If by now you do not know what has been happening in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (mostly known as KNUST) you must be living in a hole. The university has been in the limelight since the demonstrations that took place in the institution on Monday the 22nd of October. This resulted in the immediate closure of the school. After some time of trying to resolve some of the issues that caused the KNUST chaos and other issues that came after the chaos, the school is ready to reopen. This may seem as good news and indeed it is. However, before we can start celebrating, we should be asking ourselves serious questions like, is the KNUST chaos really over? Are we going to see more of the KNUST saga or has everything been sorted?
It is hard to say if there is going to be more conflict or not. It also hard to know if all the issues have been resolved. This is because the issues underlying this situation were not mere small issues. The issues that made the students strike are not be taken lightly and if they were not resolved or are not resolved soon we might be in store for even more KNUST chaos.
KNUST latest news
I know thi the headlines that most people woke up to on the 23rd of October. 23rd October is the day just after the strike. Students were given up to 12 p.m to have evacuated the premises. Only international students were allowed to remain in the school compound. What then led to KNUST being closed?plus a few new members appointed by the government.
During an event that was chaired by the Minister for Education, the six new members of the council were sworn in. The governing council is usually made up of fifteen members. The other nine members were not sworn in as they were already members of the previous council. The Minister went on ahead to advise them to handle the situation to between them and the students with haste and students to return to school as soon as the next day.
It was decided that the students would return to school on Friday the 16th of November where serious education would officially kick-off on Monday. With that said and done, is the chaos in KNUST over?
Is KNUST chaos over?
It is hard to clearly say if the chaos in KNUST is over or not. This is because there are signs of the chaos being over and other signs that the chaos might not be over.
Reasons why KNUST chaos might be over
1. New people in the governing council. The chaos in KNUST might just be over due to the introduction of new people to the governing council. This may be due to the fact that the new people might come up with innovative ideas to bring cohesion between the student population and the administration.
2. The agreement between the government and TEWU and UTAG. Since an agreement was reached it means all the three parties are contended hence no chaos is likely to result from the governing council of the institution.
3. Time for people to blow steam off. There has been ample time ever since the strike. This is enough time for the students and the administration to relax. This means there is likely not to be any tension once the school reopens on the 16th of November.
4. Dialogue. The most effective method to ensure that there is no chaos is to hold an open session between the parties involved. These are the students, the administration and the security personnel. All parties should be listened to and an amicable solution should be reached.
Reasons why the KNUST chaos might not be over
1. Same people in the governing council. Although there has been an introduction of new people into the governing council, of which I highlighted might bring positive effects, the presence of members from the old council might bring negative outcomes if they don’t check themselves. In that council, there are people who lost their property, are they just going to let that go just like that?
2. Chaos might also not be over because they have not resolved the main issues that caused the problems to begin with. What have they done about the security guards? What have they done about the lecturers who cane students? Have they put up avenues for the students and the administration to interact? If the main issues are not resolved quickly then it is still too early to celebrate.
3. Asking students to pay for the damages caused. I know this is the right thing for them to do after the destruction that was caused but are the students seeing it with the same eye? This might bring back chaos as the students as highlighted earlier don’t believe they are to blame
4. Prosecuting the Student Representative Council. Another thing that might cause chaos is punishing the student council. The student council has so much influence. If they influenced students last time, what makes you think they can’t influence them again?
5. Blaming one party for that happened. If one party either the administration, security personnel or the student population is held accountable for all that happened then there might be chaos still coming our way.
KNUST has been trending in all sectors ever since it was closed down. The demonstrations were not only destructive but also brought with them new issues. These news issues could not have been seen or could not have erupted were it not for the demonstration. I guess it is true that problems beget even more problems. Before we go so far and forget what caused all this, I would like to highlight reasons that led to KNUST being closed and then I will take you through the events that took place after the closure of the institution.
KNUST closed down
I kn was ow this the headline that most people woke up to on the 23rd of October. 23rd October is the day just after the strike. Students were given up to 12 p.m to have evacuated the premises. Only international students were allowed to remain in the school compound. What then led to KNUST being closed?
