COMMENT: Who Speaks For The Poor?

Another academic year is here and the universities and other tertiary institutions have begun in earnest advertising their admission applications in the newspapers. As usual the application forms are being sold at exorbitant prices relative to the high level of poverty in the country. Why must the cost of admission application forms increase year in, year out? Here is a country where a greater majority of the people can hardly afford a single meal a day. And considering the fact that admission application forms do not in any way guarantee admission for an applicant, one can safely describe the high amounts charged for the forms as extortions. The universities and the other tertiary institutions should rethink or risk being rechristened by the poor as ĎArmedrobbersities and Thiefiary institutionsí. For why should they exploit the vulnerability of the people as a means to generate revenue? I humbly posit that they are engaging in robbery, pure and simple. What percentage of applicants are they able to admit in an academic year? Less than 40% what happens to the money of the 60%+ who fail to gain admission? Donít we as a nation castigate embassies and high commissions for high visa application fees given that the applications do not guarantee granting of the visa? Why are we then doing this injustice to our own? Is it because no one speaks for them? The poor in this country struggle, sleeping on empty stomach just to raise this whopping amount, by their standard, to purchase application forms for their wards. Heaven alone knows how many times they would have been robbed of such amounts for unsuccessful applications. Or are we saying one must pay, for just dreaming of enrolling in a tertiary institution to pursue higher learning? The universities and other tertiary institutions should as a matter of necessity come up with innovative, acceptable, humane and fair means of raising revenue. Perhaps it should be considered that admission forms must be free so long as one meets the basic entry requirement. Those who eventually gain admission, I believe, would be very willing to share the admission application processing cost. And that would be fair. And for institutions such as the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and Institute of Professional Studies (IPS), the least ink expended on them, the better. Are those institutions still under state subvention? Or they are now privately owned? Why do they charge how much they do for fees? Such exorbitant fees charged by those institutions send the poor and have notís to flight, and thereby, perpetually kill their dream of acquiring higher education. If, indeed, as a nation we subscribe to the notion that education is a right and not a privilege as it is happening in this country now, somebody must reign in these institutions and stop them from running rough shod on poor Ghanaians.