Case: Fedyag vrs. Public Universities

Fedyag (Federation of Ghanaian Youth) took the Public Universities of Ghana, The Minister of Education, the National Counsel for Tertiary Education and the Attorney General to court over the recent declaration by the public universities that implements a new fee paying policy. Fedyag claimed that this policy was against the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution.

The central problem that arises in this case is that universities are discriminating against the students based upon their economic status by forcing academically qualified students to pay for the foreign tuition which is significantly more expensive than in-state tuition. Thus, the universities are rejecting qualified students and instead accepting students based upon their economic advantage, rather on merit and qualifications.

This foreign fee that the students are required to pay is unconstitutional because it violates the right to equal access to education.

The case however was dismissed by the Supreme Court because it was decided that they did not have the required jurisdiction. An explanation is offered by V. Akoto-Bamfo who is a justice of the Supreme Court. She says: “I am of the view that the real question which ought to be answered is whether the plaintiff is seeking an interpretation of the constitution in which case this Court is the proper forum or is merely seeking the enforcement of its fundamental rights in which case the High Court is the proper forum.” The Supreme Court decided that Fedyag was seeking the enforcement of its fundamental rights and should therefore use the High Court of Human Rights.

Due to the dismissal of the case there was no judgment on the original problem of the fee paying policy. We now know that the High Court is the correct place to go when someone has violated our human rights and the Supreme Court for when we feel that the interpretation of our rights is incorrect.