Sammy Binfoh Dakwah
The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has given government a two-week ultimatum to address worrying developments in the education sector which are negatively affecting students.
According to the union, it would embark on a series of sustained demonstrations and also seek redress at the courts if government failed to act quickly.
NUGS President Sammy Binfoh Dakwah, who was addressing a press conference in Accra, raised a number of concerns that government needed to address immediately.
Among the issues he raised were the ailing state of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and the withdrawal of Nursing and Teacher Trainees allowances.
He said NUGS has, over the period, observed with great disquiet the bemoaning state of the once vibrant GETFund which is now at the brink of collapse due to inadequate funding from the central government; even though there have always been budgetary allocations to the fund.
Mr. Binfoh Dakwah said most of all GETFund projects have stalled completely; a development which has now compelled some school authorities to surcharge students as a desperate measure to raise funds for the completion of such projects.
‘You ask yourself whether the government is really interested in sustaining the operations of this body and the development of Education in general,’ he said.
Withdrawal Of Subsidies
Mr. Binfoh Dakwah disclosed that the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance were seriously contemplating the withdrawal of all forms of subsidies and subventions to public tertiary institutions in the country especially the various public universities.
According to him, the two ministries have started with utility bills.
‘This is a move that will only succeed in exacerbating the already precarious woes of tertiary students who are undeniably overburdened with the exorbitant cost of tertiary education in the country,’ Mr. Binfoh Dakwah said.
He urged all students across the nation to resist these moves with every pint of blood within them.
Mr. Binfoh Dakwah condemned in no uncertain terms the cruel and unruly ordeal the MCE for Asante Mampong brought on the trainee nurses in Mampong.
He demanded the immediate removal of the MCE, stating that, ‘He is not a role model for our society.’
Sammy Binfoh Dakwah outlined some actions that government should take immediately to address the challenges facing the education sector.
He said government should immediately release the arrears of GH¢558million due GETFund to enable the authorities to meet their budgetary obligations and rescind its decision to withdraw the subventions to the public institutions.
Mr. Binfoh Dakwah said government should begin an urgent and a serious move in appointing a substantive Board for GETFund, the Student Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) as well as the National Youth Authority (NYA), which are all agencies that have students as their major stakeholders.
Again, he asked government to reinstate the nursing and teacher trainee allowances that have been scrapped for no justifiable reason and release the capitation grant which has been in arrears for well over two terms to basic schools, as well as the huge arrears due the caterers employed under the School Feeding Programme.
Mr. Binfoh Dakwah also called on government to initiate prosecution against all the officials that were seriously indicted in the various corruption scandals including SADA, GYEEDA, Subah, Isofoton, Waterville and others.
He said, ‘It is indeed our fervent optimism and anticipation that the government and the relevant stakeholders would reason with us in relation to the relevant issues raised and accordingly act appropriately.’
‘If these developments are not checked and addressed immediately, we stand the risk of having our educational sector gradually collapsing and the immediate victims of such avoidable circumstance are the Ghanaian students.’
By Cephas Larbi
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