General News Mon, 29 Oct 2018
The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) chapter of the University Teachers Association (UTAG) has said it would not be moved by the government’s decision to expand the representation of the interim Governing Council of KNUST.The government added a rep from UTAG and the Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (TEWU) after criticism met the setup of the KNUST interim governing council.
The KNUST governing council was dissolved after management-student tensions culminated in violent protests and the school being shut down. Despite the development, the KNUST UTAG Vice President, Professor Charles Marfo, has suggested that the government has misunderstood the complaints of UTAG, which has embarked on a strike in protest.
He told Citi News the lecturers simply want the previous KNUST governing council restored.
“We are only seeking one relief. Bring back our council. Restore it. We don’t want anything else. We are not insisting they put us on any committee. We are just saying bring our council back.”
“It is that council, specified by the Act, that makes the university an autonomous one. It makes the university an international one. It makes the university a university so bring it back,” he demanded.
The lecturers and university administrators, who are also on strike, have maintained that the government failed to follow the due procedure in trying to resolve the impasse between the University management and the students.
Threat to democracy
The Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, criticised the dissolution saying the management of KNUST was being politicised.
“You are politicising the council, and that is dangerous because you are going to give political actors the chance to go into universities and do what they wish and that is dangerous for our democracy and very dangerous for all of us,” he told the press in Parliament.
“When you put in the interim committee, and they find out that after all the university council did not act illegally, what do you do when you have already dissolved them? You don’t even have the power to do that. Within their statutes, they have enough provisions to deal with this.”
The arrest of 10 students and one alumnus of the school compelled the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) to mobilise for the Monday protest.
The students were arrested for a holding vigil on campus last Friday without permission, according to the school authorities.
One other student who was allegedly manhandled by the internal security was hospitalised at the KNUST hospital.
The Executive Council of the SRC said the demonstration was needed to convey students’ frustration over disrespect and oppression by the school.
The arrests came after the KNUST management served notice that it had suspended the organisation of vigils (morales) in the school.
The management said this was because of “several negative issues encountered recently concerning morales in the hall.”
Some of the protesters called for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor.
The SRC said the actions of the campus security and the police officers were a “gross deviation” because the two agencies were instead to protect them.
The Council also promised students that it would ensure the security officers who allegedly beat up students are held accountable while urging students to remain calm.
Over 20 students were arrested following the incident.
A day later, the school was closed down indefinitely.