PUSAG urges members to withdraw from other student’s unions

The National Executive Council of the Private Universities Students’ Association of Ghana (PUSAG) is urging member institutions to withdraw their allegiance from other student’s unions.

The group in a statement claimed the other unions do not have the interest of private university students at heart.

Below is the full statment
The National Executive Council of the Private Universities Students’ Association of Ghana (PUSAG) is urging member institutions to withdraw their allegiance from other student’s unions. We are making this call because we think these unions do not have the interest of private university students at heart. A withdrawal, we believe, will ease the burden that contributions to various groups like National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), University Students Association of Ghana (USAG) and others place on the Ghanaian student in private universities.

As we all know, most the student blocs were born several years ago at a time when there were no private universities. Since 2002, there has been a surge in the activities of private universities and the trend we are seeing is one in which our interest is not being duly factored into the operations of these blocs. There exists a vast gap between the priorities of private and public tertiary students. Today, there is a lot of talk in the media about high fees at the university level, objection to the payment of utilities by students, demands for streamlining of GETFund money, among others. These are concerns private university students have had since our establishment several years ago. But no one has bothered to join us in the fight until public university student themselves became victims of these government policies.

That is why student unionisation has to be reformed because there are too many problems with the current structure of student blocs. Do we need to have institutions attending NUGS Congress after going for PUSAG, GUPS and USAG congress? What’s the essence of electing leadership that can’t represent a bloc or delegate a rep for the NUGS level? Have we considered the cost involved in paying capitation and transporting delegates with risks attached for congresses? For example, do all Ghanaians go for voting for chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) after everyone exercises the franchise by voting to choose the President of Ghana?

Back to the issue of undue financial burden. A private university has on average 1000 students who are paying annual dues of 50 Cedis each, totalling 50,000Cedis. A school fulfilling its commitment to all blocs end up spending over 15,000 Cedis in paying dues, congress capitation and likely allowances for being off station. This leaves coffers dry with little or nothing to embark on projects or initiatives for students. There are even instances when some schools struggle to raise funds to print exercise books and provide other stationery for students after spending much needed money on these congresses.

How do students benefit from all these monies paid, aside through “aluta” remedies to problems students have with government? What is the relationship and coordination amongst all these blocs? Why should there be a situation where one over-rides the other? Are we happy with a situation where a bloc claims to fight for the interest of students but actually know nothing about their needs? Who is answerable to who and why?

We are in a country where student activism is seen to be a competition amongst leaders who use the opportunity to build their political careers. This pursuit leads student activism away from being considered as an avenue to champion interests of our populace. Truth be told, the kind of student activism that we saw the 1990s clearly do not exist now in 2015, which is how come no impact is being made.

NEC of PUSAG believes these numerous students blocs have lost their relevance by focusing on their niche interests. It’s apparent that most recognised blocs that are branded to cater for tertiary level students are prejudiced and seem to be paying more attention to government or public universities rather than fight the cause of all including private universities students. This is good, but it’s more prudent for such blocs to restructure their annals to suit their purpose.

The call for this withdrawal is crucial because its time unions and associations undergo metamorphosis to stay in existence and be relevance to all. This is the time student leaders have to take bold decisions and not be anxious about doing the right thing for the common good. Student blocs need complete overhauling now before it gets to a state where we have to result to changing developmental threads in the unions’ fabrics.

We want to put on record that the NEC of PUSAG is vehement committed to tackling all issues surrounding students and the youth more especially in educational matters. This explains our continuous fight for the demand initiated by previous administrations for the government to expand GETFUND Support to all Private Universities Students, award autonomy or Charter status to reduce hiking fees due to slap of affiliation fees and review the 25 percent Corporate Tax charged on universities.

As servant leaders of primarily Private Universities Students, we strenuously believe that the average student who isn’t already concerned about the Student Representative Council (SRC) of his or her institution wouldn’t be excited if a fraction of their dues are used to pay membership dues to several mother unions.

Ghana’s Constitution promotes freedom of association. So the final decision lies in the bosom of students leaders with various private universities. We will however urge all to support this agenda we are pushing in the interest of all students. We might not be perfect but PUSAG strives to use excellence as its benchmark. NEC wants all member institutions to remain loyal to PUSAG so that as we defend them at all levels, and so we can be held accountable by them at all times. We believe that if we are able to fix all internal mechanisms then we are on the path to formidable blocs that can undoubtedly cause the needed revolution on the student’s front.

Long Live Students’ Struggle
Long Live PUSAG
Long Live Ghana
President of Private University Students Association

Richard Odame

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