I will not pretend to know much, but what I know is what I will speak from and what I do not know I hope NUGS, USAG, SRCs AND JCRS of all tertiary schools collectively as a student front will help me with.
I know there is a spirited effort championed by Deputy Education Minister, Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa and the Power Minister to preach the need for you and I to pay for utilities as part of cost for our tertiary education. I know Vice-Chancellors Ghana (VCG) though seemingly unhappy; have been forced to sing the tune of “Students must pay” as they barked (No disrespect. Figurative expression) to students some weeks ago “pay or we will shut down the universities” I know, most importantly, the budget for next year has been laid before parliament. Now this is what I do not know and will kill to know.
Does the budget component for education cover utilities for tertiary schools? Will we pay come next academic year? These are my suspicions: Government is certainly prepared to make us pay as Hon. Ablakwa more than ever, forcefully made, in my candid opinion, a flawed case for us bearing the cost of utilities in his interview with Tv3 after the Finance Minister read the 2016 budget in parliament. Government will unleash onto the airwaves an army of communicators whose bread is buttered by the government.
Their task is neatly defined: Justify to Ghanaians the need for parents to bear extra cost for tertiary education by paying for utilities. The end game is to win public support. Government knows we will agitate and hence they will officially announce, if we are lucky, (they may not at all) this dreaded directive when we go on vacation to our homes and are probably busy looking for internship opportunities or engaged in one.
Thus the probability of agitations and their effectiveness, by way of street protests, marches, etc. will be hugely quelled if not totally. After serious mulling over this matter, this is the little I could come out with to help prevent “had I known.” Let us be clear.
Does the budgetary allocations for education cover cost of utilities in tertiary education? We should ceaselessly force it out from government its clear official intention on the matter NOW! Will our fees slip reflect cost of utilities next academic year? I predict the above may be masterfully hindered by government. So let us engage the minds of Ghanaians in this regard. Let us court attention on the matter.
Let us win public support to put unbearable pressure on government to come clear. This I believe student leaders do not need tutorials on and can do a good job. Now to the student, and of course the parent who bears the cost of our education. Tertiary education, its cost and access has been unconscionably threatened and it is not even as if employment flourishes in today’s Ghana where dividends of cost of education are easier reaped. It’s the exact reverse. It is time we collectively send the signal in its most lucid terms. WE CANNOT PAY.
Source: Jonathan Asare University of Ghana