General News Wed, 18 Aug 1999

NUGS rejects three billion cedis for poor students

The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has rejected the three billion cedi assistance for needy students announced by the government describing it as "woefully inadequate."

NUGS said the offer has come too late and at the time when the universities have only a few days to re-open citing University of Ghana which has only two days to re-open. Mr. Joseph Adongo, President of NUGS, who announced this at a news conference in Accra said "no mechanism has been put in place to enable students have access to the facility."

He said a survey conducted by the authorities of the universities showed that 13 billion cedis is the minimum needed to run the universities for 1999. Mr. Adongo said it behooves the government to make the whole amount available to the universities pending the conclusion of discussions on a long-term solution to the financial crisis facing the institutions.

He said there has not been any scientific analysis on the number of students who could benefit from the amount adding that there are thousands of students with poor financial background who cannot afford to pay the new fees imposed on them.

Mr. Adongo said until the government provided the full amount of 13 billion cedis, students would not give up their struggle, including a national protest march for the withdrawal of the new fees. He announced that if nothing is done by Thursday, August 19, students would march to the Castle to present a petition to the President himself.

An attempt by the students to present a petition to the president last Friday ended at the Castle Cross Roads when police prevented them from moving further. Police charged on them using teargas, water canons and batons when the students started burning effigies coffins of the president, the education minister, deputy minister of education in charge of tertiary education and vice-chancellor of University of Ghana.

Mr. Adongo condemned the police for brutalizing students during Friday's demonstrations and called for investigations. He demanded the resignation of Mr. Kofi Boakye, Commander of the Police Striking Force, who, the students said, asked police to attack and molest them.

Source: GNA