VCs threaten to close down schools over utility bills; students petition parliament

Vice Chancellors of tertiary institutions across the country have threatened to close down institutions if government fails to pay arrears of utility bills owed them.

This was revealed in a petition signed by SRC presidents of tertiary institutions including, University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and GIMPA.

The universities earlier warned that failure by Government to settle the debt will leave them no choice than to push the cost to students.

The decision came out of a 25th March 2015 meeting which drew stakeholders in tertiary education to one auditorium at the University of Professional Studies.

Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, during a visit to the Kumasi Polytechnic informed its rector Professor Nsowa Nuamah that students in tertiary institutions across the country would be required to pay for their water and electricity bills in the next academic year.

The new policy had been expected after Ghana Water Company cut water supply to KNUST over a 6 million cedi debt.

Government however made a u-turn and directed tertiary institutions not to charge students the utility fees.

But today, SRC Presidents of various tertiary institutions revisited the issue after Vice Chancellors of various institutions told them that the schools would be closed down if government or students fail to pay utility fees.

According to the Vice Chancellors of Ghana they are overburden by the utility fees after government’s failure to pay the service providers.

The students stormed Parliament today to petition the House on the issue. Although the police did not allow them entry into the building, they gave their petition to the Chairman for select committee on Education.

They stated in their petition that government has shown clear inconsistency in dealing with this matter.

They demanded that

  1. Government must settle all arrears as soon as possible to ensure students are not surcharged.
  2. They demand that cabinet and Minister of Finance to write to ECG and copy the universities instructing them to stop the ongoing disconnection exercise with immediate effect.
  3. No student should be should be made to pay utility bills
  4. And above all they have given government seven days to respond to their demands starting from 3rd November, 2015.

President of the Graduate Students Association of Ghana, Raymond Ayilu told Joy News they will not sit down and allow education to be made a preserve for the affluent in society.

He said the students are already overburdened with accommodation cost, school fees among others, and could not add the cost of utilities.

But Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa told Joy News, government’s position on absorbing the utilities on campuses of public universities has not changed.

He says a meeting would be held to resolve the issue and come out with clear guidelines on the matter.

He therefore urged the students to remain calm.


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