Ghanaians are fond of regarding people who speak the truth as being doomsayers and naysayers and this has been the norm for a very long time. No wonder we are still in such a horrible state as a country.
Let me appreciate the Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Professor Obiri Danso for his hard work, instilling discipline and improving on the infrastructural development of the university. Personally, he is doing his best but on the contrary he is overdoing his work and there is absolutely no proper planning of his activities.
Why do I say this? He begun by constructing pavements all around campus in which hard earned money is paid to do so yet this same pavements are being destroyed to expand gutters, to rebuild old facilities and even construct roads. For many of us we are wondering, “Why wasn’t the roads built, the gutters constructed then the pavements done? This is chronological and will save money.
However, we see a haphazard and African way of doing things where, the pavements are done, the roads are constructed then they want to now build gutters in between the roads and pavements. By this, it means there is going to be pressure on the already constructed roads with the heavy machinery which will affect the finished pavements all in the name of building the gutters. Let’s think about it!
Talking about pavements, I’m fully aware that it is very expensive and we know that KNUST does not have a block factory where they mold their own bricks for their buildings even though they have a building technology departments in the school. Many of us, students are witnesses to how pavements are done, where after few months they are destroyed to build something and redone.
Again, big gutters are very much needed on campus and off campus due to the heavy rains we have been experiencing in the past few years. The authorities are making efforts to build gutters and other channels on campus to prevent flooding, but I must again confess that these gutters are still small to contain these torrential waters.
That notwithstanding, KNUST is not only about campus but off campus as well. At least those on campus are a bit secured but I bleed for our brothers and sisters who are off campus – the road networks are very poor, many areas have no gutters and more annoyingly, hostel managers are building on waterways, others are converting and rebuilding their old ramshackle houses into hostels and homstels with their foundations very weak. These hostel managers do not care because business is booming and that’s all that matters. We are in a death trap!
It may interest us to know that for sometime now KNUST is practicing what many of us call the in-out, out, out, out! This means that now as a first year student you will only be lucky or you could only be in the halls of residence by some providence. If you are unlucky then you have no choice than to go to the hostels and homstels. I bet you if your father does not work at the mines, ministries or is not affluent enough you really can’t foot the bills.
Maybe you might think I’m exaggerating but let me give you an overview of how much is charged in these hostels. In the traditional halls of residence, the Unity Hall, Africa Hall, University Hall, Republic Hall, Queens Hall and Independence Hall are charging Ghc 1050 (that’s 10 million old Ghana cedis). The private hostels on campus Brunei and Hall 7 are charging not less than Ghc 1500 (15 million old cedis) and as high as Ghc 5000 (50 million old Ghana cedis).
Hostels and Homstels off campus, are now charging between Ghc 1500 and Ghc 7000.
From my search and enquiries, I am told that many of the hostels have increased the rent by a margin of Ghc 500 this year. So hostels which cost Ghc 1000 last semester are now Ghc 1500 this semester. Why? “Because students have arrived, they have the money and whether they like it or yes they must pay or risk sleeping outside because even perching is not allowed in hostels any more”, one of the hostel managers quizzed!
First year students are novices, they need to be catered for and protected yet many are stranded, displaced and confused. Their studies will definitely be obstructed and if care is not taken, they will perform poorly due to many factors.
What then is the role of the university? Only to admit students, teach them, make them write exams, mark the exams and pass or fail them? No, I beg to differ!
There’s more to education than that. The environment must be conducive, their rights protected, they should be inspired and above all they should be loved and cared for by listening to their views and addressing their concerns. That’s education and not this hullabaloo, not this Mumbo-Jumbo, African traditional education.
I want to plead with the university authorities that they need to be proactive. We are fed up with the reaction without action, the motion without vision attitude.
I humbly recommend the above areas that will help make both on campus and off campus a better place to live, study and build better interrelationships between students and the community.
These are the recommendations;
- Regulate how hostel fees are charged. There should be a system. Hostels must not charge above a certain amount that is outrageous.
- Hostel Managers off campus should be called upon with immediate effect to contribute some amount of money that will be used to build gutters, bridges and roads among others in these areas.
- There must be Police posts or Police stations in and around this communities where hostels are located. By this students can report or make complaints to these stations as quickly as possible to reduce robbery.
- The University should plan how they plan building among other projects on campus. Construction works should not be on going whiles students are on campus and in class learning. The noise, the dust is a nuisance to students and it must be stopped. Why won’t you paint when school is on recess but rather during school hours.
- KNUST is a Science and Technology University for God’s sake! Let’s utilize the expertise we have in building facilities. Students should be part of the planning, constructing, building and renovation processes. If the government won’t do it, the university should make it a point! Involve students for they know a lot!
- Finally, I want to suggest to the authorities to equally respect the candid views of students as we have always and will always respect their views. They should desist from imposing issues, ideas, plans and others on students. In the university, we are not kids, we are men and women with families, we are responsible. We are adults and we have rights!
I believe that there are many observations, suggestions, recommendations and views that are held by many students and even alumni and it will be in the interest of the university to interact with us so we jaw jaw and reach an acceptable compromise.
I equally call on other stakeholders to come onboard as we tackle these pressing issues. Ghana is breaking at the seams, we are heading into the bad lands therefore we need to help one another to make Ghana better.
Let me end by saying with all frankness that for a very long time now I do not trust in the media for unearthing and addressing pressing issues in this country. The comedy, the mediocrity, the funfair is unbecoming and we are losing faith in them but if they wish to redeem themselves then they are invited to be part of nation building. They have a great tool that when used effectively can change the fortunes of this country.
The Writer is Martin Selorm Attopley, a Graduate and A Kufour Scholar.
You can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0543214520