The University Students' Association of Ghana (USAG) have called on the media and the general public to refrain from shifting focus from the real cause of the demonstration staged by the students of KNUST.
Addressing a press conference in Accra on Monday, the president of USAG, Albert Opoku Kissi condemned the brutalities displayed by students during the demonstrations.
“We unreservedly condemn the destruction of properties during the demonstration, notwithstanding the fact that we cherish the lives and welfare of our colleague students in KNUST as paramount.” he said.
Opoku Kissi said, the cause of the demonstration should be shielded by the destructions of properties but attention must be paid to it to ensure the issue is resolved once and for all.
“The union has observed that, after the demonstration, many people have twisted the story to favor their own maybe, parochial interests especially on the immediate reason for the demonstration, some want to skew the immediate reason to Conversion of the single sex halls, which could probably be considered a remote cause” he said.
He described as ‘regrettable’ the fact that the demonstration which was intended to be a peaceful one unfortunately was characterized by violence.
“It is unfortunate, the intended peaceful demonstration was characterized with violence, due to compounded and cemented anger and frustration on students’ he noted.
According to him, the demonstration was sparked by the unfair treatment meted out to students by school security and the attempt by management of the school to ignore the grievances of student when their attention was drawn to it.
Meanwhile, government has formed an interim management council led by Nana Effah Appenteng to investigate the matter.
Read full statement below
PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION OF GHANA (USAG).
Members of the Press All Students The General Public Ladies and Gentlemen; The University Students' Association of Ghana (USAG) thanks you for making time for this Press Conference today. USAG is the mother umbrella of all Universities in Ghana that seeks to ensure the welfare of the over three hundred thousand (300,000) university students across the country with the aim of promoting personal and national development.
The Union's mission is to contribute its quota as an academic and intellectual community to the national, continental and global development agenda through constructive engagement with the people, agencies and organizations which have a stake in the socio-cultural, economic and political growth, progress and transformation agenda.
Over the years, USAG has been involved in Advocacies, Campaigns, Project Initiatives and Implementation, Information dissemination and capacity building programs that focus in areas including Health and Education, Youth empowerment, Good governance and Economic development and growth.
On Monday, 22nd of October, 2018, USAG backed the SRC of KNUST to demonstrate to the university's management to address issues of students brutality.
Unfortunately, the intended peaceful demonstration was characterized with violence, due to compounded and cemented anger and frustration on students. We unreservedly condemn the destruction of properties during the demonstration, notwithstanding the fact that we cherish the lives and welfare of our colleague students in KNUST as paramount
IMMEDIATE CAUSE OF THE DEMONSTRATION
The union has observed that, after the demonstration, many people have twisted story to favour their own, maybe, parochial interests especially on the immediate reason for the demonstration. Some want to skew the immediate reason to Conversion of the single sex halls, which could probably be considered a remote cause. Setting the record straight, the SRC of KNUST led students to engage in demonstration after security personnel’s who are supposed to protect students rather chose to brutalize students on Friday, 19th of October, 2018 for having a vigil night on campus for a departed brother.
That brutality was one of the several brutalities of students by the campus security men for trivial or virtually no offense by students. As intellectuals who have rights, it was unfair to be treated as such and hence the need to go on that demonstration to express their displeasure to management regarding the brutality, since most avenues of dialogue had failed.
INTERIM MANAGEMENT COUNCIL
We hereby applaud government for its swift and quick intervention by setting up an Interim Management Council to attend to students’ grievances. USAG welcomes the Nana Effah Appenteng- led Interim Council and would like to urge them to execute their mandate within the two weeks (which ends on 8th November, 2018) to call back school for academic work to continue and help the academic calendar take its full course. We further entreat you to dig and dive into the full nitty-gritty of the very issues troubling students in the school and fully do due diligence in resolving them for the academic freedom and tranquillity of students.
USAG wishes to call on the Interim Governing Council to organise an open students forum for the KNUST Students especially their students leaders to speak to their issues and concerns and not directly from the SRC.
We again call on all well meaning Student Leadership and all Stakeholders to rally support behind the Nana Effah Apenteng led Interim Governing Council in their quest to find lasting solutions to the impasse.
USAG RESPONSE TO UTAG-KNUST
USAG is saddened and disappointed by the strike action threatened/undertaken by the KNUST's University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG). It’s quite unfortunate. We would like to quiz them the following few questions; - Where was UTAG-KNUST when students consistently complained bitterly about brutality by security personnel and other inhuman treatments in the school? Were they deaf, dumb and blind during those material moments?
- What was UTAG’s stand on the brutality of students by the school's security personnel all this while? Or the sound state of the students they teach isn’t on their radar, but the decision as to who should be on the Management Council is?
- If the dissolved Management Council could resolve the issues, why then did they wait for the demonstration, hence destructions? Is it not leadership failure on their part? Wasn’t the Acts and Statutes you’re referring to in existence and in its full capacity to operate when students’ freedom was crippled and paralyzed in the school?
- Is it still the objective of UTAG to teach and impact lives of their students or to define what actions of the government smacks the so-called political interference and frown on the autonomy of the university?
- Is UTAG now serving the interest of an individual, all in the name of loyalty and solidarity for a certain union member?
-Is UTAG recognized by the substituted Act that amended the old law (University of Science and Technology, Kumasi (Amendment) Law, 1990 (PNDCL 240), s. 1(c)] as a member of the Management Council?
On October 27, 2018, USAG called on government to include a representative each from the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) and the University Teachers' Association of Ghana (UTAG) on the Interim Management Council for an ‘effective representation’. We feel honoured to have our request granted by government and we are therefore calling on UTAG to reverse its decision, especially now that a representative of UTAG has been added to the Interim Management Council to enable them contribute their quota in fulfilling the mandate of the council. We would like to reiterate that, UTAG has basic responsibility of teaching.
In the light of these events, we admonish the students and leadership of KNUST to remain calm and focused, as we await a more improved administration pursuant to the instituting of an Interim Management Council. We at USAG have so much confidence in them and believe that they will deliver satisfactorily. Thank you.