Let’s resolve UEW conflict quickly

BY: Daily Graphic

The history of Ghana’s public tertiary institutions is replete with demonstrations and activism by students, as well as teaching and non-teaching staff.

‘Aluta’, as these demonstrations and activism are commonly referred to in campus parlance, have been used in many instances and these have had serious consequences for students, institutions and the nation as a whole.

We recall that in the 1980s, many students in the then three public universities had to spend an extra year doing their courses following demonstrations or other forms of protests that led to the closure of the institutions by the authorities for a whole academic year.

There appeared to be a lull in such demonstrations in recent times until October last year when students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology went on a protest after a number of them had allegedly been brutalised by campus security.

The violent demonstration against what they described as the tyranny of the university administration led to the destruction of properties said to be worth about GH¢1.7 million belonging to some staff members and the university.

As a result, the university was closed down, disrupting academic work for some time.

The issue is still being investigated and the event is still fresh, as the resulting matters have not been laid to rest.

The Daily Graphic is, therefore, worried about happenings on the campus of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), where students are protesting against the dismissal of some lecturers by the governing council of the university.

At the same time at the UEW is a petition by some stakeholders over the alleged involvement of the vice-chancellor (V-C) and a finance officer of the university in the spending of over GH¢5.7 million as honorarium.

The situation at the university has become frosty, with the Member of Parliament for Effutu, Mr Afenyo-Markin, and the University Teachers Association of Ghana joining the students in their call for the removal of the V-C, Rev. Prof. Anthony Afful-Broni.

We see the developments at the UEW as very unfortunate. Only last year, the university was saddled with a power struggle and a legal battle which culminated in the removal of Prof. Mawutor Avoke as V-C and his replacement with Rev. Prof. Afful-Broni.

The Daily Graphic commends the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, for his prompt visit to the campus on Tuesday in an attempt to resolve the issues to restore peace and harmony on the campus.

We appeal to all factions in the conflict to let cool heads prevail.

While we urge the students to be mindful of the nature of their protests, we urge the school authorities and other interested parties not to allow the situation to deteriorate but work towards the speedy resolution of all nagging issues.

 We note that many of the conflicts in our institutions could have been resolved easily if parties to the conflicts had not taken entrenched positions but discussed the issues dispassionately.

The parties must remember that it is only when there is peace on the campus that all stakeholders — students, teaching and non-teaching staff and the administration — can have the peace of mind to go about their activities.

Events at the KNUST last year are too fresh in our minds for us to allow the UEW situation to stay unresolved for long.

The earlier the issues are resolved for academic work to be run smoothly, the better it will be for all.