Education has been identified as the key to development. This is a general view shared by many in academia and stakeholders contributing to the education of their wards, community or country. GIMUN has an objective of training young people to take responsibilities in their communities and even at the global level. We therefore want to bring teachers/lecturers, heads of educational institutions, representatives from Ministry of Education and other people whose duties promote quality education in Ghana together with students and their leaders to discuss how peaceful environment could be created for academic activities. We at GIMUN recognize these people as stakeholders who work to ensure our young people acquire the knowledge and skills needed to shape the world. In view of this, GIMUN as part of our activities for 2018 conference will host a summit on the theme ‘Advancing Peaceful Co-existence between Students and Other Stakeholders of Educational Institutions‘. The theme was inspired by the point 9 of UNESCO’s Ten Actions to Stop Violence in Schools. Point 9 admonishes stakeholders to; Learn violence prevention and conflict solution skills and teach them to students.
The summit will strategize and adopt proper measures on how to prevent agitations between students and educational workers. Usually, these acts happen unaware. Furthermore, how to ensure such unaware acts do not escalate into vandalism and loss of properties and extreme cases human lives will be a key focus of the summit.
In particular, riots in schools impede academic works. They stall other activities which can lead to a closure of the school. Schools noted for these barbaric acts often lose quality teachers posted there because they are often reluctant to accept postings there. The tendency for a student living in area notable for social vices such as dealing in elicit drugs, thuggery and gangs to engage in violence is very high, although there is no research to back such claim.
Likewise, the type of administrative structure existing in an institution can also be a cause of violence in the school. Many a times, administration that is seen as authoritarian are often resisted by students. This arises out of the fact that their decisions are seen unpopular among the students because they are neither consulted nor involved in the finalization of such decisions. For example, academic user fees, residential policies and disciplinary measures that students leaders were not involved in its conclusion are a greeted with resistance in the form of demonstrations. With coming into force of student groups such as All African Students Union (AASU), National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), University Students’ Association of Ghana (USAG), Student Representative Councils (SRCs) and others, institutions that the top hierarchy works hand in hand with these student leaders are able to minimize such resistance as they are often regarded as partners rather than opponents.
Students’ resistance to policies or initiatives they see as inimical to quality education is not limited to their institutions. Government’s unfavorable policies has historical antecedent of receiving backlash from students. In 1977, a group of University Students in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Ghana and University of Cape Coast protested against the Acheampong’s UNIGOV. The government however, responded with a police crackdown of the students protest at the University of Ghana which led to death of one student. Many were brutally wounded in addition to the loss of properties. The university had to be closed down to prevent the violence from accelerating. Similarly, in 1999, the government decision to remove boarding and food subsidies was not left unchallenged by students in Ghana. The policy was seen as making the cost of education very unaccessible to the poor. The agitation continued till 2000 where students marched to the Osu castle which was the seat of government then. The positive result was that, government reacted by setting up GETfund as a major source of funding for scholarship and infrastructure support for educational institutions.
Unfortunately, unhealthy rivalry in the claim of supremacy among students themselves have led to several clashes. This is contrary to the ideals that, students should be seen competing ideas in sports, entertainment, quiz and others. Even with the growing levels of rivalries and supremacists, such healthy competitions are abruptly ended. Instances on such rivalries are; in 2008, the Casely Hayford Hall of the University of Cape Coast had to be closed down following a clash betweem their residents and that of a different hall. In KNUST, there has been many incidences of clashes between University Hall and Unity Hall. The rivalry between Mensah Sarbah Hall and Commonwealth Hall is not new to students of University of Ghana. While in UCC clashes between Ogua Hall and Atlantic Hall (ATL) has been in existence for a very long time. These rivalries and clashes have become annual events in our public universities. A recent clash between Unity Hall, Commonwealth Hall and Atlantic Hall in UCC led to loss of properties and left some of the students injured.
Moreover, students’ willingness to go every mile to ensure they get what they deserve to foresee the serene running academic activities has led to some of these clashes. Boa Amposem Senior High School in the Central Region was closed down after the students had embarked on demonstration. The demonstration was sparked by lack of infrastructure as report by Daily Guide on Wednesday, March 17, 2010. The quest for students of Kumbungu Senior High School to seek quality education led to their agitation against the headmaster on 27th April, 2015. They accused him of failing to supervise teachers and bemoaned the lack of infrastructure. From the students’ point of view, these issues have contributed to their poor performance in WASSCE examinations. Kumasi Academy suffered the same fate of students’ agitations on 31st March, 2017. The issue of the mysterious death of students was their reason for demonstrating against the school authorities. Eventually, the school had to be closed temporarily. Students of Ghana School of Surveying and Mapping (GSSM) vented their displeasure on how their school land had been handled by the school authorities. The routine press conferences and demonstrations led to a closure of the school on May 9, 2017 by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
As have been examplified, these violent acts are not limited to the Universities or tertiary levels alone. They cut across all sectors of education. Therefore, there is the need to ensure such occurrences are prevented or carefully minimized to prevent their escalation. Punitive measures such as suspensions and dismissals have mostly been used by administrators of schools against students who engage in any of the above indiscreet acts. Where applicable too, students are made the pay for the cost of damages that arose out of their actions. At times, ring leaders’ residency permits are revoked in tertiary institutions while in high schools, students lose their boarding status. There is the need to access how these measures have worked thus far and further brainstorm new dimensions to curb these violence.
During the Summit, GIMUN will put together two groups comprising of Student Union leaders and Past Executives; and Faculty Advisors. These groups will meet first in a plenary session and then enter into group sessions afterwards to discuss the following topical issues.
- Effective Ways of Involving Students’ Leaders in Decision Making To Avoid Students’ Agitations
- Handling Crisis during Students Protests and Riots
- Handling Students Agitations in Tertiary Institutions
- Effective Representations by Students Unions to Avoid Agitations, Protests and Riots
Dignitaries to address the Summit include; Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh MP, Minister of Education, Hon. Prof. Kwasi Yankah, Minister of State for Education and former Vice Chancellor of Central University; Hon. Barbara Aisha Ayisi, MP, Deputy Minister of Education; Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, MP, Minority Leader of Ghanaian Parliament; Hon. Samuel Okudjzeto Ablakwah, MP, Former Deputy Minister of Education and a Former President of NUGS; Prof. Samuel Kwame Offei, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Ghana; Hon. Alhassan Suhuyini, MP; Mrs. Cecilia Kwakye Cofie, President of Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools; Hon. Maxwell Kofi Jumah, CEO of GIHOC and a former NUGS President; Prof Francis K. E. Nunoo, Dean of Students Affairs, University of Ghana ; Rev. Sister Rose Nsiah, Headmistress, Holy Child School, Cape-Coast; Headmaster, Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School, Legon; Dr. Gifty Afia Oware Aboagye, Deputy Executive Director, Ghana National Service Scheme; Lawyer Egbert Fabille, Former Chief Vandal and a Private Legal Practitioner; Mr. Peter Kodjie (Secretary-General, All African Students Union, AASU) ; Mr. Wonder Madilo, Former President, National Union of Ghana Students; Mrs. Rebbeca Ofosu Gyeabour, a legal practitioner and a former Ag. President of University of Ghana SRC; and the Head Prefects of Bolgatanga Girls Senior High School, Antoa Senior High School and Boa Amponsem Senior High School.