The Outgoing President of the National Union Ghana Students (NUGS) Mr. Kenneth Edudzi Abotsi has asked the government to stop crying foul over the issue of the brain drain and the exodus of trained professionals, saying the cost of their training was borne by themselves.
He added that if the government believed that the academic degree acquired by an individual remains the bona fide property of the individual and he or she should bear the full cost of training, then the property owner had the right to make his or her services available to any country he or she liked.
Mr. Abotsi was giving his farewell speech at the weekend to hand over the baton to the newly elected president, Mr. Abubakari Forgor of the University College of Education Winneba.
The former students president stressed that past and present leaders of the nation, including University authorities, "should bow their heads in shame for letting this country down and collapsing the education system, including university education from which they benefited free of charge."
Mr. Abotsi said the elite group who had controlled political power since independence had collapsed every state social institution, such as education, health, water, electricity, housing, roads and transport that were established by the colonial masters.
He added that these short-sighted leaders, after collapsing these state institutions had decided to privatize them only to be enjoyed by the few privileged who could afford to pay for these services to the detriment of the 90% Ghanaians who lived below the poverty line.
Mr. Abotsi echoed the sentiments of the president of the Ordinary University Association Ghana (OUSAG) MR. Yaw Mensah Poku that government in corroboration with university authorities was privatizing state universities thereby making it a privilege and not a right, as enshrined in the nation's constitution.
Mr. Abotsi supported his assertion with a startling revelation from the Core Welfare Indicators Questionnaire for the 2003.
The report of the questionnaire revealed that about 56% of Ghanaians are dissatisfied with their household financial situations, 55% say they are poorer than they were in 2002. The report also revealed that about 26% of male and 27% females could not enrol in schools because of poverty and high cost of education.
Mr. Abotsi maintained that it was the negligence of successive governments to fund education that made the Union fight fearlessly a few years to get the GETfund established to carter for the funding of education in the country.
He added that it was therefore regrettable that after the establishment of the fund "students continue to gasp for breadth in packed lecture halls and scramble for places of abode on the various campuses, yet some elements in the students leadership based on their parochial interests, don't see anything wrong with the government in huge arrears of the funds against the law that established it".
He alleged that government has ridiculously made "ring fencing" arrangement to pay the arrears in five years, yet the poor students who paid 2.5% VAT through various means had not been given that "ring fencing" arrangement to allow them pay their fees in flexible terms.
He added that the implication of this illegality act of the government was that, the government was reneging its responsibility to provide affordable education to poor Ghanaians, whiles digging its fingers into the little that was being faithfully contributed by the tax payer.
He reminded the new executive that their duty was to pursue vigorously and fearlessly an agenda that was congruent with reason why they stood to be elected and their ability to put the government on its toes to provide quality education for all.
"Your duties are not how many trips you are able to organize in a year, how many officers desert the union when the fly out on official assignment and how short minded members supply classified information of the union to politicians thereby mortgaging the future of the nation's students in pursuing an agenda in the interest of all students."
Mr. Abotsi also deplored the dictatorial tendencies of university authorities "who by themselves are failures in their endeavor, because having benefited from free tertiary education, including tuition, food, water and electricity and having been given the mandate to manage, collapsed the very system they benefited free from, yet they don't want students to contribute in finding solutions to their failures".
The in-coming president, Mr. Forgor stated that his vision was to re-organize the union and to improve its corporate image so that it could attract the public sympathy and the support it needed.
He added that there was the need to construct a NUGS secretariat complex to carter for the union's administrative responsibilities.
Mr. Forgor, therefore, appealed to the government, the private sector, NGOs and individuals to help the union both in cash and kind to be able to realize this dream.