Tertiary students residing in the hall of residences of their institutions would from the next academic year be charged for using utility services.
The move is to ensure that those leaving in hostels or in rented premises were not unduly discriminated against as government bore this cost for those on campus and to also minimize government’s expenditure.
Addressing students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) at the second meeting of Campus Connect, an initiative of the Ministry of Education to bring governance to the door steps of students, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah, Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Tertiary, said the move was also to ensure that the educational institutions were able to pay their utility bills and reduce the pressure on government coffers.
Although a firm decision was yet to be taken on the issue, he said it was one of the options the Ministry was considering to ensure that what happened to KNUST last week when the Ghana Water Company Limited disconnected the University for Non-payment of bills “doesn’t happen again.”
He said what happened to the university was unfortunate and apologized to them on behalf of the government for the embarrassment.
He said the water company acted on its own and did not consult government.
Mr Ablakwah explained that even though the government asked all the MMDAs to pay their own utility bills, “government was still taking care of the academic, administration, laboratory and residential use of utilities of the tertiary institutions.”
Last week, as part of the company’s drive to recoup some of the debts owed it by mainly public institution, the Ghana Water Company Limited cut off water supply to KNUST for owing it to the tune of GHC6million. The same fate befell the Kumasi Polytechnic who also owed the company around GHC457, 000.
Going to forward, Mr Ablakwah said students residing on campus would pay for their utilities while government bore that of the administration, lecture halls and laboratories.
Aside helping the government to reduce its expenditure, this, he said, would ensure that students who stayed off campus were unduly discriminated against.
Explaining the rationale of the concept, he said it was an initiative that sought to deepen and broaden governance and to promote accountability.
According to Mr Ablakwah, it was also to enable the ministry to receive feedback from the students on some of the policies implemented by the ministry over the years.
He said though the ministry has received these feedbacks from the student representatives in the past, “this platform affords both the students and the ministry to interact.”
Earlier the Vice Chancellor of KNUST, Prof Williams Otoo Ellis, welcomed the initiative as it would afford the ministry and the tertiary institutions to dialogue on some of the challenges facing the institutions.
He said the embargo placed on employment was posing a challenge to the delivery of quality education at the university.
According to Prof Ellis, there was the need for the universities to recruit more lecturers and supporting staff to meet the challenges of the time and the increasing number of students.
This and the threat of the utility services to disconnect them for non payment of bills, were some of the issues that the programme could help address.
Other speakers at the programme included the minister of agriculture, Mr Fiifi F. Kwetey, Mrs Joyce Bawa-Mogtari, Deputy Minister for Transport; Mrs. Mona Quartey, Deputy Minister of Finance and Mr Felix Ofosu Kwakye, Deputy Minister of Communications.