The closure of this learning institution was brought about by the demonstrations that had taken place the previous day. What was meant to be a peaceful demonstration turned haywire very quickly. This whole issue started when Katanga hall which has always been a male hall was turned to a mixed hall. One alumni of this hall together with some students were opposed to this. Thus violence broke on Friday when security guards confronted ten students and one alumni for holding illegal morales in the school. The security guards termed their social activity as violent and went to put an end to it. In the fracas, the security guards used so much force that one of the students had to be hospitalized in KNUST hospital. The security guards said the illegal social activity was bringing chaos and it was disrupting the peace of the university. The security guards also said that the group had not asked for permission to hold such an activity.
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It was as if this was adding salt to an injury or scratching an itch, it only gets worse. On Monday morning, the Students Representative Council relayed a message to the entire student population telling them to leave their lecture halls and meet for a peaceful demonstration as they were not going to take what happened to their fellow comrades sitting down. The vice chancellor got to hear of this and urged the students not to take part in the boycott and continue with their school activities as they would on any normal Monday. This, however, fell on deaf ears as students went out to hold what was to be a “peaceful” demonstration. After the event, the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak said that the SRC should be held responsible because they are the ones that mobilized people for the protest, and so they should have known that the demonstration will turn violent when they saw students with sticks and clubs. This utterly explains how the peaceful demonstration turned chaotic.
After the turn of events, one of the SRC members said that the student population is not to be blamed for how things escalated. He said that the administration is to be blamed on how things turned out. He said, “We put out a message for a peaceful march. What ensued was obviously unforeseen. We were going to present a petition and when things escalated there was no one from administration to present it to. Even though we regret what happened, things escalated because of tension in the school.”
The demonstration led to the destruction of public and private properties. The demonstration led to a lot of destruction and injuries. About forty cars and a number of motorbikes belonging to the teaching staff and the non-teaching staff were destroyed. The administration block was also not spared as its windows were broken. The car and office of the vice chancellor were destroyed. Students, people of the public and the police officers all got injuries from the demonstrations. About twenty students were arrested on that day but they were cautioned and granted bail on the same day, said the officer in charge.
Although it may seem like the conflict that occurred on Friday could have been the cause of the demonstration, it was entirely not to blame as they were other issues that are said to have caused the demonstration. They include:
- Students being caned by lecturers. Yes, you heard it right. After the demonstrations, there was a video of a lecturer caning students in a lecture room going around.
- Abuse and harassment of the student population by the university security
- Abuse of power by university security
- Preventing the students to take part in some social activities
- The administration dictating and imposing their decisions on the students
READ ALSO: Is KNUST closed down?
After the chaos that had taken place on the 22nd of October, the government decided to dissolve the existing governing council and establish a new one. This is because the government blamed the existing governing council of the university for what had happened. The government was going to establish a new council where the would be very few or no members from the old council.
You can already see chaos on the way. University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Tertiary Education Workers Union (TEWU) were not going to take this sitting down. They opposed the notion of the government to create a new interim council without them having representatives from their associations. This then triggered a strike action from the two and the government decided to add the two to the newly formed interim council. Thinking that this had resolved the issue, UTAG from KNUST and TEWU from KNUST came back and said that the government had no power to resolve the previous council as they had done.
The Chancellor of the university then gave an order for the formation of a new council which was going to be constituted of the old members. It was reported that the Chancellor did not recognize the interim council and so the council to take charge was to be inaugurated on Friday, November 2nd. The inauguration was supposed to take place on the proposed day and the institution was supposed to reopen on the 8th of November.
However, when it came to the inauguration day, the inauguration did not take place as the government was expected to submit its appointees to make the council complete but they did not submit their appointees.
This section is entirely important as this as the means that KNUST is going to communicate the relevant information to the parties involved about the way forward.
The KNUST official website will, however, be very useful for sending general information to the parties involved. The KNUST portal, especially the students portal can be used to send specific information to specific people. The KNUST official website and the KNUST portal are highlighted below incase you want to get in touch with KNUST.
KNUST website: www.knust.edu.gh
KNUST portal: apps.knust.edu.gh
I hope this article has been able to highlight and show reasons why the KNUST chaos might be over or not. The KNUST saga has not lacked its fair share of drama and I hope all will be well soon. Share with us what you think about the KNUST chaos. Do you think it's over? Do you have another view of the matter? Let's meet in the comments section.
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