Update on KNUST impasse: New Governing Council to be reconstituted *Varsity re-opens Nov 8 *UTAG suspends strike

Eric Opoku Mensa UTAG President

Eric Opoku Mensa UTAG President

The Kwame Nkrumah of Science and Technology (KNUST) is to be re-opened on November 8 following a meeting between government, University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and all other relevant stakeholders.

 

A new Governing Council was also to be reconstituted by Friday, November 2, to take over the management of the University from the Interim Council set-up by government after it dissolved the previous Governing Council on October 25.

 

Chancellor of the KNUST, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, would lead the process to reconstitute the University’s Governing Council in accordance with the University’s statute and relevant laws following a widespread rejection of an interim council announced by the government.

 

A statement signed and issued by the Minister of Information-Designate, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah in Accra yesterday said following an engagement with UTAG, the Association has also undertaken to restore services, cooperate in resolution efforts and encourage other stakeholders to join resolution efforts.

 

Dr Eric Opoku Mensah, National President of UTAG, in an interview said the Association was happy that the Vice Chancellor of KNUST, Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, would not step aside as directed by the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) yesterday.

As part of the reconstitution of the new Governing Council of the University, he said all unions with representation including UTAG, Teacher and Education Workers Union (TEWU) and Ghana Association of University Administrators (GAUA) would submit their representative by Wednesday, October 31 while government could also appoint its representatives.

The Association, Dr Mensah said, was committed to supporting all efforts to restore normalcy at KNUST for the school to reopen for academic work to continue.

The government set up a seven-member Interim Council to manage the KNUST following its decision to dissolve the school’s Governing Council.

In response to government’s decision, the KNUST branch of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) announced an indefinite strike to back their demands for the restoration of the Council.

According to the President of the KNUST branch of UTAG, Professor Eric Kwabena Fokuo, the Association would not recognise the Interim Council and accused government for acting on one-sided information from the Students Representative Council (SRC).

The University Students Association of Ghana (USAG), in a press conference in Accra yesterday, accused the KNUST branch of UTAG of “turning a deaf, dumb and blind eye when students of the University consistently complained bitterly about the brutality and inhuman treatments by security personnel.”

The group said UTAG was serving the interest of an individual with its strike action, all in the name of loyalty and solidarity for a certain union.

In a related development, the KNUST branch of the Ghana Association of University Administrators (GAUA) also withdrew their services until the restoration of the KNUST Council.

Similarly, the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) of the University condemned the government’s decision, describing it as a “coup d’état.”

Members of TEWU at KNUST Campus in Kumasi yesterday hit the streets in protest of government’s decision and called for it reversal.

 

The demonstrators held placards with messages including, “Stop these political tricks,” “No IMC in KNUST,” and “No government interference,” among others.

 

Mr Mark Dankyira Korankye, Deputy General Secretary of TEWU, in a statement questioned the constitutionality of the Interim Council, describing it as a “rushed decision.”

 

He said the government could have ordered the previous Governing Council to come out with a roadmap to resolving the impasse or investigate the matter and demand a report through the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education.

Despite the concerns of the students which culminated in the protest to register their displeasure, he condemned the destruction of properties and called for payment of compensation to members who lost their properties during the riots.

 

Earlier, the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) had directed the Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso to step aside to allow the Interim Council set up by government to conduct investigations into happenings at the University without hindrance.

A letter signed in Accra yesterday by Professor Mohammed Salifu, Executive Secretary of NCTE to the VC further asked the Vice Chancellor to hand over the day-to-day administration of the University to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor.

It will be recalled that on Monday, October 22, the students of KNUST, led by its leaders embarked on a protest at the Kumasi Campus to petition the University authorities of what they described as “high handedness” in dealings with the students.

The peaceful protests turned ugly when some angry students resorted to vandalising vehicles and other University facilities including the Administration Block.

Upon advice of the Regional Security Council, the university was subsequently shut down indefinitely and students directed to vacate the premises by 12 noon on Tuesday, October 23 following a dusk to dawn curfew.

 By Times Reporter

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