General News of Thursday, 22 December 2011

Source: Daily Guide

Confusion over government Free laptops

The distribution of some rlg branded laptops on the main campus of the University of Ghana by government has sparked a raging controversy among students.

The computers, which are embossed with the coat of arms and the Ghana flag, are being distributed under the supposed ‘one laptop per child’ project but some students of the university believe the mode of distribution is shrouded in secrecy since most of the beneficiaries happen to be either members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) or its Tertiary Educational Institutions Network (TEIN).

The situation has compelled the Tertiary Education Confederacy (TESCON) of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to raise issues with the distribution process, describing it as scandalous.

According to a press statement signed by President of TESCON-Legon, Andrews Asamoah, and other executives of the group, the process defeated the idea of the initiative which was instituted by the late Kwadwo Baah Wiredu under the erstwhile NPP administration.

This, he said, was because “the manner in which the NDC government, through the Ministry of Education, is distributing these laptops to tertiary students is a concern to most University of Ghana students who are not aware of this whole process.”

“We can say with certainty that more than 95% of students did not have any idea about the whole process of the laptop acquisition”, the group noted.

According to Andrew Asamoah, what was more worrying was the fact that beneficiaries of the laptops were students who identified with the ruling party or members of TEIN.

That aside, he said there were also middlemen who took money from students in order to facilitate the process at the ministry in charge, claiming that “these middlemen who are stalwarts of NDC also collect student ID cards to secure these laptops on their behalf for the purpose of selling them.”

Names of beneficiary students, most of who were said to be members of the NDC, were said to be compiled by executives of TEIN on campus for onward submission to the ministry in charge of distribution; a claim President of TEIN-Legon, Rashid Nuhu, denies.

TESCON has however expressed disappointment in the Mills-led government since according to them, the mode of distribution did not reflect the Presidents ‘father for all’ attribute.

They asked rhetorically, “if the government has a clear motive of distributing these laptops, the question is, what stops them from liaising with the various student authorities and their SRCs who can distribute these laptops effectively devoid of all biases and sectionalism?”

TESCON has thus called for a suspension of the distribution of the laptops, with immediate effect, until a transparent mode of acquisition is made clear to all students.

Though he admitted that government was indeed distributing the laptop computers, President of TEIN-Legon, Rashid Nuhu, who spoke to DAILY GUIDE, said TEIN, as group, did not take part in the compilation of names of possible beneficiaries, nor the distribution process.

He said interested students applied through the Chief Director of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, who subsequently made provisions for the laptops.