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Stakeholders hold dialogue on the effective usage of utilities

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Stakeholders in education, on Wednesday, held a dialogue on the effective usage and management of utilities in public educational institutions.

The dialogue, which was held at the University of Professional Studies, Accra, brought together a strong representation of experts, academics, policy makers, educationists, education unions, students and relevant stakeholders to contribute to finding effective and lasting ways of managing utilities in all the nation’s educational institutions.

Its focus was on strategies for sustainable consumption of utilities in educational institutions, alternative means of providing utilities in educational institutions, and the role of users; especially students in ensuring responsible and sustainable consumption.

Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, the Minister for Education in her opening remarks, said the provision and the management of utilities were important features of economic development.

She said governments and their people the world over had put in place strategies and policies to ensure the supply and utilization of utilities for both commercial and public consumption in a very efficient way.

“In the education sector, government continues to provide and subsidize utilities to ensure access for efficient operations,” she said. “We have been living the pressure of lack and problem of sustainability over the last decade or so. We need a public dialogue in this vein, in order to propose ways out.”

The Minister said in 2013, the Cabinet considered a memorandum on the migration of educational institutions unto a “prepaid metering system”.

However, she explained that the Ministry also submitted a memorandum requesting Cabinet to consider and convey approval for the deferment of public educational institutions from being migrated unto the pre-paid metering system.

Prof Opoku-Agyemang said the Government, therefore, charged the Ministry and other institutions that were so exempted to propose ways of dealing with the problem of rising costs in utility consumption.

She said: “As government  continues to show commitment in ensuring the supply of utilities and at minimal cost in education, we all have the responsibility to continuously provide strategies in areas of alternative sources, conservation, reduction of waste and other prudent measures that will improve the efficient usage of utilities, a case in point being electricity.”

“It is to the terrain of higher education that any government looks for solutions to national problems,” she stated.

The Minister said between November 2011 and February 2013, the Government expended a total of GH¢ 25, 070, 777.69 on the utility bills of 13 public tertiary institutions.

She said between August 2013 and January last year, GH¢ 6,979,978.86 was also spent on 19 public tertiary institutions’ utilities cost.

Prof Opoku-Agyemang pointed out that these figures represented just a fraction of the full cost of utilities in the public educational institutions.

“We must all act quickly towards innovative and responsible approaches in addressing high cost of utility consumption.

“It seems clear that as educational institutions expand their infrastructure to meet the needs of the growing institutional body, it is imperative to adopt and implement utility efficient practices for energy utilization… New policies about construction, usage are in order,” she stated.

She said implementing utility-efficient practices on the campuses had shown to reduce both utility bills and maintenance cost, adding that, exploring other alternatives of energy sources could also be a huge step in reducing costs.

Prof Nii Noi Dowuona, Head, Department of Soil Science at the University of Ghana, called for the judicious usage and management of utilities on campuses of tertiary institutions.

 


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