Following the violent demonstration that occurred on the campus of the University of Education, Winneba, yesterday, the authorities have closed down the teacher training institution indefinitely. Reports indicate that police had to use tear gas to disperse the very agitated students, who were determined to cause mayhem, following the sacking of three of their lecturers by the Professor Aful Broni-led administration.
This is the second time in six months that a public university has been closed down. In October 2018, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) was also closed down by the Ashanti Regional Security Council, following a violent protest that led to the destruction properties on campus. The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, had to come in before the issue was resolved and the school re-opened for academic work.
The bad publicity KNUST received as a result of that unfortunate incident on campus should have served as food for thought for the remaining state-owned universities, but it appears no lessons were learnt. Unconfirmed reports indicate that as many as 30 workers, which includes lecturers, have been sacked by the current administration, headed by Professor Aful Broni, who took over the reins of the university just last year.
The Chronicle is neither condemning nor supporting the sacking of the lecturers and other junior staff, especially when it seems to have the backing of the University Council. Nevertheless, common sense should have taught Prof Aful Broni’s administration that in sacking such a huge number of staff, almost at the same time, the ramifications will be dire.
Whether we like it or not, our educational sector is flourishing – the reason why thousands of students from the West Africa sub-region have to come to Ghana to pursue their tertiary education. Nigeria is the biggest economy in the whole of Africa, yet it has thousands of its students pursuing various degree courses in our universities.
As a matter of fact, but for the influx of these foreign students, most of our private universities wouldn’t have survived. After all, the public universities have taken their students, while the qualified students left for these private universities to absorb is nothing to write home about. But because of the foreign students, they are still in business – which is also generating employment for Ghanaians.
Apart from this, these foreign students also bring thousands of dollars, if not millions, to spend in our economy during the period of their education in the country. This means Ghana is benefiting tremendously from the transformation of the education sector. This is the reason why we are worried over the destabilisation of our tertiary education through actions or inactions of leaders manning these institutions.
If our universities are seen as being in turmoil, no parent would risk sending his or her ward to pursue tertiary education in the country. The Chronicle is, therefore, appealing to the government to conduct an in-depth investigation into the UEW incident, and punish those who would be found culpable for attempting to tarnish the image of education both locally and internationally.
It is impossible to eliminate completely the issue of violence in any tertiary institution, but the rate at which it occurs should be of concern to those charged to manage the sector. Last year, it was KNUST, and today, we are talking about UEW. The next time, it could be Legon or Cape Coast or any of the public universities, and this is the reason why the authorities must sit up and nip the emerging trend in the bud before it escalates into something else.