KNUST governing council dissolved

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The government has dissolved the Governing Council of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and inaugurated an interim seven-member council to run the affairs of the university for the next three months.

Government has also directed that the university should be reopened within 14 days to enable academic work to continue.

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The Interim Council, chaired by Nana Effah Apenteng, Paramount Chief of the Bompata Traditional Area, has a three-month tenure, a statement issued by the Ministry of Education on Thursday afternoon said.

The other members of the Interim Council are Prof Mrs Rita Akosua Dickson, Dr Edward Baffoe-Bonnie, Madam Hilda Haggar Ampadu, Prof Joshua Ayarkwa, Mrs Abena Antwi and Mr Kelvin Sah.

Terms of reference


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The terms of reference of the Interim Council is to asssume the powers of the governing council, to establish the causes of the recent riots on campus, to establish the full extent and cost of damage caused and to resolve the differences between University management and the student body.

KNUST was closed down indefinitely last Monday following a violent demonstration by the students on the campus.

The Interim Council, which was inaugurated earlier Thursday will oversee the day-to-day running of the university and to investigate all outstanding matters in order to expedite the reopening of the university.

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The statement by the Ministry of Education explained that the development follows briefs and recommendations made by the Minister for Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh after he led a delegation, including the Minister for National Security, Mr Albert Kan Dapaah and the Minister-Designate for Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah to Kumasi on Tuesday.

VC’s fate

The fate of the Vice Chancellor on whether or not he would have to continue with his work would be determined by the Interim Council, the Ministry of Education has said.

The students of KNUST have been agitating for the removal of the Vice Chancellor, Prof Kwasi Obiri-Danso, stating he was imposing autocratic decisions on them.

The statement issued by the Ministry of Education was silent on the fate of the VC, neither was he added to the Interim Council.

Clarifying, however, the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum said the Interim Council will determine whether or not to work with Prof Obiri-Danso.

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Background

There were disturbances on the KNUST campus in Kumasi on Monday, October 22, 2018, during which property was vandalised.

The university was subsequently shut down indefinitely upon the advice of the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC).

The statement said the view of the university management, as the delegation observed, was that increasingly, there had been acts of wayward behaviour, hooliganism and incidents of violence on campus, hence the need to take steps to protect life and property.

The position of the student leadership was that the issues go beyond the university’s policy to convert all the halls of residence into mixed-sex halls.

According to the statement, it emerged further that the students felt oppressed by some policies of the university authorities and that they lived in fear.

They believed they did not have enough opportunities for conflict resolution and dialogue with the authorities, resulting in a breakdown of trust between students and the authorities.

Read also: KNUST closed down after riots

Reopen

Accordingly, government’s immediate priority was to expedite the reopening of the university to ensure a smooth return to academic work, a view the statement by the Ministry Education said was shared by the university’s lecturers.

It said government is also mindful of an adverse international image the country would suffer if the university remained closed for a protracted period, especially given the substantial number of foreign students at KNUST.

It said government has been advised by the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) that without a resolution of the relevant matters, it would not be safe to reopen the university.

The statement explained that the Ministry took the view that the Governing Council was not in a position to review its own processes and decisions affecting the student body to guarantee peace.

Subsequently, the Ministry of Education recommended to government the suspension of the university’s Governing Council and the establishment of an Interim Council.

The government subsequently directed the suspension of the KNUST Governing Council and the establishment of a seven-member Interim Management Committee (IMC) chaired by Nana Effah Apenteng, Paramount Chief of the Bompata Traditional Area.

It said government unreservedly condemns the damage to private and public property during the disturbances as unacceptable in any circumstances and states for emphasis that those found culpable following investigations will be surcharged accordingly.

It is the expectation of government that the Interim Council will work assiduously per its terms of reference, culminating in the early reopening of the university to restore normalcy.

Read also: UTAG accuses govt of plotting to remove KNUST VC

UTAG

Meanwhile, the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) says the exclusion of the Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST from the Interim Council was a “smokescreen” aimed at removing Prof Kwame Obiri-Danso.

According to Dr Eric Opoku Mensah, President of UTAG, the action by government by dissolving the council and inaugurating a new one "was most disappointing."

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