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23.02.2005 General News

"Yentua!" -NUGS is in no mood to pay

By ADM

Shortage of textbooks in Ghana's educational system has meant that students and lecturers at Ghana's tertiary institutions have to resort to the most unorthodox ways of getting the appropriate texts for their courses like photocopying copiously from pages of books.

CopyGhana - a group representing the interest of Ghanaian writers, is asking students to pay "copyright fees" on textbooks they photocopy for their academic work.

CopyGhana wants this copyright fee to be incorporated in the fee structure of the students which CopyGhana would then collect on behalf of the authors.

This is bringing the group and the National Union Of Ghana Students (NUGS) on a collision course that could end up disrupting academic work on Ghana's campuses.

The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has described as unwarranted, the demand by CopyGhana that its members should pay copyright fees for photocopying texts from course books.

Even though no specific fee has been fixed by CopyGhana yet, the group has asked the students union to meet them for clarification and to decide on the amount appropriate for students to pay.

During the last Central Committee (CC) meeting of NUGS, the committee in an overwhelming two-third majority boycotted the idea of honouring any meeting with CopyGhana.

The meeting was hosted by the Institute of Management Studies (IMS) last weekend at the Ghana Industrial and Commercial Estate Limited near the Kasoa barrier in Accra.

The students have criticized CopyGhana as having no constitutional backing for their proposal and therefore the group's demand was unjustifiable and unwarranted.

With the exception of only three students who shared the same sentiments with CopyGhana, almost all the students who shared their views on the issue underscored that most of the books they photocopy in the tertiary level were not written by Ghanaian authors but rather foreign authors.

They therefore saw no need for CopyGhana to make demands over such an issue.

The students said it was a clear case of CopyGhana trying to exploit them. They also argued that lecturers who reproduce other authors' books and sell to students be made to pay fees too.

The students stated that not all their members photocopy from books and the claim that every student should be billed to pay photocopy fees is "neither here nor there".

NUGS has therefore called on CopyGhana to come out with clear directives to justify their claim on how to monitor those who make photocopies and which books are photocopied.

The students were not also sure whether the foreign authors would have their share of the fees to be collected by CopyGhana.

The few students who shared the same sentiment with CopyGhana reminded their colleagues to support Ghanaian authors to perform above reproach.

They also remarked that some of them would grow to be authors and should therefore be mindful of the way they approach the issue.

In another university related development, Dr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso, Dean of students University of Ghana, Legon has come under criticism by the university's resident board for going public about plans to throw out "perchers" from campus.

Dr. Antwi-Danso last week said, the university authority would eject "perchers" from the campus due to increase in students' population and related problems of overcrowding.

The acting president of the Students Representative Council (SRC) of the university, Miss Josphine Adwoa Ashia, described the "perching situation" on campus as a "necessary evil" and there were worst conditions on campus.

She described theses as "people sleeping in reading rooms, in dinning halls, on the open field, and on benches and that is worst than perching on the floor of a room."

Miss Adwoa Ashia said the Dean's threat created a lot of anxiety and panic on campus because the issue was escalated as a result of increment in enrollment and in-out, out-in policy of the university.

She said the policy only exists on paper and not in reality making accommodation difficult for students from the far corners of the country.

She called on the university authorities "to be gradual on any decision they take" concerning perching for "getting rid of perchers would create more problems.

Let's look for alternative ways of providing accommodation for students on campus and around campus."

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