If some parents and guardians had been present at the Athletic Oval of the University of Ghana last Monday where the play Campus Landlords was put up, they would have marvelled at the horrible things their children and wards go through to survive on university campuses.
The play was produced by graduate students of the university under their Theatre for Development project. Focusing on the problems confronting the university, the project was in two segments — a performance and a discussion.
The performance touched on issues related to current university use such as sanitation, lack of accommodation, inadequate facilities like lecture halls, over admission of students, overburdening of lecturers, unavailability of water and frequent power outages.
Do parents of students know that an inner room that is normally supposed to be occupied by one person is illegally sold for about ¢3 million upward and is shared by three or four students while a bunk bed in the outer room has a going price of about ¢1.5 million upwards and has two people pairing on it? Even floor space is being sold.
Students also queue for almost everything on campus. They queue to use toilets and bathrooms, queue for library facilities, lectures, food among others.
Lecturers also have their share of problems. In some departments one lecturer has to mark about 2000 essay papers? All these and more situations were brought out during the performance.
During the discussion segment, after the play was evaluated, the audience made up of largely students were given the chance to bring out other issues that were not addressed by the performance.
The enthusiasm and eagerness they displayed when they got up to bring out their problems and suggestions on how best to solve such problems gave a strong indication of the stress the students were under and how much they needed a platform that would address such issues. Had they been given the whole day they would not have run out of issues to talk about.
Speaking to Showbiz, Mimi Dadson, a member of the team that produced the show said that Theatre for Development involved identifying and researching on a problem, creating a scenario or a story about the problem and then holding a discussion with the people involved on how best to find solutions to that problem.
According to her, the most important aspect of Theatre for Development was the discussion segment because it enabled the people affected bring out suggestions on how best to solve the problems affecting them. “The drama segment is only the catalyst”, she said.
Those present at the event included the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Prof Kwesi Yankah, the Director of the School of Performing Arts, Prof Martin Owusu, the Director of Physical Development for the University of Ghana who represented the Vice Chancellor of the University, Mr Philip Azundow, the facilitator of the project, Mr Sandy Arkhurst and lecturers from the Theatre Arts department.
Prof Yankah expressed delight at the fact that the students had decided to turn their spotlight on themselves and their campus and said it would go a long way to help in finding solutions to the problems.
On his part, Mr Azundow outlined some of the things the administration was doing to help assuage the problems confronting the university.
He said they had dug about seven boreholes which they hope augments the water problems on campus. He also said that work on the various student hostels in and around the campus were progressing steadily.