Students Unions In Ghana sign joint petition to Prez Akufo-Addo

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We write unanimously as student Unions in Ghana, to petition your very high office on a decision taken by your government, specifically the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Hon. John Peter Amewu, to bring the operation of Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping (GSSM) to an indefinite closure.

The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), University Students’ Association of Ghana (USAG), Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASAG), Ghana Union of Professional Students (GUPS), and Ghana National Union of Technical Students (GNUTS), are by this letter with all urgency, petitioning your very high office to rescind from such a decision that will affect negatively, the good people of the Republic of Ghana, Students and the surveying profession at large. Below are some of our reasons:

• It has been constitutionally provided in unequivocal terms in Article 25(1) of the 1992 constitution, that; “All persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realisation of that right’’. Many students were enjoying this fundamental human right, some were writing exams, whereas others are supposed to graduate by ending of May, 2017. It came as a surprise that their rights, as enshrined in the constitution of the Republic of Ghana, is truncated by a government which tagged Education as critical in the building of Cohesive and prosperous country.

• It has been captured clearly as part of your campaign promises, that education in Ghana will be significantly expanded to meet the long term goals and needs of Ghanaians. Please permit us to reiterate a manifesto promise, and we quote, “We aim to shift the structure and content of our education system from merely passing examinations to building character, nurturing values, and raising literate, confident, and engage citizens who can think critically…. that all the hopes of Ghanaians for a bright future will come to naught, unless the country is able to resolve its education crises”.

On the contrary, Your Excellency, your government in less than five months is making a “U-turn” on your own promise. We however, find it difficult to believe why any government will close down a school which is the sole backbone of the country’s surveying needs, since 1919 for the development of a shopping mall by a Private Investor who bought the land. Your Excellency, you made this known on Sunday, 14th May, 2017, when you addressed students of the Ho Technical University, at its auditorium, at the climax of your 2-day visit to the Volta Region.

Your Excellency, you reiterated the commitment of your government towards the prioritisation of technical education and the skills development of students in the country’s Senior High Schools and Tertiary Institutions, as they hold the key to the country’s industrial development.

Your Excellency, you made this statement clear and we quote, “if the ambitions we have for this country are going to come into fruition, a great deal of it depends on what is going to happen in places like this. You are going to be at the centre of the industrial revolution of our country. That revolution needs to happen now if Ghana is going to make progress”. Your Excellency, you also noted that “all those countries in the world that used to be like us, but are now at places of prosperity and development, became so because they paid a great deal of attention and committed a lot of resources to the development of their educational system, especially the development of their technical and scientific education”, and the Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping is no exception. Your Excellency, the Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping is a technical and a specialized tertiary Institution, that needs the attention it deserves so as to attain the Specialised University status, to enable it train more skilled Professionals to increase the country’s human capital resource base.

However Your Excellency, it was so strange upon hearing your government is on the contrary, denying the Students of the Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping, their educational rights, by closing the Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping down, inspite of all the promises you keep making to the youth and Ghanaians at large.

• The closure of such institution will certainly serve as precedence for subsequent governments to close down any educational institution of their choice. For instance, we may wake up one day to find out that Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has been bought by a private person for the purpose of developing a Zoo, or University of Ghana- Legon to be used for a football stadium because of its location, or Accra Technical University be used to develop railway station. Your Excellency, Martin Luther King opined; “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly’’.

• The National Geodetic Reference Network (GRN), a system that runs a twenty-four hours, seven days (24/7) Continues Operating Reference System (CORS) constructed on the 1919 Guggisberg monument serves as the base of coordinated survey reference station which forms part of the National Triangulated Network System in the country. When this is destroyed, survey work in Accra will be seriously challenged.

• The Ghana School of Surveying and mapping trains Professionals in the field of survey who end up in the energy sector, water and sewerage services as well as Town and Country Planning Departments, which aid residential subdivisions, and forms part of the foundation of the country’s infrastructural development. A strong basic infrastructure facilitates other progress for the nation and contributes to the socio-economic development of the country.

