Policy-making is considered as a problem of prediction and planning process which pictures the directions of government in solving peculiar challenges that confront the people. In times of national distress, mitigative measures must be broadened and mass inclusive considering the causal effects.
Indeed the effects of the global health pandemic COVID-19 on our dear colleague students can not be overemphasized, the realities of the difficulties the COVID had brought to our colleague students is clear enough for our leaders to propose and implement solutions that can alleviate the uncomfortable consequences, Interestingly, the whole world is suffering from the same situation and so if countries are taking mitigative measures to support their students, Ghana should not be left out,the external validity can be seen in how every economy is working hard to provide some stimulus packages for SMEs and other interest groups.
Few weeks into the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent closure of our schools, we made a clarion call on the vice chancellor of the university of Ghana and extended the same call to all the universities to consider a refund/fees rebate for students in the ensuing academic year. We were clear in our petition that our colleague students were going to be hugely affected by the pandemic and hence the need to include them in our alleviation packages. Most parents lost their jobs and can not afford a daily meal as they used to before the outbreak of the COVID, talk less of affording the expensive school fees for their wards upon resumption of schools, and so just as universities in countries like Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Italy, Australia, Singapore, Russia etc are taking some appreciable school fees cut off for the 2020/2021 academic year, Ghana should be able to do same and perhaps more.
Just like other interested groups who called us for briefing on our position regarding the issue, the NDC equally made that call and we are happy that our request has found grace in the manifesto document of the party as captured on page 74 document reference number 7.2.6 C, that document which is a social contract binding the future NDC government and the people of Ghana has expectedly addressed the desire to absorb 50% school fees for all tertiary institutions in Ghana and this is a huge victory to every Ghanaian tertiary student.
As the lead advocates for this policy proposition, we want to thank the NDC party for demonstrating good sense in keeping the students in their action plans for the administrative circle in the fourth republic.
One would have thought that the ruling party took this bold and significant decision, especially when much resources are allocated to the government both within and outside the country to provide packages such as this to all citizens affected by this global health pandemic. Nevertheless, we take solace in the fact that governance is about priority setting and showing concerns to the very people in whom resides the will, power and aspirations to live in an inclusive society.
In furtherance,, we wish to invite the National Democratic Party to come clear on some modalities regarding the policy decision to absorb 50% school fees in the next academic year, we do not doubt the implementability of the policy because we have no reason to do so, but we believe that there are some basic clarifications when made could give every Ghanaian tertiary student a sense of this policy direction.
Below are some of the clarifications needed:
- Tertiary institutions are likely to reopen before 7th December which is the election year, if that is true, how do we benefit from that policy in time since students would have paid for their fees? Here time is of the essence.
- Considering the payment schedules of most tertiary institutions where some operate with 50-50, 60-40 etc payment plan, how are we going to reconcile the differences in respective institutions so as not to create any unnecessary inconveniences for the smooth academic and administrative year
- Does the absorption of 50% fees include that of residential and academic user fees?
These and other relevant clarifications we think are necessary in fleshing out this policy proposition.
We are looking forward to having further policy conversation with the leadership of the party in order to establish absolute understanding of this all important and monumental decision.
We say God bless you.
Samuel Danquah Amaning
University of Ghana
University of Ghana student