Opinion | Sep 10, 2018

Open Access of Residential Halls at KNUST to Women is a Human Right

His cynically warped mentality and aversion for both equal rights and equal opportunities for the two traditional genders ought to tell us that Mr. Edem Agbana, a recent graduate of the University of Ghana, who also reportedly served as the President of that flagship academy’s Students’ Representative Council (SRC), deserves to be a registered and dues-paying member of the country’s main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), where he is currently vying for the post of Deputy National Youth Organizer. He deserves to be a bona fide operative of the NDC because like the front-row leaders of his party, Mr. Agbana does not believe in a gender-inclusive open-access educational system. He also very likely was among the hoodlum pack of NDC apparatchiks who railed against the open-access and fee-free Senior High School Policy Initiative recently promulgated by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) recently.

This is why Mr. Agbana has the temerity to tell the Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof. Kwasi Obiri-Danso, and his staff of progressive administrators, that they have better priority decisions to make and policies to implement than their all-too-civilized and academically justified decision to convert all six residential halls on the main campus of KNUST into mixed-gender halls of residence (See “Converting Katanga, Other KNUST Halls to [sic] Mixed Halls Needless – Edem Agbana” Modernghana.com 9/8/18). It may be recalled that the KNUST authorities decided to convert all residential halls on its Kumasi Main Campus into mixed-gender dormitories because the intake of women who qualify to attend the country’s foremost science and technology academy has increased exponentially.

In the past, the relatively low attention afforded the education of Ghanaian women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines ensured that their politically dominant male counterparts were invidiously overrepresented in the academy. Which is why more male-oriented residential halls were constructed at the expense of the inalienable democratic right of our womenfolk to be afforded the same expansive academic and professional opportunities to attend KNUST, in particular, and all the major public tertiary academies in the country in general. You see, freeloading political upstarts like Mr. Agbana scandalously either fail or flatly refuse to appreciate the fact that the taxpaying population of the country includes a humongous percentage of women; and, indeed, women may very well be paying more taxes in support of our public tertiary institutions than the men who have significantly benefited more from such institutions.

The flagrant, illegal and illegitimate perpetuation of such gender inequity is what has given young men like Mr. Agbana the patently false sense of entitlement that makes them think and believe that, somehow, such bona fide public property like the residential halls on our university and college campuses belong to any particular gender, often males, by virtue of established bad practices. But perhaps what needs highlighting here is the fact that had the leaders of the National Democratic Congress and its junta-oriented antecedent, to wit, the Rawlings-led Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), been as progressive and fair minded as they would have the rest of Ghanaian society and the world believe, they would have wisely invested in the provision of adequate facilities for our female counterparts who indisputably constitute the bedrock of the socioeconomic, political and cultural development of the country. And on the latter count, of course, I have in mind the following astute and perspicuous observation made by Dr. JEK Aggrey, made more than a century ago: “When you educate a man, you educate an individual, but when you educate a woman, you educate the entire nation.”

The immortalized Ghanaian educator and scholar also observed that: “The level of the civilization and development of any society can be best measured by the level and quality of education afforded its womenfolk.” Even here in the United States, military academies that used to be the exclusive preserves of men have broken those unsavory and unnatural barriers and are now admitting a remarkable percentage of women, as it has become increasingly clear that except for a few minor differences in physiological structure and physical strength, when it comes to the exercising of our cranial or brain capabilities, women could actually be greater creative and innovative thinkers than their menfolk. It has also been long observed that when both major genders are housed in the same architectural space, the traditionally unruly male species tends to acquire a healthy dose of discipline popularly known as “gentlemanly behavior.”

Mixing them up in residential halls on our college and university campuses ought not to prevent men and women from having their separate fraternity and sorority associations and other gender-bonding organizations off-campus, as has traditionally been the practice. It clearly appears that this is the sore point for the male protesters of such residential admixture, if one may so put it. But there is absolutely no cause for concern or alarm.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
September 8, 2018
E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

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