Opinions Tue, 17 Jul 2018

Conversion of unity hall, a lazy approach to a systemic problem

One issue that comes up each time there is a stalemate between the two all male halls on the campus of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is the conversion of Conti and Kantaga to as it were ‘tame’ the boys (I sometimes wonder the status of Sarbah). This has traveled over the years with no apparent solution to put the perennial display of youthful exuberance exhibited by the boys to rest. For those of us who were gifted the rare privilege of been admitted to KNUST, the biggest challenge to date remains accommodation. With the passage of the the in-out-out policy, a chunk of students are left to fend for themselves outside the confines of the university’s main campus where the ‘locus parentis’ role may be truncated. The conversion of Unity Hall to a mixed hall in order to accommodate more females is obviously a lazy approach to a systematic problem.

In my first year in 2009, a room adjacent mine had about 15 boys occupying a space meant for 4 boys in an informal tenancy agreement popularly known as ‘perching’. The books had its own statistics of residents in Conti but as inmates, we knew what a palpable lie it was. The numbers were actually double of the official figures if not more. Ordinarily, every student would want to enjoy campus life but the in-out-out Policy impedes this dream and few on-campus accommodation spaces available at the GUSS Hostel complexes and Tek Credit Hostel are acquired at premium prices at rates that can only be compared to the cedi, its jailbreak and subsequent nosedive. It looks as if these on-campus hostels cash-in on the situation to the extent that the invincible hand would prevent any form of competition to its brain child by any mean necessary.

Now here’s the thing, KNUST as an institution that prides itself in the culture of excellence as one of its main core values has failed to add a single ‘block’ to its traditional accommodation facilities since 2009 ( at least that’s what I can speak to) and it’s difficult to fathom if the powers that be are actually aware of the growing numbers. Take the pragmatic university of Ghana example for instance, they built annexes and sought financial assistance in putting up the Limann-Jane Nelson enclave, that’s what proactive leaders do, they don’t engage in knee jerk reactions to systematic issues. STEM is a good initiative which all must embrace but in proffering solutions, we must show astuteness and not laziness in thinking. Several hundreds of first year students had to find their on accommodation outside campus because of the high numbers and the few spaces available on campus. With the introduction of the parallel programmes, the intake shot Up astronomically and as such displacing a few boys to put in some daughters of eve is definitely not the panacea to this peril.

KNUST must as a matter of urgency make provision for a permanent solution to its accommodation crisis and not embellished temporary ones. According to the URO, the university doesn’t have the needed funds to expand the existing facilities or embark on a large scale accommodation project like University of Ghana did but I would want to take this opportunity to remind him and his superiors that KNUST is a big name with enormous goodwill, all they need to do is to put the name of the institution to good use. They can engage real estate developers in a Build-Operate-Tranfer (BOT) agreement or assemble a consortium of banks to prosecute this all important agenda.

In all this, let’s not forget that the motto of our dear KNUST is and remains ‘nyansapo wo sane no badwenba’

Let’s choose proactiveness and innovation ahead of laziness in thinking.
Columnist: George Sarpong,