Resolve impasse at KNUST - MPs tell govt

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru
Sam George
Sam George

Members of Parliament (MPs) have urged the government to work with stakeholders to resolve the impasse at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi and ensure an immediate reopening of the university.

They called for the speedy reconstitution of the University Council and restoration of the Vice Chancellor, Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso.

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They asked the government to, as a matter of urgency, continue engagements with the Chancellor of the University, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, in executing the road map to the opening of the university within the stipulated time.

They further called on the various stakeholders, including UTAG-KNUST, TEWU, GRASAG, the SRC and Alumni Body to work conscientiously with one goal of restoring full academic and administrative work on campus.

The legislators made the call yesterday following a statement on "The Current Impasse on the Kwame University of science and Technology" read by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Ningo-Prampram, Mr Samuel Nartey George.


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Mr George, who is an aluminus of the KNUST, read the statement on behalf of MPs who are old students of the university.

The KNUST has experienced disturbances recently following a demonstration embarked upon by the students over what they described as unwarranted brutalities meted out to them.

On October 22, 2018, some of the aggrieved students took to the streets on the campus, protesting vehemently about the university’s alleged manhandling of some of their colleagues, destroying property in the process. That led to the closure of the university.

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Tradition

Mr George said as old fellows and continentals from the University and Unity halls respectively, they held dear the traditions of those two great halls that helped shape and guide them during their sojourn on campus.

He said the all-male halls played a special role in the ecosystem of campus and added to the overall experience that the KNUST offered its students.

Mr George said it, therefore, came as a worrying news to them and like-minded fellows and continentals, the intention to convert those traditionally male halls of residence to mixed halls.

"One would have thought that tradition would be respected and upheld. It is not for nothing that sorority and fraternity halls in Ivy League institutions have been maintained in some cases for over two centuries. It also seems worrying how a policy aimed at increasing female intake has ended up reducing the number of males in traditionally male halls.

"This lends credence to the suggestion that the removal of all male students from the ???Main Hall of the University Hall??? goes beyond the announced policy decision to a more purposed intent to emasculate and dilute student power, the fulcrum of which is the University-Unity Hall axis," he said.

Mr George said his position and that of his colleagues was that the increased female enrolment must not come at the cost of several decades of tradition.
He said there were several novel ways by which the issue could be addressed and tradition also preserved.

For instance, he said, there was a proposal from a consortium of banks, led by CAL Bank Ghana, to invest substantially in the provision of accommodation facilities on campus, and expressed surprise at why the proposal had not been acted upon and appeared to be facing some resistance.

"This model is workable as it guarantees a return on investment for any investor. There exist success stories which the administration of KNUST can learn from. It is even more imperative to look proactively at increasing accommodation and learning facilities on campus as one can safely project an increase in the number of applicants in the next two to three years on the back of the increased numbers currently enrolled under the Free Senior High School (SHS) education policy," he said.

Deadline

Mr George said another worrying issue was the issue of a 10pm deadline for students on campus, indicating that that was simply outrageous.

"University students cannot be subjected to what is at best an attempt to create a prep time and sleeping time on campus. These are adults and they must be accorded the necessary dignity of adulthood. How then do we situate the late-night study group meetings that we all were a part of in this restrictive time arrangement?" he queried.

Mr George said the need for bonding was also essential as it helped build a nation of intricately woven citizens.

More concerns

The Minority Leader and NDC member for Tamale South, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said the move taken by the university authorities regarding the conversion of the all-male hall into a mixed hall was not a popular decision and must be reviewed.

He blamed the government for dissolving the KNUST Council without resorting to the necessary legislative requirements.

Mr Iddrisu condemned the KNUST security guards for their brutality on the students and also faulted residents for going overboard with their demonstration.
He suggested that Parliament should consider getting uniformed acts for the various public universities.

The NDC MP for North Tongu and former Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa; the New Patrotic Party (NPP) MP for Effutu, Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, and the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak who is the NDC member for Asawase called on stakeholders to work towards restoring normalcy on campus.

The Majority Leader and NPP member for Suame, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, disagreed with the suggestion of having uniformed acts for the various universities since they had different mandates.