Monday, May 24, 2010

USAG CALLS FOR PROBE OF PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES (PAGE 11, MAY 24, 2010)

THE University Students’ Association of Ghana (USAG), a group within the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), has called for a presidential inquiry into the use of Internally Generated Funds (IGF) in public universities.
It said there was no doubt that public universities were generating so much from the IGF but how the money was used for the benefit of the universities, students and the nation remained unanswered.
At a news conference in Kumasi at the weekend to throw light on the state of the university students today, the USAG President, Mr Enoch Anhwere Afoakwah, said the judicious use of the IGF would relieve the government of some of the burden in running the universities.
He stressed the need for the judicious use of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and the proper disbursement of the Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF).
Mr Afoakwah stated that the cardinal reason for instituting the SLTF had been defeated as students faced massive extortions from the disbursement in the name of “a protection scheme”.
The USAG President further expressed concern about the charging of exorbitant fees in the universities, which was depriving a number of students the access to university education.
He cautioned against any fee increment in the public universities for the next academic year saying, “We shall advise ourselves if any such increment happens”.
The USAG president expressed concern about the pain parents had to go through in meeting the financial demands of their children and called on the government to implement the provision of the 1992 Constitution which stated, “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means and in particular, by progressive introduction of free education”.
Mr Afoakwah spoke against the inability of the nation to develop a comprehensive youth policy after 16 years of trying to do so.
He said the first government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) used seven years to develop a youth policy, which received the government White Paper but was later reviewed and received Cabinet approval in December 2008.
The policy, he noted, has currently been subjected to another review and the belief is that it is at the Cabinet level.
He said failure to give the policy a clear focus had contributed in various negative acts including the seizure of state property, drug addiction, disrespect for authority and improper dressing among others on the part of the youth.
He also lamented the lack of part-time work for students during holidays.
“It is disturbing to see university students pregnant with knowledge, skills and energy, staying at home without the state utilising their potentials and giving them industrial and occupational experience but rather deterring them with the so-called ‘minimum working experience’ for a job after completion of school,” he said.
Mr Afoakwah noted that the practice of looking for work experience before employment was only meant to make fresh graduates jobless.