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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Columnist: B. A. Cephas

Free, compulsory extortion course; enroll in University of Ghana

Whiles Political parties are promising Free Secondary School Education to increase the nation intellectual population for national development, the management of UG- Distance Education program are busily offering Free, Compulsory Course on how to extort and be dishonest to its Distance Education Students unconsciously with regards to determination of School fees component, a situation if not checked could threaten the nations development.

I would like to appreciate the efforts of The Vice Chancellor and his team on how far they have come in administering the institution. I further acknowledge the fact that I am not worthy to untie their shoes intellectually but as a rational being and a student of the University I have a serious concern about their modus operandi on fee components and things that matter to us.

The essence of education demands the building of the human capacity intellectually, practically and morally but the Capitalist conducts of the authorities in handling DE- UG students with respect to fees determination, is gradually defeating the very purpose of the Nation's premier University, an institution in which the state is investing its scarce resources to get the necessary manpower for development.

One would like to ask, what prevents those that would like to run a Capitalists venture from leaving the University to pursue their interest of maximizing profits!

The Nation's public tertiary institutions are some of the avenues to ensure equitable distribution of resources for both the rich and the poor therefore every Capitalist tendency to deny vulnerable youth the opportunity to enhance their social mobility must be vehemently resisted by all meaning Ghanaians.

As citizens and students it would be irresponsible on our part not to bring these to the hearing of the whole world for a lasting solution.

The management has made the fees component of DE students to include things that we do not enjoy at all, and those that we enjoy are equated to that of the regular students even though we do not stay on campus like they do.

It was so shocking to know that, all DE students are charged Field trip/ Long essay/Project work of GHC59.00, right from Level 100 despite the fact that all are not supposed to pay, apart from Social Work students from Level 300. One would like to ask the rationale behind the introduction of this alien component, since they are well aware all students are not to be charged! If this is not naked extortion and Free, Compulsory maladministration tutorials for students, then what is it!

UG-DE has seven campuses across the regions of Ghana with the University's health facility located only at Legon Campus but every DE student irrespective of geographical location is charged GH¢93.00 for the academic year. The question is, why should students who are not on campus to benefit from this facility be charged the same amount that regular students pay?

Course materials that are sold in the institution's bookshop for GHC20.00 are sold to us at GHC 40.00. These Modules are in existence for over five years without any review, it is just printing/photocopy but the cost is being increased astronomically every year.

For instance the, cost for six (6) Modules for 2014/2015 academic year alone is GHC600.00, justifying it based on an intended introduction of Modules in an electronic format (Tablet) to replace the usual books used by students from this academic year.

This is clearly, dishonesty at its peak and a threat to students' moral fabric because there is no indication that, this project would come to fruition this year! In fact, further checks by student leadership from DE institute confirmed this.

It is time for UG to amend its moribund status to recognize the three SRC Presidents at its Council meetings to prevent the situation of some authorities misinforming the Council in an attempt to exploit the already vulnerable students who are struggling to lift up themselves from the dungeon of poverty.

Inclusion of the SRCs would furnish Council with reality on the ground to take an informed decision that affects all students, no matter the mode one enters the University.

It would sadden you to know that a huge number of students who could no more bear this unbridled demands defer their courses and one would not have to be a rocket scientist to know that a student who defers because of GHC1,573.00 in the last academic year, with increment of over 20% would find it difficult to make his/her way back to school in the 2014/2015 academic year. Certainly not in the face of the current economic challenges!

It is surprising to note that, these same authorities schooled with the enjoyment of every facility virtually for free, now manage with exploitation and impunity. The same people were once on the street, demonstrating against what they called discontent; The first famous demonstration, dubbed, 'No bread, no hallelujah', changing from eating chicken and egg to fish and all manner of ugly noises in the street are now causing this economic genocide to students.

UG-DE Students are not demanding anything difficult or demanding that 'whatever is good for the goose is equally good for the gander' but only demanding that components that are alien to them are struck out, those that are equated to the regulars be halved, Course materials that has been inflated because of a fiasco electronic Modules (Tablet) be reduced drastically and the issue of Tutors' selection be left in the hand of the lecturers as students consistently demand instead of management, to justify the colossal Tutorial fees they pay.

Distance education has a lot of advantages to offer its students and the nation as a whole therefore the state should take keen interest in whatever nemesis militating against the program, address it with alacrity in order to make it the best choice for University education.

It should also be concerned with quality of manpower produced by UG and other tertiary institutions to occupy vital parastatal for the promotion of national development because unruly conduct by authorities would naturally be copied by students unconsciously thereby spell doom for the nation's development.

Fellow students, in the face of the current challenges, the concept of unity, collective responsibility, solidarity and strict adherence to instructions from student leadership should be our guiding principle.

Comrade and friends, by the word of the Political thinker, Henry Kissinger 'two egos are about to collide' and the support of every responsible citizen and student is needed to overcome these challenges.

I had a dream and saw the nation's youth made up of both illiterate and the literate, up in fearful opposition saying they could no more accommodate the excruciating injustice by some institution.

The great philosopher Karl Marx refers to it as 'executive committee for managing the affairs of the bourgeoisie' and the state was unable to contain them.

Clearly, extortion behavior towards students mirrors the wanton corruption practices in public service in the country. Extortion is culturally unacceptable! Academically paradoxical! Psychologically infectious! And socially pornographic therefore students must not be exposed to it!

BY: B.A CEPHAS (Student Vigilante)