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NUGS gives gov’t five-day ultimatum to release student loans; threatens demonstration

The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has given the government a five-day-ultimatum to ensure that loans due students are paid before the examination begins.

According to them, despite their efforts to engage government on the challenges students are facing, including loans, e-learning amongst others, the government has refused to heed to their calls.

They have therefore given government up to June 2, 2020, to come out to address their numerous challenges, stating they will resort to a demonstration at a time of the coronavirus pandemic if the government fails to order for the release of students loans.

Below are the details of NUGS’ submissions:

Following our persistence and engagements with government and its parastatals to intervene in the challenges associated with the e-learning system, we can report that NUGS has finalized a deal with the Student Laon Trust Fund (SLTF) to make available laptops for beneficiaries who sign up for the loan henceforth. Students can now indicate whether or not they wish to acquire a brand new machine as part of their semester loans when they apply. Kindly note it is optional.

As we speak the process has already begun. Ideally, it would take a while to get this running but for the critical times that we are in and the fact that online exams for some of our brothers and sisters begin next week. These gadgets will become useful even after the Covid-19 when ICT would have become a major part of our academic lives. It is worth stressing that the laptop will not come with extra cost, it will be a deduction from the usual GHC2,550 allocation entitled to each student per semester.

For now, the mode of repayment is 2 years after school but NUGS is looking at how to advance another social intervention policy to waiver the cost of the laptop or to further mitigate its mode of payback.

We wish to first thank the government for its intimacy with the student movement and other stakeholders in its fight against the COVID -19. At every point, they invite us to the table to negotiate and to give us a listening ear amid assurances.

GETFund’s GHC1.5b infrastructural support to ease pressure on existing facilities due to the Free SHS policy (FSHS), and to open our enrollment system to even more of our brothers and sisters, is a development NUGS is highly elated about. This comes at a time when many products of the FSHS would have to be accommodated in our universities in the next academic year. As we are aware, GETFund is constructing and expanding dormitories and classroom blocks in our various SHS and tertiary campuses to help ease congestion. It is worth commending.

We wish to remind government a number of the concerns and recommendations we tabled before the president and during our previous pressers, have been met even as the semester is coming to an end.

For the purposes of record and a gentle reminder to the President,

  1. We appealed that students should be included in the disbursement of the Covid-19 National Trust Fund stimulus packages. The president assured us, and we look forward to that.

 

  1. We made calls for the provision of subventions in the form of free bundles especially now that many students across the country are expected to take their end of semester exams.

 

  1. Also of immense priority to us was the call on the state to pay in time the outstanding arrears of loans due students for the first semester and the second semester. Ladies and Gentlemen is it not okay for the government to take us for a ride. We do not take delight in coming here every fortnight to lament and caution when we can equally show gratitude.

However, it is becoming clear that our concerns are not been addressed. As we speak, some 2,000 students under the scheme haven’t been paid the first semester monies they applied for; talkless of the loans for the second semester which hasn’t even been issued. We understand it is difficult in raising all our arrears, especially in these times though it can also be argued that it is not beyond government.

Nevertheless, we have also tried to help the state to still protect our interest through alternative recommendations. In our last stakeholder meeting, we suggested that government should officially communicate with the various universities from which the beneficiaries are, to put in a word in the form of an assurance to pay the arrears of students who risk not taking part in the online exams because of non-payment of their fees. Unfortunately, our leaders have put on deaf ears to this recommendation. Which other way does the state want us to cooperate?

Once again, we remind the Ministry once again, that as discussed, it can submit a compiled list of students under the loan and guarantee for them in order for them to be allowed to write the exams.

Still, on the pending online exams, universities must make a comprehensive plan to ensure that students are not victimized in the event of poor internet connectivity, dumsor, poor reception and other unforeseen circumstances. In fact, we urge all universities organizing online exams to go into negotiations with the telcos to ensure that data consumption, connectivity and the general ICT ecology is conducive for the exams.

It saddens me to observe that, justice hasn’t been served students when it comes to the loan support system with few days to exams. It is not enough to caution yet again. For this reason, we wish to indicate to government and the entire country of our intentions to take to the streets even in these coronavirus times to register our displeasure should the loans due students are not paid before exams begin or no intervention to make our brothers and sisters to write.

We give the government an ultimatum of 5 days to respond to the demands of the student body in relation to paying or intervening for our students on the loan scheme to register and write their exams. Our call is simple, you either give them the loan or you guarantee for them to register and participate.

Five days from now falls on June 2, 2020, a Tuesday and NUGS are by this also calling on all local NUGS Secretariats to begin marshalling our student base to embark on this peaceful demonstration should it fall on the usual deaf ears. Our demonstration will not be a social gathering, it will be a social march, a movement and shall observe social distancing. AGAIN 5 DAYS FROM NOW!

 

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