• The nonexistence of the Survey School will negatively affect the proper geographical planning of the country. This is as a result of the fact that, in the absence of the Survey School which trains the middle level manpower Surveying Technicians, to feed the Surveying and Mapping Division of the Lands Commission, which is the sole government agency responsible for geographical data, that other agencies such as Ghana Highways Authority, Ghana Armed Forces, Forestry Commission, Mineral Commission, Cocoa Board, GRIDCO, ECG, Ghana Gas etc. depend on.

• The Survey School is the only surviving School in West Africa and TWO of its kind in the whole of Africa. As it stands, other neighbouring countries such as Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Benin, Togo etc. rely on Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping to train their Nationals. Currently, the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire serves as precedence for Ghana to train more surveyors in the system to protect our geographical boundaries. At present, the Ghana team of surveyors in charge of the maritime dispute are mostly products of Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping (GSSM).
• The Survey School feeds a percentage of the working staff of all the land sector agencies in the country (private and government sectors).

• The school produces well renowned survey entrepreneurs in the private sector, who have contributed towards the reduction of the level of unemployment by employing the young trained surveyors. A significant number of products from Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping (GSSM) have set up survey firms that employ most youth.

• The school trains some of the working force of the military and security agencies for Military intelligence.

• The closure of the school will affect major industry players such as the Banks, Telecommunication Networks, Real Estate, Ghana Highway Authority, Lands Commission, Mineral Commission, Ghana Water and Sewerage Company Limited, Forestry Commission, Cocoa Board etc.

• The school serves as Guggisberg’s monument and was not established to occupy office building, but well-structured and resourced classrooms, computer laboratory and a library since 1919. The school land had a Certificate of allocation in the name of the then Director of Surveys on 10th August, 1959 from Hausa Reserve. As a result, the portion where the Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping is currently sited, was allocated by the then Director of Surveys.

The new Lands Commission merger which did not factor the school in its structure has left the School hanging without the attention it deserves since the merger of the Survey Department, Land Valuation Board, Land Registration Department, and the Old Lands Commission into the New Lands Commission, regulated by Lands Commission Act 2008 (Act 767).

Resolution
From the above, we the Students Unions have resolved that, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo uses his very high office, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to;

• Rescind the decision on the indefinite closure of the Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping, and call the Students back to the classrooms.

• Incorporate the school to the Ministry of Education, as in the case of Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) and National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI).

• Consider and secure using your very high office, the parcel of land adjacent the BNI, as the permanent site with Title Certificate, registered in the name of the Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping, to allow more room for its growth. This is in reference to a letter dated 4th July, 2011, with reference number DB-95/110/04 from the then Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines, to the Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission.

Your Excellency, an attack on Education is an attack on democracy and civilisation, it is an attack on the fundamental human rights of citizens, their right to education as enshrined in Article 25(1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. Your Excellency, the right to education should not and cannot be relegated for the development of any facility, least of all a shopping mall by a Private Investor. Closing down Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping (GSSM) will only send strong signals that the current Government is anti-Education.

Your Excellency, we have strong confidence in your leadership and Government, we believe you to be the beacon of hope and the doyen of law for Ghana and Africa. We pray that your very high office look into this matter to remedy the injustice.
Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

Signed

Bismark Gyamfi
National President
Ghana Union of Professional Students
0248779892

Emmanuel Kwarteng Frimpong
National President
University Students Association of Ghana
0244694818

Maxwell Sakyi Dampare
Steering Committee Chairman
National Union of Ghana Students
0246529094

Rashid Kwesi Etuaful
National President
Graduate Students Association of Ghana
0233234586

Wisdom Addo
National President
Ghana National Union of Technical Students 0547566719

By Sammy Adjei / Newsghana.com.gh

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