The National Union of Ghana Students always meet at various ?stakeholder meetings, on the various campuses, and other venues to discuss and take a collective decisions on pressing issues confronting the educational sector including Government?s annual budgetary allocations to the sector and other matters of concern.
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NUGS Logo
We do so because we are concerned about what?Government plans to do to enhance the capacity of the economy to create jobs. We do so because we care about how much Government intends to spend on Education. We do so because we are very concerned about how such budgets are going to arrest the myriad of challenges confronting the nation’s education sector and for that matter how annual budgets can help prepare the young generation for the future.
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Indeed, on November 19, 2014, as expected, students across the country listened to the Finance Minister for details on the critical policy initiatives Government was putting?in place for the wellbeing of students and the youth?of our country in 2015.
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OUR COMMENDATIONS
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NUGS wishes to commend the Government for plans
to build more universities, more community day
Senior High Schools, and the plans towards a gradual implementation of free SHS education in Ghana effective 2015 albeit; for day students to start with. We however, have very serious reservations about the mode of implementation of the programme. We hope and pray that these laudable initiatives?indeed come to fruition.
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OUR CONCERNS AND RESERVATIONS
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We have observed that most of the targets set for the education sector in the year 2014 were missed. We see this as a worrying phenomenon that has to be checked moving forward. For instance, not a single one of the ten Colleges of Education promised in the 2013 and 2014 budgets has been built. Surprisingly, this pledge is conspicuously missing in the 2015 budget. Is this a tacit admission that
government has abandoned this very pledge because it’s no longer a priority? We respectfully demand answers to this major question.
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Again, according to the finance minister, “government?has paid feeding subsidy to all public senior high
schools for the 2013/2014 academic year. In 2015,?government will continue to provide subsidy to reduce the burden on parents and students”. However, our independent checks on the ground revealed evidence to the contrary.
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As a matter of fact, feeding subventions have always?been in arrears and in some cases, between three to four terms; a development, which continue to militate?against the attainment of quality education especially in the senior high schools found in the three northern?regions because heads of such schools are unable to feed their students amidst government?s consistent failures to release the feeding grants as expected.
Students end up being sent home because the?schools cannot feed them. We find this as most unpardonable and a breach of the confidence that?the young people of Ghana have reposed in our political authorities.
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All in all, NUGS holds the view that the 2015 budget has a lot to do in terms of tackling the fundamental problems that affect education delivery in the country especially at the basic level. Here, mention can be made of issues regarding the non-payment of capitation grants which has remained in arrears for about four (4) terms, there is also the issue of huge arrears owed caterers employed under the school feeding programme, lack of basic teaching and learning like chalks, textbooks, registers and several
others.
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Second cycle institutions are also not left out in the?problem spree as they also continue to be?overwhelmed by huge infrastructural deficit as well as issues of non-payment of feeding grants by central government. However, we are afraid that the?2015 budget hasn’t given much hope by way of the?required budgetary allocations and other pragmatic steps geared towards the curtailment and reversal of?these worrying trends.
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The story is not any different at the tertiary level of education where the problem of infrastructure deficit
is heavily pronounced especially in ‘infant?institutions’ like the four campuses of the University for Development Studies (UDSs), University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), University of Health and?Allied Sciences (UHAS), as well as the health?institutions and colleges of Education. These?problems are essentially a culmination of?government’s consistent failure or laxity to ensure?timely release of subventions to the institutions; coupled with the ailing state of GETFund as a result of?severe budgetary constraints.
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No wonder if today you visited some of these?institutions, you would only realize that almost all GETFund projects have completely stalled and in some cases, heads of institutions are left with no option but to surcharge their students in order to realize enough funds to complete such projects.
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Unfortunately, the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies that could have offered assistance to some of these institutions in their?respective jurisdictions are also weakened and?incapacitated because the District Assembly?Common Funds which are statutory payments have remained in arrears for almost four (4) quarters as we speak now; yet government seems nonchalant.
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THE EASTERN REGIONAL UNIVERSITY AND RELATED MATTERS
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In as much as we commend government for the initiative of seeking to provide at least one university
in regions that have none, we nonetheless think that the primary focus ought to be on the availability of adequate structures and necessary funds to make the existing ones more functional and effective.
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We think that the establishment of a Public University?should go beyond the laying of a bill in Parliament to we approved into law BUT it should involve deliberate?and rigorous move to put in place the requisite
infrastructure and other facilities to fully feel their?impact and relevance.
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For instance, government established two universities through an act of parliament in the year 2011; namely, the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) and the University of Energy and
Natural Resources (UENR) in the Volta and Brong Ahafo Region respectively.
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As we speak, none of these universities has seen any major facelift three years down the line. They are continually overwhelmed by the enormity of the
infrastructural and financial constraints bedevilling them. Indeed, in the specific case of UENR, the institution was only lucky to have inherited the facilities of the then KNUST Sunyani campus which was symbolically converted to UENR. Nothing significant has happened since.
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Also, the much talked about Volta Regional University (UHAS) is incredibly challenged in terms of infrastructure to the extent that, a cottage built for nurses in the Regional capital is what has been converted to student hostels. How more pathetic could the situation be?
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OTHER CONCERNS OR OBSERVATIONS WE HAVE MADE REGARDING THE BUDGET
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The Government?s own estimated growth rate for
next year is only 3.9%, which is the lowest in 15 years. What this means is that the economy is less likely to create more jobs next year.
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Government’s decision to continue the infamous
policy of putting a moratorium on public sector employment is not only anti-social democratic but will also aggravate the unemployment menace in the country; which remains arguably, our number one threat to national development and security.
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The biggest worry for graduates and students in the final year is unemployment. The future is unfortunately very bleak. Over 50,000 tertiary graduates are churned out every year onto a future of uncertainties. This year about 76000 National Service persons have been deployed to various institutions. Our simple question is where are they going after August next year if none of them can be retained in
the public sector after their National Service
assignment?
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Even as we applaud government’s decision to train 4000 unemployed graduates, we wish to ask that the number should be adjusted upwards because even if that is achieved, it will still be woefully inadequate to cater for the total number of graduates who pass out from University of Ghana Business School alone annually.
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Lastly, where is the YESFund? How much do we have in the fund and who and who have been able to access the fund? The young people of this country are increasingly becoming uncomfortable with the way our governments are taking us for a ride. It is not the way to treat the country?s future leaders. We respectfully demand answers. ?
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CONCLUSION
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A lot of us may be disillusioned because of the aforementioned issues which appear quite gloomy but it is certainly not too late. We wish to express confidence that government has what it takes to address our legitimate concerns through the necessary?pragmatic measures.
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We are not asking for “handouts”. We are only asking for the opportunity to study and to get a job to make
a living for ourselves. This is all that the students and?young people of Ghana expect from our
government. We are obviously not asking for too much and therefore we hope and pray that the government and the relevant authorities would hear our cry and?accordingly come to our aid in order to secure our?future.
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Long live NUGS
Long live Ghana
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Thank you.
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Signed:
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Rhodalyn Eshun
Press and Information Secretary
0246701359
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Prosper Dzitse
President
0546580044/

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