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General News Mon, 9 Sep 2019

KNUST Hall Conversion: Ministry’s divisive approach rekindling unnecessary tension – Unity Hall

A letter sighted by ABC News from the leadership of the Unity Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) suggests that the approach employed by the Ministry of Education in dealing with the issue of conversion of halls at the school may not be one all stakeholders will be happy about.

The Management of the University, a little over a year ago, hinted of the conversion of some six halls including the University Hall (Katanga) and Unity Hall (Continental) into mixed halls in line with the university’s aim of expanding access to female students and promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics study by offering them a place of accommodation.

This decision was met with stiff opposition by leadership and alumni of both halls who petitioned the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders to halt the intended decision.

But in a letter purported to be from the Education Ministry September 6, 2019, the government urged authorities of the Kwame Nkrumah Univerisity of Science and Technology (KNUST) to reconsider their decision of turning all-male Katanga Hall into a mixed one.

According to the letter signed by the sector Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku, the move by the suggestion to halt the conversion of the said halls is “To preserve a peaceful and conducive environment for academic work and cordial relationship in the University.”

The intervention has not gone down well with leadership of the Unity Hall, who believe the approach by the Education ministry is divisive and will cause unnecessary tension and reactions from members of the other halls that have also been affected by university’s policy..

The letter, a copy of which is in ABC News‘ possession stated, “The attention of the leadership and members of Unity Hall has been drawn to a release purportedly endorsed by the minister of education which is circulating various media houses and the public, suggesting an entrenched position of the ministry through the honourable minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh on the re-conversion of a hall, as a solution to preventing the reoccurrence of the previous year’s demonstration and public disturbance.

We wish to expressly state, that we are highly disappointed with the content of the said letter, and the approach used by the government knowing very well that, the letter would only serve a purpose of rekindling unnecessary tension and reactions from members of the other two halls, that have been affected by this conversion. UNITY HALL has emphatically expressed our discontent with the conversion through petitions submitted to the Chancellor of the University, the very same office of the minister of education, as well as filing a legal suit to contest the decision in court which had all proven futile hence the regrettable incident” the letter indicated.

According to the leadership of the Junior Common Room Committee (JCRC) of the Hall, “The letter, irrespective of its authenticity is very suggestive of the deliberate rubbishing of the concerns of members of UNITY HALL by the ministry, and an evasive and intrusive approach to dealing with the occurrences and the present safety of students in a resolution to curb the incidents of October 22nd, 2018. The resultant effect of the release has raised tension among studentsw who hither had been calmly awaiting the address of the Chancellor on the committeee report”

The six-paragraphed ‘letter of intent’ forewarned the Ministry that any ‘unforeseen actions’ which will result from their position on the issue will be the responsibility of the Ministry and by extension, government to bear.

“The burden of putting any halt to unforeseen actions due to the agitations being sparked by the minister’s release will therefore solely be the burden of government. We have observed that the ministry is only reactive to threats of violence as opposed to the subtle approach of dialogue which members of UNITY HALL have chosen” the letter noted.

It added, “Our silence in recent times is because we still remain open to peaceful dialogue with the ministry and stakeholders, for the prevalence of sanity and peace. However, should the Ministry remain dismissive of our approach, we may strongly reconsider our posture”
Source: abcnewsgh.com
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