9 November 2018

Ghana: MPs Call for Amicable Solution to KNUST Impasse

MEMBERS of Parliament (MP) with a common voice have called for amicable solution to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) impasse, for academic life to resume.

According to the lawmakers, the stand-off at the KNUST was not in the interest of both students and management of the university, hence the need to reach a common ground to revert to academic activities.

In a statement on behalf of the Alumni of the House on the floor of Parliament in Accra on Wednesday, Ningo-Prampram MP, Sam Nartey George, described the turn of events at the KNUST as unfortunate.

The KNUST was shut down on October 22, 2018, following a violent demonstration by students over alleged maltreatment by school authorities, leading to the destruction of private and public properties, valued at GH¢1.7 million; then the subsequent dissolution of the University Governing Council.

The violent protest was suspected to be the excesses of a decision by the Governing Council to convert two all-male halls of residence, Unity and University Halls into mixed halls.

The university had explained that the decision was to absorb more female students; but the explanation had not gone on well with the Alumni and current students.

Identifying the conversion of the two male halls into mixed halls as the root of developments at the KNUST, Sam George, said the reasons given for the conversion were untenable.

According to Sam George, the solution to the intake of more women, which he said they were not against, was to expand the infrastructural base of the university because the all-male halls play a special role in the ecosystem of the school and "adds to the overall experience that KNUST offers its students."

He called on all stakeholders in the impasse to resort to amicable solution to be reached as the reconstitution of the Council had hit a snag.

The MP for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, said academic freedom was non-negotiable, but if issues which needed intervention came up, government must be supported to act, asking the stakeholders to put the interest of students above their institutional interests.

Condemning he students for the violence at KNUST, Minority Chief Whip and Asawase MP, Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, called on stakeholders to stop arguing their case in the public and get to the negotiation table.

Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said it was not time to apportion blame as to who should be held responsible for the decisions which snowballed into the impasse at the KNUST.

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said if the decision to convert the two halls was allowed to hold, the sequence would be for single sex Senior High Schools to start converting into mix schools.

Describing the protest by the students as regrettable and calling on 'cool heads to prevail' for academic life to return to the KNUST, the Suame MP noted that the conversion was the tipping point of the impasse.


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