Opinion Why national corruption stems from student politics

The educational system – especially at the tertiary level – has been infiltrated with so much politics that it is gradually reaching an untenable point.

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play Why national corruption stems from student politics
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In the end, a nation with so much promise stands as one of the most corrupt in the world. This is a country that celebrated its 60th anniversary just a few weeks ago. But what is there to show?

There are still not many manufacturing companies to convert raw materials into secondary products, the average Ghanaian graduate is still not guaranteed a job irrespective of his or her qualifications, misuse of public funds have become the norm, and some state institutions have become pencils in the hands of a selected, powerful few.

In all this, it is the average Ghanaian that is most affected, and one is tempted to ask how long this ‘national disaster’ will continue. For a country blessed with so many resources, it leaves much to be desired if it still has to depend on foreign aid for survival.

So has it really been 60 years of hope or just an adventure of apathy? For the better part of the last six decades, Ghana has been stripped bear, but its true nakedness lies within a flawed system that is supposed to be churning out the perfect nationalists. And I’m talking about student politics!

Ask a two-year-old who the most corrupt persons in the world are and he will not hesitate to tell you they are ‘the politicians’. But what many have failed to realize is that these politicians are what they are today because they stemmed from a rotten system at the secondary and tertiary levels.

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The educational system – especially at the tertiary level – has been infiltrated with so much politics that it is gradually reaching an untenable point. The two leading political parties in Ghana, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), have successfully penetrated into tertiary institutions to make sure they are well represented.

For every tertiary institution in Ghana – be it the University of Ghana, the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) or the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) – the NPP and NDC have managed to have to say in matters of the respective Students’ Representative Councils (SRC).

SRC presidents in recent times are either linked to the Tertiary Students Confederacy (TESCON), the student wing of the NPP, or the Tertiary Educational Institutions Network (TEIN), the student wing of the NDC.

Even Deans and Rectors have been involved in this political dog-fight. It is no secret that when either of the aforementioned parties comes to power, a Dean or Rector affiliated to them is put in office. And this is primarily to help push an agenda to the various student bodies.

Students protesting in Ghana play

Students protesting in Ghana


In 2014, some students of KNUST protested against the university’s Dean of Students, Dr. Kofi Owusu Daaku, for allegedly trying to interfere with the SRC elections. And even though the issue was eventually toned down, the larger problem was left untackled.

The Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) is no different. For an institute that is tasked with training the next generation of journalists, it should be a source of worry when students graduate without any form of thinking towards national interest.

Student politics have become plagued with propaganda and deceit, and its bad fruits are being reaped at the national level. Who could have imagined that a day would come when student leaders would have the temerity to lie, propagate falsehood and engage in dirty politics?

Some misdealings that were only synonymous with national politics have now become the norm in student politics. Rigging of SRC elections on various campuses are now commonplace, relegating the interest of students is now the new policy, and corruption has become the order of the day as far as the coffers of students are concerned.

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These are the same students – and in the case of GIJ, the journalists – that will in the near future be running the affairs of this nation. So if they are corrupt at this stage, then it is most likely that the same attitude will be seen when they get to the national level.

Make no mistake about it; the current student leaders in our various tertiary institutions are the same people going to become our Members of Parliaments, Assemblymen, and Presidents. But with the current system where students learn to be corrupt even before they graduate, then the future of Ghana would, and should, certainly look bleak.

How many times have we not heard Ghana being tagged as the beacon of hope, the gateway to Africa, God’s chosen nation, et al? But can it be said, honestly, that the nation has lived up to the billing?

This is a country rich in gold, bauxite, cocoa and recently crude oil, among others. There are fertile lands for crops to grow, and a conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive. But all that has not been able to lead Ghana out of the pool of financially handicapped countries.

It is certainly not a problem of resources, but one of leadership. And the root of the larger national problem stems from what transpires with students at the tertiary level.

So if corruption can be fought outright, then our tertiary institutions should be the first area that needs cleansing.

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