August 8, 2013

Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a Deputy Minister of Education, has urged leaders of students’ unions to ensure peace on their campuses during and after the Supreme Court verdict on the Election 2012 petition.

He appealed to active political groupings on campuses not to allow themselves to be swayed by any politician or political party after the Supreme Court verdict to cause mayhem and destruction.

“Whichever way the verdict goes, we are using this opportunity to appeal to you to ensure that the campuses are not destabilize and that the conduct of students is most descent and peaceful,” he added.

Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa said this at a meeting the Ministry had with leaders of students’ unions from both public and private tertiary institutions in Accra.

He appealed to the student leaders not to lend themselves to any political party to mobilize students for any public manifestation.

The meeting, the first, was to create a platform for engagement with students’ leaders to find out their needs and how they could come together as partners to solve the various problems in the education sector.

The Deputy Minister urged the leaders to be of best behavior and to serve as role models for others to follow as the student body would look upon them after the judgment.

“Put up your best attitude on campuses to ensure that there is peace for you to complete your education,” he added.

Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa said as a Ministry they thought that the era where few students’ unions got the opportunity to interact with government officials were a thing of the past.

He expressed the hope that the meeting would be an annual affair to create the platform for productive interactions with unions of tertiary institutions.

“We hope to institutionalize the engagement to enable you to interact with officials from the Ministry and other educational stakeholders at the beginning of every semester as a means of finding lasting solutions to major problems facing students on their various campuses,” he said.

He said “As a government we see students’ leaders as partners to move Ghana’s education forward and we want to collaborate with you for your corporation in addressing your concerns on your various campuses.

“As a former students’ leader, I’m privy to the frustrations and challenges of students and I pledge my commitment to be a willing students’ Ambassador to ensure that your concerns are addressed,” he said.

On the current UTAG strike, Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa said the first cheques for the premium had already been disbursed and negotiations on books and research allowances were on-going with Fair Wages Commission and until the negotiation had been concluded, government would not know how much to pay them.

“Negotiations have to be concluded and agreements reached on what to pay before government can come in,” he said and appealed to the striking lecturers to call-off the strike in order not to destabilize the 2014 academic year.

The students’ leaders appealed to government to provide the various campuses with infrastructure to make learning and teaching less stressful.

They also appealed to the government to intervene with Universities’ Authorities to review their school fees downwards to lift the burden on both students and parents.