The recent fee increment wave blowing across various tertiary institutions has affected schools like the Ghana Institute of Journalism, University of Ghana and the University of Professional Studies Accra (UPSA).
The issue of fees reduction has been raised by students and other shareholders of these institutions on their personal social media platforms and through petitions to the SRC but these have been met with silence and nonchalant responses.
Covid-19 came with an effect which transcended all the facets of life, economically, emotionally, socially, educationally, psychologically just to mention but a few.
The intensity of the global pandemic has plunged some countries into economic recession, as some continue to fight the battle to curb and hopefully eradicate the virus completely.
Ghana and few other countries have thankfully recorded lower deaths and active number of Coronavirus cases.
Notwithstanding, Mr President, we all know Ghana suffered the blunt impact of economic backslides which left other social systems affected as well.
According to a report by Ghana Statistical Service on MyJoyOnline suggested that about 115,000 businesses have closed down temporally or permanently due to the gruesome impact of the Corona pandemic. This was accompanied by 45,000 workers losing their jobs during the partial lockdown.
So, more than half a million workers had their wages reduced.
This is a result of government’s closure of borders and nationwide lockdowns in a reasonable quest to reduce the spread of the virus. However, the adverse retrogressive impact on citizens’ social life and the backache it left on various sectors cannot be overlooked
During this period, individuals were rendered jobless while some companies slashed down the salaries of their workers. This in turn led to decreased productivity, lower profit returns, high cost of maintaining companies due to the quick switch to digital innovations and platforms to adapt to the new era the Covid-19 brought along.
While all these took place, educational institutions were ushered into the phase of virtual learning to avoid physical contact and minimise the spread of the disease.
All tertiary institutions were temporarily shutdown causing students to leave for their various homes to continue the next section of the academic calendar online.
This actually caused the psychological break down of some students during the adjustment phase of catching up with things taught virtually.
In the Ghana Institute of Journalism, students were made to write the end of semester examinations online – something most schools did.
A major struggle this development brought is persistent poor internet connection, which led to numerous complaints from students who had a difficulty with submitting their examinations
The post-exams effect came with some students having to resend their works again or to rewrite the paper again in instances where their work wasn’t available online. These are a few of the emotional toll the period of the Covid has had on the students.
As you read this, the current burden that hangs on the neck of the students and their guardian is the 5% increment of school fees by the Ghana Institute of Journalism. The previous bill for each semester was ₵2400 in addition to ₵50 worth of SRC dues, however, this change brings the new bill to ₵2,520.
This is ill-timed because it will add to the existing stress and financial hardship hovering in the system.
As described by you, Mr President, “we are not in normal times”. It’s within this period some incentives and measures were put in place to absorb some shock which the pandemic came with. This includes the setting up of the Covid-19 Trust Fund to cushion the economy.
There are many reasons which can be raised to emphasize why you have to come to the aid of students by decreasing their fees.
To begin with, the economic hardship the pandemic brought upon the country left some guardians and students who fend for themselves jobless, with lesser salaries or homeless. This means there is already a financial and emotional social burden on these people who are trying to get their affected business and lives together by finding a new job.
Also, the reports suggest students will not be using the school’s facilities this semester since classes will be held online. This will obviously come with additional costs which will be borne by students who are required to purchase internet data bundles to facilitate studies.
Couldn’t this be an opportunity to subsidise the fees so the excess could at least be used to make up for the cost of data bundles?
Even if classes are held on campus, it should also be noted that the number of weeks in the semester have been reduced due to the late reopening date. This means the utilities and whatnot students are billed for should cost relatively lesser.
To buttress this point even more, we all know that, Mr President, over the past months till December, your office declared the supply of free water in the nation plus subsidised fees for electricity. This only suggests that cost of electricity and water is obviously at an abnormally low point as far as its inclusiveness to the school’s cost of operation is concern.
All these and more make it dire for intervention by your office for the reduction of the ₵2520 being charged as school fees by the management of GIJ this semester. After all, shouldn’t the school seek the welfare of the students first?
It should be noted that if there are no students because they can’t pay up fees, there wouldn’t be a need for lecturers nor an administration.
Mr President, we know the national cake is still available and the students of the Ghana Institute of Journalism want a reduction in their fees as their piece. They want a taste of the much trumpeted cake.
The author is a final year student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism.
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