said some parts of the report were credible but said the criticism of the NAB was not fair.
He confirmed that all the institutions mentioned in the report were not registered in Ghana, with the exception of the Swiss Management Centre which had had its registration withdrawn.
“The Swiss Management Centre was accredited by one of the accrediting agencies for business schools in the US [Accreditation Council for Business, Schools and Programs (ACBSP)]. They also had accreditation from the European Business School, so we registered it.
“Let me say that the registration also is not for an indefinite period. So when it came back for re-registration last year, we checked whether the conditions under which it was registered were still valid and we found out that it was still accredited by the Association of Business Schools in the US but no longer accredited by the European Business Schools.
“So what we have told the centre is that it should obtain accreditation from its native country [Switzerland] before we will do any business with it,” Mr Dattey explained.
He, however, stressed that for the period when it was registered with the NAB, the credentials of graduates who came out of that school were still valid.
“We also gave the centre three years because we recognised that it has students already in the system and so we extended the registration for three years for those already enrolled on its programmes. But it is not supposed to enrol fresh students from 2015 until it has complied with what it is supposed to do,” he said.
Asked why the NAB went ahead and registered the SMC when it was not accredited in Switzerland, in the first place, Mr Dattey responded: “Our information then was that the Swiss accrediting body does not accredit institutions that want to offer programmes outside of Switzerland.”
But he said a new arrangement now allowed the Swiss accrediting board to accredit private institutions and that was why the NAB had taken the current position.
The new arrangement which came into effect in November 2015 now allows the Swiss accreditation board to accredit private institutions and that is why the NAB has asked SMC specifically to obtain the accreditation.
How are foreign institutions registered?
“We do what we call registration for foreign institutions that operate in this country [Ghana] and before we register them we do due diligence on them.
“We look at accreditation from their home countries …When a foreign institution wants to incorporate in Ghana, we do some due diligence on it by checking its accrediting status in its home country and elsewhere,” Mr Dattey said.
He said it was also not automatic to gain accreditation, saying, “We look at, for instance, how you are going to operate, be it a distance learning centre, who are going to teach, which premises and we do inspection of all of that.”
London Graduate School
Responding to the registration status of the London Graduate School which recently approached a Daily Graphic reporter, Mabel Aku Baneseh, to confer an honorary degree on her should she accept to pay $4,000 for a two-day seminar in Accra, Mr Dattey said, “I don’t know anything about it. As I sit here, I don’t know anything about it.”
He said so far 187 higher-level institutions had been accredited in the country, including the universities, university colleges, polytechnics and tutorial colleges.
Twenty-five others are awaiting accreditation.
“Accreditation given to schools is not for ever; they have to be renewed periodically, according to the programmes and status.
“It is between two and five years. It takes some time before a final decision is taken regarding accreditation,” he said.
Writers email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Watch a video of the interview below :