The Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, has written to the Speaker of the House, Mr Alban Bagbin, requesting to move a motion for the House to suspend the Fees and Miscellaneous Provisions Instrument, 2019 (LI 2386) for the 2021 academic year.
He said the economic conditions of the country at the time parliament approved the fees had changed in the light of the devastation to household incomes engendered by COVID-19 and other factors.
“Parliament and the President will obviously not insist on these fees in light of the prevailing economic circumstances. Essential components of the public tertiary institutions can function without many of the fees and charges requested from students in LI 2386.”
“Student bursaries will only kick in to support students only after they have been able to pay admission fees and entered the universities,” he pointed out.
The Fees and Miscellaneous Provisions Instrument, 2019 (LI 2386), which was passed by Parliament in 2019, sets out the various fees and charges to be paid by students of public tertiary institutions.
Mr Ayariga, in his letter, is asking the House to request that the President should take urgent steps to suspend the payment of admission fees by new entrants into public tertiary institutions and continuing students of those institutions for the 2021 academic year.
In the letter dated January 15, 2020, Mr Ayariga said the suspension of the fees should form part of the national COVID-19 relief programmes being implemented by the government.
He said the urgency of the matter was dictated by the fact that public tertiary institutions were reopening and students who had been offered admission were requested to make payments before they were admitted and would lose the opportunity if they did not pay.
He noted that continuing students were also required to pay their fees now.
Mr Ayariga said the issue was important to the public because many people had lost their jobs due to the economic consequences of the outbreak of COVID-19 which had necessitated the government granting subsidies in the provision of water and electricity.
“The hospitality sector has been hard hit. Workers of private schools in the education sector have not earned income in close to a year. Border towns such as Bawku have suffered economically from the restrictions in cross-border movement and trading,” he stated.
He said most parents and students have not been able to work to save funds to be able to pay fees.
He noted that remittances from abroad have drastically shrunk, with the banking sector crisis causing many jobs to be lost.
After nine months of forced closures due to COVID-19, President Akufo Addo, in his 21st address to the country on updates and measures taken against COVID-19, announced that schools were to reopen for classes.
Kindergarten, primary, junior high institutions resumed on January 15, 2021, while senior high institutions were expected to start classes from March 10, 2021.
Tertiary institutions also resumed on January 9, 2021.
In the midst of the pandemic, the President assured parents that their wards would be safe since all the COVID-19 safety protocols would be observed.
He also directed the Ministry of Education to ensure that all schools were fumigated ahead of the reopening.