Kwame Amponsah Manu, Coordinating Secretary of GNUPS, who gave the hint, said the country’s polytechnic students were determined to fight for their rights as enshrined in the 1992 Republican Constitution.
Addressing angry students of the Kumasi Polytechnic in Kumasi yesterday after a protest march, the GNUPS Coordinating Secretary accused government of making deliberate attempts to portray polytechnic students as ‘minority and academically inferior group in Ghana.’
According to him, government attaches less importance to issues pertaining to polytechnic education, hence its lackadaisical attitude in addressing the strike action by their lecturers.
Lecturers in the country’s polytechnics embarked on strike about two weeks ago over issues of national research fund, among others.
‘Today, we have thousands of polytechnic students who cannot become graduates because their lecturers are striking over pay and working conditions for close to two weeks, and all we hear from stakeholders is that the said strike action is illegal due to some purported ambiguity of a sort contained in the notice of declaring the industrial action,’ Amponsah Manu noted.
He said as students who had fulfilled their part of the deed by paying fees and making themselves available for training, the least they expected was government’s refusal to settle its indebtedness to the lecturers.
The students attributed government’s lack of interest in addressing issues of the striking lecturers to its gross disrespect for polytechnic education in the country, asserting that ‘simple logic demands that an employer seeks the law to compel his employees to call off an illegal strike.’
‘Why is government not doing so if indeed the strike of our lecturers is illegal?’ Amponsah asked rhetorically.
‘To us, we believe government has at its disposal all it needs to avert this loss on students.’
The polytechnic students also wanted government to put together the boards of the GETFund and the Students Loan Trust Fund.
On the issue of the new research fund to be established by the government, the students said they agreed with the government in principle, but vehemently opposed it on the grounds that it would replace the book and research allowances of their lecturers.
The students again alleged that government appeared to be on course in collapsing the polytechnics through its new policy which requires post-diploma applicants to have two years working experience before they could qualify to do top-up degree programmes.
To them, the policy lacked equity since it sought to recognize HND and other diplomats with no job experience as senior high school leavers.
‘Are the regulators not aware that jobs in Ghana are hard to come by? An HND graduate, practically in the face of the prevailing unemployment situation in Ghana, has to find luck in raising capital to start a business venture and operate it for two years to gain the needed experience for the top-up,’ Amponsah pointed out.
They also expressed outrage over comments purportedly made by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Education in-charge of tertiary education, that government was convinced students use the polytechnics as a means of achieving their failed dreams of university education.
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From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi
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