Poly Students Strike Thursday

Sulemana Hakim (Third Right) and other members of GNUPS

Polytechnic students across the 10 regions of Ghana have threatened to embark on a nationwide demonstration on Thursday, May 29, 2014, in demand for the return of their lecturers to post ‘within 48 hours’.

According to them, should the government fail to respond to their needs after the strike on Thursday, they would be heading to court to seek for a legal redress over the matter.

Speaking on behalf of polytechnic students at a press conference on Monday in Accra, President of the Ghana National Union of Polytechnic Students (GNUPS), Sulemana Hakim, noted that the ongoing strike action by members of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) has the potential of preventing over thousands of polytechnic students who are in their final year from graduating.

According to him, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government as a socialist democratic government ‘has been so insentive to the plights of its citizenry, especially students.’

Discriminatory Policies
Mr Hakim noted that ‘government with its recent policies is making tertiary education in Ghana very discouraging.’

According to the students’ leader, the Mahama-led administration’s educational policy continues to discriminate against polytechnic education in the country, adding, ‘We the leadership of the Ghana National Union of Polytechnic Students (GNUPS) across the 10 regions have gathered here to register our discontentment over the conscious marginalisation of polytechnic education and the shameful situation of government’s inability to create and maintain the systems we need to run our education without pointless interruptions.’

He could not fathom why government under the watch of the Ministry of Education had decided that post diploma applicants must have two years working experience before being qualified to do a top-up for degree ‘when it is not easy to get job in the country.’

He described the act of some public universities refusing to give senior high school graduates with grade D7 the chance to pursue university education as ‘worrisome and a deliberate attempt to cause an unnecessary division within the educational system where only the rich class will have the chance to attain higher tertiary education.

‘Admissions requirements are basically aimed at ensuring that students are ready for tertiary-level work. We always disagree when these government agencies use it as a means of managing the limited spaces of tertiary institutions in Ghana,’ he added.

Commenting on the Ghana Education Trust Fund Board (GETFUND) and the Student Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) Board, Mr Hakim in his statement wanted to find out what was stopping President Mahama from setting up the two boards.

According to him, polytechnic students nationwide are not in any disagreement whatsoever with the government for its intention of establishing a national research fund to promote developmental research.

However, he said, ‘We vehemently oppose to government’s policy of replacing the Book and Research allowance of our lecturers with the fund.

‘As a public knowledge, government already is not doing too well with the management of statutory funds in the country and this diminishes our confidence in the smooth running of a research fund when established,’ he added.

Furthermore, he said, ‘We are saddened that in spite of the economic hardships and high cost of education in the country, government has decided to withdraw subsidies and subventions to public tertiary institutions in the country.’

By Melvin Tarlue

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