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University of Ghana students demonstrate against increment in user fees

Hundreds of students from the University of Ghana (UG), Legon, on Wednesday hit the streets of Accra to demand a reduction in what they called “high” academic and residential facility user fees.

The students said instead of a 10 per cent increment promised by the University authorities for user facilities, it had rather shot-up between 33 to 54 per cent, which students could not afford.

The current student demonstration took place following a breakdown in negotiations between the various students’ leaderships and the University authorities on the increment.

Before the demonstration, the leadership of the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the University and the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) took turns to address the student gathering at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.

The students, which wore red T-shirts and chanted war songs, carried placards with inscriptions such as: “Education is war in Ghana”, “Government should call V.C to order”, “Inflation is single digit, so school fees must be single”, “No reduction, no vote in 2011”, “Education is a right” and “Aryeetey must go”.

The gathering also saw a heavy Police presence to ensure peaceful protest match.

The demonstration took off exactly 1025 hours smoothly from the Obra Spot at the Nkrumah Circle amidst brass band music through the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue to the Farisco Traffic Light. They further went through Tudu area down to the TUC Traffic Light and to the National Theatre before finally converging at Parliament House.

Ms Irene Sitso Attipoe, the Acting SRC President and other leaders of the demonstrators were met by Mr Gershon Gbediame, Member of Parliament for Nkwanta South and Mr Mathias Pozak, Chairman of the Select Committee on Education.

The petition from the students stated among other things that the government should call on the University authorities to halt the fee implementation process and the deadline for registration, which had been slated for August 5, 2011.

The students urged the Government to declare a national emergency dialogue on sustainable funding of university education in Ghana and the cost imposed on students and parents who were beneficiaries of education.

The petition also called on government to redefine its role in the determination of fees and utilization of funds by the University management.

Mr Gbediame after receiving the petition assured the students of Parliament readiness to urgently act on their concerns.

He said both the Majority and Minority leaders were out of the country on national assignment and would be informed immediately they return from the trip.

From the Parliament House, the demonstrators marched to the Ministry of Education to present a copy of their petition to the sector Minister.

Mr Mahama Ayariga, Deputy Minister of Education in-charge of Tertiary Education met the students to receive their petition.

Mr Ayariga assured them of Government’s commitment to address the issues raised through dialogue.

He urged the students to remain calm whilst government dialogue with stakeholders on the matter.

Mr Hamza Suhini, President of NUGS, however warned that failure by the government to heed to their demands would call for a nationwide strike by all public universities.

Source: GNA

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