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Opinions of Monday, 9 September 2019

Columnist: writersghana.com

Napo’s Kumasi letter has problems

Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, MP, aka NAPO – Ghana’s Minister for Education (MOE) has written a letter with reference number SCR/DA 198/470/01 and subject “Reports of tension on the campus of KNUST” dated 5th September, 2019.

It is addressed thus;

The Chairman

University Council

Kumasi

There is no salutation, and no courteous signing off.

Please, surely the Minister at MOE(!) must be careful not to negate the serious work being done by our overstretched and poorly appreciated teachers in instructing their legion of (?double track) students on how to structure a formal letter properly.

The devil is always in the details; at his level, accuracy and precision are non-negotiable.

The content is addressed to the council chairman – we infer from the first paragraph – of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, to warn him against converting a male only hall of residence to a mixed gender hall.

The minister’s letter pleads “peace and a conducive environment” as the sole reason to subtly coerce or strong arm “The chairman” to accept government’s desire to maintain the status quo, and to urgently “review” his decision.

Now then, if “The chairman” takes the letter to Council, and Council rejects the government’s position based on logic and their right to govern the university, what happens next?

Will the chairman together with the council now be threatened or summarily dismissed…..including the Chancellor?

Does this matter also not show that in Ghana it is imprudent to have a personality imbued with traditional, religious and political power, and acknowledged by segments of the citizenry to be beyond reproach as chancellor of a university with the responsibility of managing its “day to day” affairs?

Let us offer some reference points on the way forward for the KNUST University Council on this contentious issue. It should also be useful for other institutions considering such a move.

Why were male and female halls of residence first developed? Have those noble objectives outlived their usefulness?

Is there any new trend that suggests the tradition of categoric male halls – or female only halls for that matter, should be reviewed; any evidence from published research? How have these conversions, if any, been managed?

What has been the results of these conversions?

These questions, must be addressed carefully and comprehensively and the results communicated with clarity to the university community and the general public.

Do we not have faculty at KNUST who can do this properly as an indispensable step towards solving the problem? Is that not part and parcel of what a university should be about – solving problems by efficiently educating the general public with facts, evidence and reason?

Ditto for the education minister and his ministry.

A letter from him which does not educate anybody about what to do is unacceptable.

He must do his job properly– get his staff and hirelings to assist him explain his position in a logical manner and communicate it efficiently and effectively.

Otherwise we should not be surprised if next time for “peace and a conducive environment for learning” the minister will tell us when a university library should close and for how long!

All these public officials who are quick to enjoy the perks of office, some of which is through sleight of hand, should be up and doing.

There will always be problems, such is the lot of man. But we shall not accept from our public officials diktats based on tired cliches and or high handedness nor dysfunctional, thinly disguised political posturing.

And no, they will not get the benefit of the doubt from us on anything; they have not earned it as a result of their chronic under achievement, hierarchical absurdities and poor governance record.

As my mentor has said, “There is NOTHING that was bequeathed to this nation that we have been able to maintain – Not a single one.”

And he has dared anyone to challenge him…….and he is still waiting!

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