DIALOGUE, NOT THREATS!

IT is a widely accepted position that threats, intimidation and confrontation have not worked in the past and will not work in resolving issues.

The watchword is ‘constructive dialogue’, understanding and co-operation and not threats and issuing of conditions.

Students of tertiary institutions in the country have within the last few days, been up in arms with the government over its intended plan for students in public tertiary institutions to pay utility bills as a means of settling debts owed the service providers.

Not only have the students kicked against the proposal, but also gone further to issue a 48-hour ultimatum to the government to withdraw it or be ready to face a string of demonstrations next week.

The leadership of the students, according to a statement issued in Kumasi yesterday, accused the government of reneging on its responsibility and trying to pass on utility bills to students.

They argued that when that happens, the cost of education, especially fees being paid by tertiary students for the next academic year, would increase approximately by GH¢550, which they claimed would force many of them out of school.

The Times sympathises with the students concerning the burden they are expected to shoulder through the payment of the utility bills.

We, however, disagree with the approach and the actions they intend to take if government fails to reverse the decision.

It is our opinion that the students are jumping the gun by issuing threats, since they have admitted that a stakeholders’ consultative meeting was held on March 25 at which the proposal was discussed.

And as explained by government officials, the decision remains a proposal and has not received government’s approval.

Unless the government communicators are not being forthright with the truth, we are yet to hear a definite decision from government to pass on the payment of electricity bills to students.

That is why we think that the students should exercise maximum restraint and stop issuing threats of strike.

The use of utilities in all the tertiary institution at all cost must be paid for. Someone must bear the huge cost and, for that matter, dialogue is the only solution.

If the government is unable to pay for the utilities, and services are curtailed, it is the students who will suffer in the long run.

Confrontation and threats would not solve the problem. The government and the students should, therefore, sit down and negotiate, since the threats would not work.

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