The Minority Leader of the Students' Parliament of University of Education, Winneba , Kumasi- Campus, Hon.
Oscar Anning popularly known as "Ogee" laid his statement in the floor of the house at the 4th sitting of the 12th Parliament house, condemning the vandalism, destruction and other unscrupulous act of students in our higher learning institutions.
Below is the full statement presented.
STUDENT VANDALISM IN SCHOOLS, WHO IS TO BLAME?
Student vandalism should be over. The destructions should seize. The blame is a shared one. The way forward is key.
Violence, vandalism, and destructions in our higher learning institutions is getting worse and the earlier a clear action and remedy is taken to arrest the situation, the better for us as a people.
Students these days by a way of expressing their displeasure againt certain actions and policies by the authorities of institutions tend to resort to demonstrations, a constitutional right.
Article 21(1) (d) of the 1992 Constitution provides that: “All persons shall have the right to freedom of assembly including freedom to take part in processions and demonstrations.”
The framers of the constitution in their wisdom envisaged a possibility of people resorting to demonstrations as a way of either expressing their happiness or objecting to certain actions or policies from school authorities or the government.
So here, we are getting to identify or have earlier identified that demonstrations are also not for the negative of it but at times, positive.
The question now is; should people use violence as a means to call for legitimate demands? Obviously, No.
World Health Organization defines violence as ‘’the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation’’.
Now, when the violence occurs at a particular place, we look round and cast incinerations on people amidst blame games, mostly, on those in authority positions.
For the purpose of our presentation, we are critically looking at the key stakeholders of such institutions/schools; the Heads of the schools, Students, Teachers/Lecturers, government and parents/society. All the above stakeholders will partly have a role to play should chaos happen in schools in the name of students fighting for their rights, therefore, one person or group can not fully carry the cross.
Indiscipline, unpatriotism, gross insubordination, egocentrism and youthful exuberance (especially when some are under the influence of high drugs and alcohol) are all factors that cause violence and vandalism.
Students' disobedience to police guidance during demonstrations leads to violence. Before a group of persons are given the approval by the police, the two parties agree on some principal routes to take throughout their demonstration processes. So if students pay deaf ears to police's directions and guidelines, it can result to a rift between them and in the end causing a whole lot destructions.
BBC in May, 2016 reported that student demonstration in Chile turned violent as police used tear gas and water cannons to divert the march.
This is as a result of Protestants' refusal to take an alternative route suggested by police in central Santiago and hurled stones at them.
Again in Chile in 2001
Violence erupted on the streets of Chile's capital and other cities as tens of thousands of students staged another protest demanding changes in public education.
Masked demonstrators burned cars and barricades, looted shops and threw furniture at police in Santiago on Tuesday. Some attacked an apartment building, throwing rocks and breaking windows. Riot police used tear gas and tanks with water cannons to push them back.
By nightfall, at least 273 protesters were detained, including 73 in Santiago, and 23 police officers were injured,
Counsellor Lutterodt, a renowned outspoken counsellor on Kasapa FM on October 24 after the KNUST riot had this to say:
“How on earth, should students be angry and in their anger, they didn’t destroy their own clothes but the properties of the school and we are looking at them.”
This is because those items being destroyed are not theirs or their parents hence, they can destroy them.
Do you set your father's home ablaze when he fails to provide a demand? Interestingly, No. But that of the government, Yes. Because it doesn't belong to anyone.
I have always asked that why don't students set fire in their JCR or their DSTV when 'they're mad'? Maybe because they think of Champions League games. Such vandalism activities are intentional.
Students' egocentric nature has always been a a cause of violence in schools. If not in favour of them, then we need to destroy.
The government is the prime owner of all public institutions and that if there is anything going on wrongly in any institution, it must hasten to act in order to early arrest a possible conflict or violence.
In the case of the KNUST recent riot which has gained the attention of the world, the government was not quick to act. However, after the worst happened, the President then goes ahead to dissolve the Governing Council of the University.
My question then is; what prevented the President from intervening from the beginning and waiting until destruction?
In some cases, the security have its part to play. Why do they watch on for students to destroy when they can apply the law? The police is entrusted with protecting lives and property so why should they watch for the very thing they are tasked to protect destroy?
THE SOCIETY/COURT SYSTEM
We live in a society of late where condemning the wrongs is almost fading out. People go about doing all sort of things that under normal circumstance should be ending them behind bars but in the end, it is either the Attorney General playing delay tactics, filing in a nolle prosequi (showing no interest) in the matter or the court delaying in prosecution processes. If this is the order of the day, then a lot more people will go about, destroy freely and walk about freely.
EFFECTS OF THE VIOLENCE
1. Cost burden on the poor parents whose wards may not have taken part in the destruction
2. Cost burden on the government in replacing the losses which such money could have been channelled into other lucrative ventures.
3. Lives are lost and a lot more people sustain various degrees of injuries.
4. Interjections in academic activities.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER ALTERNATIVES OTHER THAN VIOLENCE?
1. The use of press conferences
2. The use of round table discussions to arrive at a good conclusion because even after the destructions, that option will hold
3. Seeking redress at the court.
4. Petitioning appropriate authorities/quarters.
To conclude, there has not been a justification or evidences to show that indeed violence is a means of getting your grievances heard and resolved. Let us as students and good citizens of our motherland resist any form of influence which will push us on the streets to cause destructions. If the ordinary people who have little or no idea of the laws will destroy, it shouldn't be us as intellectuals.
Your life is supreme
Property of the state or public must be protected
The nation is ours.
(Minority Leader of Student Parliament, University of Education, Winneba, Kumasi)