The recent KNUST demonstration has made it to the latest news in Ghana with many wondering what could have been the cause of the rampage by students. Many have tried to give explanations as to what may have triggered what was once a peaceful procession to a violent aftermath. It appears as though there was some level of misunderstanding concerning the demonstrations to begin with.
At first, the students planned to protest against oppression caused by the school authorities, especially the security department. On the planned Friday of the peaceful demonstration, the school’s security thwarted the procession because it was not favoured by the management. This led to a number of causalities as the students responded to the interference by the school campus security. They went on rampage and vandalized property including those that belonged to students and the administration. The school’s administration block was hard hit.
KNUST demonstration 2018
According to the Ministry of Education communication director concerning the KNUST demonstration update, the students at the university did not demonstrate for the reasons behind what most people assume. A good number of Ghanaian citizens believe that the students rioted because of the conversion of the Unity and Katanga halls into mixed halls from single sex halls. The director, Ekow Vincent Assafuah, shed some light on the entire issue. Contrary to the speculations going around in the country about the recent incident, the students were agitated and responded in kind when they discovered that some of their mates were taken behind bars yet they were demonstrating peacefully.
It is rather unfortunate that despite government’s intervention to sort the issues between the school’s management and the students quietly, there was unnecessary use of force. This prompted the students to react violently even though that was not the intention to begin with.
It has been said that 11 students, among them an alumnus of the school, were arrested and put behind bars at the KNUST police station. They had been beaten and tortured by the school security team before being finally taken to the police with accusations of holding a night vigil without permission. This attracted the intervention of a few parents who stormed the police station demanding for their children’s release. This was a serious concern for the students because in about a month or so back, students were also arrested for holding a vigil on campus.
The SRC then organized demonstration using slogans such as ‘Action now, enough is enough’ to protest against the brutal treatment of students in campus. The plan also include boycotting classes in order to catch the attention of higher authorities than the KNUST VC. Some of the placards held by the students seemed to express anger towards the KNUST council and the VC especially. The original intention of these demonstrations was to attract the attention of the Chancellor, minister of education and government at large. It is unfortunate that things turned out differently in the long run with damages being incurred.
KNUST demonstration today
In an interview with UTV’s ‘Adekye Nsroma’ show, the director further said that the Student Representative Council [SRC] would take responsibility for the damage cause as long as there was proper assessment for the same. It seems like the SRC president and his team acknowledged that the students were on the wrong. There are better ways of expressing dissatisfaction with the School’s authorities and better, nonviolent channels to be followed.
In response to this, the chancellor of the school, His Royal Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II went to carry out appropriate assessment of damages caused when students went on rampage causing damage to school property. He was in the company of a few Kumasi chiefs and some of the vice chancellors members. His first stop of assessment was the administration block which was then followed by the transport area. After investigations, it was estimated that the damages caused by the KNUST students’ riot amounted to GHC 1.7 million. According to KNUST demonstration video that are trending the internet, the students were really agitated as many seemed not to think about the actions they took as they vandalized property.
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Clearly, the KNUST demonstration had a lot of hidden information that was not being released in the latest news hence the confusion that citizens of Ghana had. While the conversion of single sex hostels into unisex ones is an issue that received a lot of mixed reactions, with a good number of students against it, the demonstrations in the school were totally inspired by something else. The students were tired of being victimized and brutalized by security personnel in campus and that was where their focus had been before things turned haywire.