The Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASAG) has said that its intended picketing at the Flagstaff House on Wednesday, September 21, has been postponed.
The association pointed out that due to reasons beyond its control, the protest would not come off. Additionally, government had shown goodwill in addressing the disbursement of their delayed allowances as the two parties continue to negotiate for an amicable solution.
However, failure to arrive at a suitable conclusion will result in a demonstration which has been slated for Wednesday September 28.
The president of the association, Rashid Kwesi Etuaful, indicated through a press release that the leadership of GRASAG had been called back to the negotiation table for the third time by the Ministry of Education to find solutions to their predicament.
Further, the National Delegates Congress of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), the mother association of students in Ghana, also falls on the initial date for the picketing, hence making it impossible to continue with their earlier intended action on the said day.
He explained that NUGS, the University Students’ Association of Ghana (USAG) and other student blocs have promised total support and participation after the all-important National Delegates Congress of which GRASAG also needs to participate.
In terms of security, the police could not also give them clearance to go ahead with the picketing because “GRASAG learnt that our chosen date clashed with several other equally important national and international programmes (Milo National Marathon and a U.N. peace match between Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak), all on the same date which will overstretch the strength of the Police to supervise this public action of ours”.
GRASAG had decided to picket after they indicated that they had exhausted all avenues available and had duly followed the laid down and required procedure yet the Ministry of Finance had failed to mobilise and release the cheques to the Scholarship Secretariat for the payment of close to GHS4 million being thesis and bursary grant for graduate students.
“Over the past few years, the excessive delay of allowance has caused students to go through unbearable hardship, particularly in the completion of our research work, and many students find themselves stranded on the field collecting data,” Mr Etuaful argued in an earlier interview with Class News.
According to him, the thesis grants were payments made to PhD, MPhil and MA/Postgraduate Diploma students working on their research for one academic year, while the bursary grants were paid uniformly across board annually to mitigate the course cost of postgraduate education. The continual payment of these grants and allowances demonstrates the fact that governments over the years appreciate the significance of postgraduate education and research to our national economy.
He lamented that the amount was not enough as he called for an increase. He did not understand why the payment of the current funds, which are not even sufficient, continues to be delayed until the end of the year.
The association, therefore, wonders “why the payment of the grants, which has been fixed at as low as GHS450.00 for Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Arts (MA) students, as well as GHS470.00 and GHS700.00 for Master of Philosophy and PhD students respectively”, has been delayed amazingly to the extent that the academic year has virtually ended.
They, therefore, appealed to government to establish a permanent solution to solve the recurring undue delay in disbursement and institute “immediate measures to ensure an increment in the bursary and thesis grant since it is evidentially clear that the current allowance given to the graduate student is woefully inadequate”.