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General News of Thursday, 13 January 2005

Source: GNA

University students criticise White Paper on Education

Accra, Jan. 13, GNA - The University Students Association of Ghana (USAG) on Thursday criticised the recent Educational Review Report saying it failed to holistically address the issues of university education, particularly the thorniest issue of funding.

USAG, therefore, called on all stakeholders to give serious attention to university education in order to rescue it from its current predicament.

USAG at a press conference in Accra said it was necessary to address the issue because the major issue of funding was glossed over in the Government's White Paper and that "it appears this nightmare of funding university education is going to remain with us".

Mr Thomas Nyarko Ampem, President of USAG, said though the entire university students' body agreed to cost sharing, the question was what percentage should be borne by students, Government, Universities and Corporate Ghana.

Mr Ampem said at present, the students' body had been informed of the intention of the Vice-Chancellors to increase the Academic Facility User Fees and the Residential Facility User Fees for next academic year by 20 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

USAG said this was unacceptable and called on the Vice Chancellors to, as a matter of urgency, suspend it and return to the discussion table with the students' representatives to ascertain the justification for any increase and what percentage students would be able to pay.

USAG also expressed shock at recent media publications that University students had agreed to pay 10,000 cedis royalty to the Copyright Administration of Ghana (COSGA) for photocopying of books. "We wish to unequivocally deny this assertion".

USAG said the students were not part of the decision to place such a fine on their bill. It said some students' representatives were told of the amount at a round table discussion on January 8 2005 and they instantly refused to pay because there was not enough consultation with the students.

USAG commended Government for separating the Youth Ministry from Education and Sports, but called for separation of the Ministry of Education and Sports, because those two were "hot entities".

It also called on the Government to expedite action on the new Student Loan Trust since the existing loan scheme continued to further endanger the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT). The Women Commissioner of USAG, Ms Rosemaud Nkrumah in an interview with the GNA said the 10,000 cedis across board was too high so it should be pegged at a 1,000 cedis since not every student photocopied books throughout his or her course.

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