The trouble brewing at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)

Thu, 5 Apr 2018 Source: Raymond Gouldd

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The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is the largest public university in Ghana noted for its interest in Science and Technological education.

The University has over the years produced some of the illustrious men and women in this nation. Among its notable alumni are; Kofi Annan (former United Nations General Secretary), Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings (former First Lady of Ghana), the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama of blessed memory (former Vice President of Ghana) to mention a few.

The University has over the years been facing a peculiar challenge which administrators and management of the University have tried to sweep under the carpet for far too long. This problem is gradually gaining weight and if not probably managed would end up starring us in the face any time soon.

It has often been the case in our blessed motherland that we prefer to be more reactive than proactive and will sit for things to go wrong before offering real time solutions. I write this as a clarion call to the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Works and Housing, tertiary students in KNUST (and Ghana at large), parents, all stakeholders in our educational system and the media.

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology has over the last decade been facing a big challenge of housing its students. Over half (60 %) the student populace of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology reside outside its campus. What is even troubling is that administrators and management of the University are well aware of this challenge but continually admit students beyond its intake.

It has been the University’s policy that all first year students (including foreign students) be housed on campus. However, this policy has become impracticable due to the number of student intake and some administrators of GUSSS Hostel (Brunei) would rather favour a foreign student over Ghanaian students since foreign students pay higher school fees and cost of resident (actually in dollars). This practice has forced some first year students and several continuing students, especially Ghanaian students to seek accommodation off campus.

The real challenge of finding a place of accommodation off campus first has to do with the cost involved in securing it. The average cost of accommodation off campus for a student within one academic year (8 months) ranges between 2000GHC – 2500GHC. Some places off campus cost as much as 6000GHC per student for an academic year. The second and most important issue with staying off campus has to do security.

Over the last 8 years, there have been over 200 cases of theft and robbery targeted at students off campus. There have been accounts of gun point robbery, stealing and assault of students during exam periods and three major rumors of rape during this period that students (some now alumni) of the University can attest to.

Student groups like KATANGA and Continentals have in the past led joint student demonstrations to voice out their concerns to administrators and managements of the University but very little has been done to solve this problem from its main source where is the challenges are emanating from. Rather, the past University administration placed a ban on student for demonstrating against such challenges.

Currently, the security situation on campus has been greatly improved by the introduction of solar generated street lights and CCTV cameras in each hall and hostel of residence but to what extent does this help solve the problem when the vast majority of the student populace (60 %) reside off campus where they are left at the mercy of thieves, armed robbers and the much rumored rapists? My main concern here is; management of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology should do well to provide accommodation for if not all, majority of its students since they are the main stake holders of the University.

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology sits on a several plots of land and to know that a University with a reputation as KNUST have done nothing or so little to solve its long time challenge of housing majority of its students is shameful.

The cost of tertiary education is already burdensome to most parents and to be forced to pay huge amounts for accommodation (average between 2000GHC - 2500GHC) per student each academic year (8 months) is depressing. It is even more gruel to know that TEK Cooperative Credit Union which is made up of some lecturers in the University do whatever it is in their powers to sabotage private investors who come forward to propose viable solutions to help solve the problem of accommodation on KNUST campus.

As compared to the University of Ghana whose management and administration entered into strategic partnerships agreements with some private investors to build places of residence for students, the KNUST administration and management with support from TEK Corporative Credit Union has over the years sidelined offers from private investors.

It is only prudent that a University like KNUST with the land resource at its disposal envision of entering into strategic partnerships with the Government of Ghana or interested private investors to provide accommodation for its students on campus. I will like to plead with leaders in the whelm of affairs and all parties involved to look beyond their personal interests. To the Student Representative Council (SRC) of KNUST, be brave and fight for the interest of students.

To the Office of the Dean of Students in KNUST that has over the last six or seven years been keenly involved and manipulative of the University’s Student Representative Council (SRC) and its elections, please seek the positive interest of the students first. To the TEK Corporative Credit Union that has grown overly pompous since its payout and dubious takeover of GetFund’s project to provide accommodation for students on campus (Hall 7), please accept competition and to the Vice Chancellor whose position has been heavily influenced by politics, please prove your students wrong and put their needs first.

Should there be no students, there will be no KNUST. Parents are paying huge amounts of money aside school fees, students are been held at gun point, others live in fear off campus and don’t have the peace of mind to learn.

Please build student halls and hostels on campus and while at it, please negotiate with hostels off campus to reduce their prices for the sake of your students and parents who go over the moon to provide tertiary education for their wards.

Let’s together build KNUST and make Ghana better. Thank you.

Columnist: Raymond Gouldd