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26.10.2005 General News

Accommodation situation worsens on university campuses

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Accra, Oct. 26, GNA - Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, President of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), on Wednesday said accommodation problems on the university campuses had grown from bad to worse. He told journalists in Accra that the situation was so bad that "students sleep anywhere just to survive".

"Some students of the University of Ghana (UG), Legon, sleep in the corridors of the Balm Library and the Chemistry Department overnight, whilst others sleep in a place called M-Plaza on campus, known for its deplorable state."

He said at the Cape Coast University, students were forced to hire mud houses without windows and electricity in the environs of the university at "wickedly expensive rates."

Mr Ablakwa said the accommodation problem facing UG in particular was due to the University's own policy, which deterred potential private hostel accommodation providers from taking advantage of the large land available at the University.

He said the University insisted in its policy that hostels built by private people on lands provided by the University became its property after 15 years of its operation by the private investor.

"NUGS thinks this policy is not helping matters because private investors are deterred by it and students suffer in the long run." Mr Ablakwa said the other side of the problem was that private hostels charged exorbitant rates and those who could not afford end up on the corridors of the universities and anywhere on campus where they could find peace for four to five hours a night.

He urged the University Administration to rescind that policy in the interest of the students.

"Very soon we will be mounting an exhibition dubbed 'See Our Plight, Save the Future', to bring the attention of Government and public to the plight of the current generation of students in order to prevent similar situations in the future," he said.

Mr Ablakwa also noted that NUGS had been given several ejection notices to leave its current office in the Ghana Football Association (GFA) Head Office building.

The NUGS President said certain government officials asked the previous NUGS executive to take photographs of identified abandoned State buildings and present them to the appropriate government institutions so as to be given space in any of those building to use as office.

That, he said, was not feasible because it was not easy to tell which State building was abandoned and which one was not.

He blamed the plight of NUGS on "unfaithful politicians", who, he said, were only interested in the NUGS when they were in opposition, but when they got into government abandoned the students.

"We have learnt our lessons - we have realized that oppositions do not provide structures and for that matter we the new executive have sworn to be focused on our duty to the students of this country and refuse the interference of any politician," he said.

Mr Ablakwa also called on the Government to expedite action on the implementation of the Students Loan Trust (SLT), saying it was long overdue.

Mr Ablakwa noted that though Parliament earlier this year approved an amount of 60 billion cedis from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to start the SLT, it was yet to take off.

He lauded the Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS), saying that it eliminated all forms of corruption and favouritism in senior secondary school admissions. However, he pointed out that NUGS was not satisfied about untold hardship it had visited on parents and students.

"It appears to NUGS that the needed research and the gathering of the reliable data that would have curtailed all these defects were not done before the CSSPS was implemented.

"NUGS, therefore, calls on the Ghana Education Service (GES) to expedite the placement exercise so that stranded parents and students can find peace."

The NUGS President also proposed that in future, there should be a quota reserved in all schools in the districts, so that students in those district who did not get their initial choices could be placed in these schools, which were closer to them rather than the current placement of students very far from their home.

Mr Ablakwa also lauded the 30,000 cedis capitation grant offered by the Government at the basic school level, saying the fact that the policy had doubled and in some cases tripled basic school intake, was evidence of how many children could go to school if education was made affordable.