In every country, academia is supposed to be the intellectual hub of the country. They are expected to identify specific challenges in the country and research towards such challenges. Basic universal objective of research is to find solutions to existing problems. Research and expert advice from the academic community in other parts of the world are therefore tailored towards solving societal problems and are geared towards reforms and policy formulation. In places such as China, it has been reported that the political class takes decisions purely based on research findings and expert advice from the academia.
In our part of the world however, our politicians have over the years arrogated for themselves all the knowledge in solving every problem in the country. For the politician in Ghana, he is a Jack of all trades and an expert in all fields. Thankfully this weird mindset has been fuelled with the help of the press, whom a number of them see an issue as news worthy only when a politician speaks on it. For some of our friends in the media, the only certified newsmakers in the country are politicians hence giving politicians a false sense of ‘Mr. Know it All’.
Unfortunately, the academic community which is supposed to be the better alternative for us as a country, has only turn out to be cynics and town criers who only trumpet our challenges and problems without offering a single alternative means of solutions. Some people from the academic community have become linguists of the society who only help in trumpeting the challenges of the society. In our era where social media has made everybody a “ProdUser” (Producer and User) who can generate their own content, some members from the academic community have even had louder “horn speakers” where they can trumpet louder the very challenges we all know about as a country. So unlike proffering solutions, with just some few followings on social media and in the era of media hybridity, all they do is to shout the more without any alternative solution.
But what does one expert when the academic community themselves have no clue as to how to handle simple issues at their own backyard. The Akan says; “he who has the cotton wool at the butt jumps not the fire.” Obviously, our academic community have a huge cotton wool at their butt and hence their inability to propose a single solution to the country’s challenges except to join the masses in grief and despair and to shout on top of their voices calling the ‘magician’ politician to pull the magic wand and solve all our problems. The sad part though is that, whiles they proffer no solution, they still expert everybody to see them as the most ‘sensible’ just because they shout the loudest.
Last year, a single decision taken by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) led to the destruction of property worth thousands of millions of Ghana cedis at the nation’s premium technology institution. A year on, there is still no clear cut decision on the way forward and how to reverse the unnecessary tension the “unpopular” decision brought to the school. Shockingly, even before the matter is brought to a permanent rest, the school has repeated the same action it took which resulted in the unrest last year. Already reports from the school and discussion on social media suggest that if care is not taken, a similar despicable scene as was witnessed last year may be repeated this year. Early this week, it had to take the leadership of the Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASG KNUST) and the Students Representative Council (SRC) of the school to calm nerves. Already, management of the school has had to postpone the reopening date of the school for continuing students from the originally communicated 13th September to 16th September 2019, whiles the Ashanti Regional Security Council has declared the school a security zone following fears that some persons are scheming to disturb the peace of the University.
If an institution with hundreds of professors and PhD holders cannot solve an issue as simple as accommodation for students and think the best way to increase female population in their school is to just wake up one day and turn all Male halls into mixed halls, then we really have a long way to go. The school had one whole year in the midst of the disturbances last year to look for investors and to also generate funds to expand infrastructure. But the ‘big’ professors and doctors of the school thought otherwise. With the introduction of the Free SHS and the rate of our population growth, the number of students who shall qualify for admission on yearly basis will continue to surge. If the best solution is to convert halls, what happens when all the halls have been converted and the number of students still increases?
The KNUST is behaving just like the University of Ghana, where the management of a hall with one big main hall and three different annexes all meant for undergraduate students just go to bed one day, wake up and say the only single annex for Graduate students must also be made an undergraduate block because of the increase in number of students. News report says over 9000 first year undergraduate students are stranded. Assuming all existing halls in the school are even converted into undergraduate halls, they may still not be enough. So what is the alternative for the University of Ghana? Must there be another uprising at UG too?
Meanwhile decision taking by the University of Education, Winneba has left the school in turmoil for close to three years and as we speak, the fate of graduands who were supposed to graduate somewhere in July this year still hang in uncertainty.
Really if this is the best alternative our academic community can give to us as a country, then very soon, we may have to canonize our politicians into Saint Akufo-Addo of Kyebi, Saint Mahama of Boli, Saint Kufuor of Kumasi among others for their ability to hold this country together despite our many problems and challenges for all these years.
Our academic community must give us better alternatives.
By: Nana Kwasi