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20.04.2007 Education

Functional Students’ Power

The Good Book, the Bible, makes it clear that there can be no freedom or privilege without a corresponding duty or obligation. That is the essence of the principle that “to whom much is given, much is expected”.

Students, particularly those in public institutions who do not pay tuition fees, including those in the universities and other tertiary institutions, are, indeed, privileged.

But they need all the motivation and encouragement because education is the key to national development and empowerment of the individual.

Without education, the talk about the equality of persons before the law, justice, the rule of law, poverty alleviation and all other policies meant to enhance the welfare of the citizenry will come to naught.

Even the talk on democracy, free and fair elections and constitutionalism will still mean nothing.

That is why we have to do everything possible to provide for the education of our people. However, it has not been possible to provide for the educational needs of all our people.

Therefore, those who are able to access education, including those from the private institutions, must all count themselves privileged.

Since the privileged ones are few, it is, therefore, expected that they will, at all times, demonstrate responsible and acceptable behaviour and leadership examples.

They are expected and also required to direct their youthful exuberance and energy towards functional development, positive growth and qualitative social progress.

Unfortunately, however, in many instances, our students, including university students, do not always demonstrate responsible or acceptable behaviour.

In some cases, they become so dysfunctional that they cause physical damage to public property or even undermine programmes or events organised for their own good.

Dr Martin Luther King has noted that “If one is in search of a better job, it does not help to burn down the factory. If one needs more adequate education, shooting the principal will not help, or if housing is the goal, only building and construction will produce that end. To destroy anything, person or property, can't bring us closer to the goal that we seek.”

It is in the face of these realities that we would want to commend the students of the University of Education, Winneba, who, through their Students Representative Council, have contributed ¢290 million towards development projects in the school.

We see this as a worthy example and an indication that if all the students in our tertiary educational institutions could bring their minds to bear on contributing towards the provision of hostel facilities, which they themselves can then manage, they would succeed.

There are, however, instances of student leaders misconducting themselves by misapplying funds belonging to their own colleagues.

Equally, there are reports of student leaders not giving any account of their stewardship, including the finances. And in a few instances that the authorities have attempted to demand accountability, the students are able to muster solidarity from colleagues to turn round and accuse them of interfering with the way that students must manage their own affairs.

In the midst of such developments, we do not need to miss the good and forward-looking example which must be replicated in all educational institutions through primarily genuine voluntary contributions. There should be no compulsion any way.

Our appeal, however, is that in future contributions could be mobilised towards the expansion of residential facilities to reduce the problems which students who do not reside on campus encounter in their attempt to develop their educational talents.

Kudos, the Students Representative Council, University of Education, Winneba! You have really demonstrated exemplary leadership and responsible behaviour.