After reading the story of the Vice Chancellor of UCT, Max Price donating an amount of R150,000.00 in contribution towards the student leader’s #FundingFutures campaign of the said school, I thought we really have the capacity to do more. The story reads that “the 2016 SRC is hoping to raise R1 million, which will be disbursed in a process similar to the current SRC Assistance Fund”. The campaign is to provide financial relief to students who are unable to register due to historical debt.
Earlier, Kofi Opare Hagan, my intrepid and blunt friend shared the story of The University of the Free State’s (UFS) student representative council (SRC) members who raised more than R1.2m for students who cannot afford tuition fees this year.
The SRC members themselves had pledged R500 from their own pockets towards the campaign. The president is reported to have said “even though no fees will increase this year, we are still faced with the same challenges. No students who qualify should be de-registered this year. It is upon us to raise funds for the poor students to ensure that they get their right to education,”
The UCT VC Max Price while donating the R150,000 which translates into GhC37,500.00 towards #FundingFutures campaign said, “I wanted to show my support by coming down here to say thank you for volunteering lots of your time on behalf of others. There are many students for whom the money raised here will really make a difference”.
This week, I had scheduled to speak to two brothers who had deferred their courses for a year due to financial constraints. They faced same tragedy this semester too, as their parents failed to service the loans they took to pay 70% of their fees. Th remaining 30% was GhC900.00! For whatever reason, they came late- I mean after the show was over. I rescheduled them for the next day. God being God, a lecturer had offered to pay their fees. I must say they still couldn’t make it to the studio.
Next week, our production team is working on a lady who scored 7As and a B in last year’s WASSCE but is not even dreaming of buying a form worth GhC180.00 to realize her dreams- because there is no money! And trust me, there are several of such.
The University of Ghana SRC in the 2011/12 academic year instituted the SRC Yi Bi Boa Scholarship scheme. Beneficiaries today get an infinitesimal-micro-paltry amount that is a little over GhC300.00- an amount that can neither sustain two weeks of “gob3” (cowpea with gari and palm oil) nor stationary to IA period. The argument is that the numbers are many.
Last semester, during the reading of the SRC budget, we noted that all the committees in the SRC had been allotted an amount of money for transportation. This was in addition to a certain GhC3,000.00 that was meant for transportation of the SRC van as well as allowance of the driver. Everything amounted to GhC5,400.00. Interestingly, the scholarship committee was exempted from the transportation allowance. We reasoned that, that could have been an oversight as we thought the sponsorship committee rather needed more money for transport in order to raise money for needy and brilliant students. When the SRC treasurer finally came to our studio, he explained that, the sponsorship committee was exempted because its activities are limited to campus.
When the SRC of the University of Ghana thought of purchasing power plants to avert the adverse impact of dumsor last academic year, students were levied GhC100.00 at an ungodly time of the semester. As we speak, there is a trade of accusations and counter-accusations between the incumbent and the erstwhile administration on plans for fueling the plants.
While the former says they signed a pact for the fueling to be handled by the SCR and JCR without levying students, the latter says there is no document to show that any such agreement was made. Rather the only document shows that the plant-purchasing-administration gave management of the halls the go ahead to levy students as it were.
Now that we have the power plants, how do we fuel them? Again “the lazy approach” as Karim describes it. Charge students 25, 30 and 50 GhC again at an ungodly hour. Most students tell us they were not informed of any charges while at home. They got to school to pay their academic fees and residents fees only to be told that without paying any of the above fees depending on which hall they reside in, they will not have access to the rooms even if they have fulfilled all their financial obligations but for a certain 25-50GhC for fueling plants.
Some are serving their constituents in a really innovative manner. Others are simply slapping charges on students and we reward them with GhC15,728 as allowance.
But who do you blame? We don’t demand more from those we have given the mandate to serve our best interest. The solutions are more often than not reactionary. One sometimes feels the solutions our leaders throw at us are fast food prepared by the road side to shut the mouths of inquisitive and purportedly biased journalists.
I have always maintained that we can only get what we ask and work for.
Successive administrations have slapped us with levies for any project that will seemingly benefit us directly. For other remote projects that have little or no impact on us, they find ways to access funds everybody forgot existed. The story is not any different for the now. Sadly, it doesn’t look like the future will be any better as aspirants are not even creative with their daily ‘inspirational qoutes’ they copy from the internet and social media. I mean they even copy mistakes!
So yes, student leaders are needed urgently.
What should be their qualification? Creativity and innovation in solving our problems? No. May be no. Perhaps partisan connections, religious bigotry and ethnic ties will do. Well, like you can tell, the writer himself has run out of ideas. Until then, may be we can continue with business as usual or alternatively, we can collectively say no vacancy to what’s jejune and look for the outstanding.