Government has asked authorities at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to reconsider the decision converting Kantanga Hall, an all-male hall of residence, into a mixed one.
Education Minister Mathew Opoku Prempeh in letter to the chairman of the KNUST council said “the position of Government on this matter that (Katanga) University Hall remain a male hall of residence”.
Authorities at KNUST last year converted single sex halls single-sex halls – Katanga Hall, Unity Hall (Conti) and Africa Hall – into mixed halls; a decision that triggered agitations among students and alumni resulting in a violent protest and destruction of school property.
A Committee which was established to investigate the matter and suggest remedy to prevent such occurrence has since this year finished its report which has been submitted to the university authorities.
Even before a decision is taken on the report, the university has again this year, assigned females to these halls, raising simmering tension as the students and the alumni fear authorities will not reverse the conversion decision.
A group calling itself ‘Concerned Katangees’ issued a warning over the conversion of the all-male University Hall into a mixed hall of residence.
The group on August 26 claimed KNUST was sitting “on a time bomb” as authorities and stakeholders have failed to resolve the issues surrounding the conversion of the all-male hall to a mixed one.
According to them, though they have used all necessary procedures and legal processes, “we can unequivocally put it across that, most of the important stakeholders we appealed to have done nothing to ensure that the case is settled amicably, as ladies have been assigned to the University Hall this year again”.
The group thus warned that it will not rest until the University Hall is reversed back to its original status as an all-male hall of residence.
Sensing apparent disturbances, the Ashanti Regional Security Council on September 3 declared the KNUST campus a security zone, claiming the alumni was instigating the students and others to engage in activities that will disturb academic work and peace on campus.
It asked “any person or group that has grievances” against the university to present same to the appropriate authorities.
But on Thursday, some five students of Katanga who met at Maxima around the university campus were arrested by the police, deepening the already volatile situation.
Reverse your decision
On the back of these developments, the Education Minister in the letter dated September 5 said his attention has been drawn to “the brewing and simmering tension” on the campus and was likely to affect academic work and the university community.
“The root cause of the situation referred to above is the Conversion of University Hall (Katanga), a male hall of residence, into a mixed hall,” he observed.
He thus underscored the need for the university council, which he admitted has the right to take decisions they deem fit, to give “some consideration… to other views on the conversion policy of converting University Hall into a mixed hall”.
The Minister explained single sex-halls tradition is found in other universities such as the University of Cape Coast and the University for Development Studies.
“To preserve a peaceful and conducive environment for effective academic work and cordial relationships in the University, the Ministry prevails upon you [the council] to reconsider this conversion policy,” he appealed.