The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has appealed to President John Dramani Mahama, to as a matter of urgency, appoint members of the Board of Trustees for the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund).
According to NUGS, as stipulated in section 6 (2) of the Ghana Education Trust Act, 2000 (Act 581), this should be done in order to ensure that the Fund operated in a more efficient and effective manner.
Speaking at a news conference in Accra, Mr Michael Paa- Quecy Adu, National President of NUGS, explained that the absence of the 17-member Board of Trustees was contrary to the law.
He said the Board was responsible for the management of the Fund and for that matter has to pursue policies to achieve the objectives of the Fund.
“Collect monies lawfully due to the schemes for students in tertiary institutions, invest such monies of the Fund in safe securities as it considers financially beneficial to the Fund; and contribute monies from the Fund towards the operation of student loan schemes for tertiary students,” he said.
Quoting, part of Section 8(2) of the law establishing the GETFund, he said “the Board shall submit annually to parliament for approval a formula for the distribution of monies to various account”, this Mr Paa- Quecy Adu said includes accounts for tertiary education, second cycle education, basic education, investment and other related aspects of education.
“In the absence of a functioning Board of Trustees, one is tempted to ask how the functions of the GETFund Board were being executed and by whom?
Mr Paa- Quecy Adu again stated that over the past few years, the statutory allocations due the GETFund had either not been paid or had been unduly delayed, much to the discomfort of the management of the Fund;, whereas, it had led to several GETFund projects across the country being abandoned at various stages of completion, thereby affecting quality teaching and learning.
He said, according to Section 3 (a) of the GETFund law, the sources of money for the Fund include “an amount of money equivalent to two and one half percent out of the prevailing rate of the Value Added Tax (VAT) to be paid by the VAT Service, to the Fund or such percentage not being less than two and one half per cent of the VAT rate, as Parliament may determine”.
He said the delays seems to be a permanent cycle in the financial year of GETFund, and government’s lackadaisical attitude in handling sensitive matters of education in Ghana should cease, adding that “the NUGS demands that it stops with immediate effect”.
In another development, Mr Paa- Quecy Adu stated NUGS’s position that Ghanaian students were not in any position to pay for utility bills in public schools across the country.
He said however, it was gratifying to note that government, through a cabinet decision had decided to absolve the cost of utility bills in public schools.
He said NUGS’s concern in recent times had been on some contradictory statements from government officials and heads of academic institution.
Mr Paa- Quecy Adu lamented that ever since government embarked on load shedding exercise about three years ago, the electricity situation, instead of improving had grown from bad to worse.
He said there was an urgent need to separate long term solutions to the energy crisis from the very short term solutions which were required to get the country out of the current crisis.
“We are disappointed with the government so far as the current state of electricity supply to our institutions of learning are concerned; indeed government could have done better,” he stated.