A political science lecturer, Prof. Ransford Gyampo, has mounted a strong defence against subtle attempts by politicians to introduce partisan politics into second cycle institutions, and warned of serious consequences on student activism in the country.
In his analysis, since the beginning of the fourth republic, politicians have used political socialisation to wipe out the conscience of students in the tertiary education level.
He said students of Ghana who were once feared by politicians for their independent mindedness, determination and strength in shaping the country’s governance have now been weakened by partisan politics.
According to the Head of European Studies at the University of Ghana, politicians have since 1992 employed surreptitious tactics to douse the flames of student activism which threatened their political regimes.
Ghanaian students, he observed, were a force to reckon with in Ghanaian politics, as “who must lead Ghana and who must be kicked out of power was to a large extent, determined by students”.
Today, he said, the student front in Ghana has now been polarized on party lines by acts of politicians, indicating the situation has weakened “their strength as the conscience of the nation”.
“The current state of student activism in Ghana has given the licence for political buffoonery to thrive. Any political regime can choose to misgovern because they have succeeded in polarizing the student front and can always count on their student supporters to sing their praises,” he stated.
The don observed politicians thwarted attempts by university authorities to ban political party activism on the university campuses and to outlaw party branches in the schools to be able to deal with political tension on campus and ensure a united student front in a manner that restores the tremendous power of student activism.
“Good leaders do not silence voices of reason. Good leaders do not surround themselves with voices that only “yes sa” them,” he pointed out.
Rather, he said, good leaders encourage “voices of reason and independent actors like Ghanaian students in time past”.
Prof. Gyampo’s analysis comes on the back of the argument for and against partisan political activities at second cycle institutions in the wake of the arrest of a National Democratic Congress executive for campaigning and allegedly inciting students of the Tempane SHS.
The Ghana Education Service consequent to that case issued a statement reinforcing a ban of all kinds of partisan political activity on the campuses of second cycle institutions and their students.
But former President John Mahama last week disagreed with the action taken by the GES, and challenged the government to cause his arrest as he would campaign on the various senior high schools.
While some have hailed the decision by the GES not to tolerate partisan political activities in the second cycle institutions, some critics have condemned same, arguing there are students who are 18 years and above, hence politicians should have unfettered access to them on campus.
But Prof. Gyampo said partisan politics should not be allowed to creep into or fester in senior high schools to deteriorate the already sad spectacle at the tertiary level.
“Extending partisan politics on the campuses of secondary schools would only aggravate the problem [in the tertiary level] and contribute to the total annihilation of student activism in Ghana,” he contended.
While he said he subscribes to the view that political socialisation can start from nursery schools, he said the intentions of the politicians and the consequences of their actions at that level cannot be trusted.
Meanwhile, he has urged Ghanaian leaders from across the political divide “to help restore the dignity, power and role of students as the conscience of the nation”.
“I also call on current crop of students, and student leaders, particularly those who are very needy not to fall for the cash influences and promises from politicians but to rethink their felicitations and fraternizations with partisan politicians, for God, country and conscience,” he urged.