It looks like government’s decision to stop the payment of utility bills for public universities is affecting their operations.
The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has started complaining bitterly about the effects of the decision.
In a press statement on ‘The state of education in Ghana and other national issues,’ it said, ‘UTAG is not happy with government’s inconsistent position on the issue as it is making it difficult for management of the various public universities to deal with utility bills.’
The association has therefore asked government to ‘come out with a clear position on the matter.’
The university teachers also complained bitterly about government’s decision to withdraw subventions meant for the payment of salaries in the public universities with effect from June 30, 2015.
This was after government had threatened not to migrate them onto the new payroll administration system – the Integrated Payroll and Personal Database (IPPD3) programme.
UTAG as a body, said it would not hesitate to use all legitimate means possible to resist any attempt by government to stifle the smooth operations of the public universities and academic freedom.
The teachers have therefore served notice that ‘any attempt to withdraw subventions to the universities will be in contravention of the Acts and invariably, would have legal ramifications, since payment of subventions to the public universities is captured in the various Acts that established these institutions.’
UTAG has also had cause to complain about the continuous delay in the payment of their book and research allowances which claims are a legitimate part of its conditions of service.
‘Even though this year the leadership has already communicated several times to government for the payment of the said allowances for the 2014/2015 academic year which has just ended, there appears to be no concrete move for the payment apart from the verbal assurance by the minister of education to facilitate payment,’ it noted.
UTAG has since advised government to take urgent steps towards the payment of these allowances by July 31, 2015 in order to forestall any potential disruption of the coming academic year (2015/2016).
On the issue of the ban on recruitment and replacement in the public universities, UTAG said it considers this policy as ‘incomprehensible, preposterous, and absurd. As naturally and expectedly, academic staff numbers keep dwindling as a result of death, retirement, resignation, incapacitation, vacation of post, etc.’
Meanwhile, the university teachers indicated that ‘Public universities in Ghana are inundated with huge numbers of students.’
UTAG said, ‘All the public universities are operating at student-teacher ratios (STRs) far in excess of the approved norms of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE).
‘For instance, the STR for Social Sciences and Humanities by the NCTE norm is 27:1 as against the current situation of 100:1.’
Such a high ratio, the university teachers said, was an indication of ‘inadequate academic staff which compromises the quality of teaching, learning, and research’ insisting, ‘indeed, such an adverse ratio inhibits the universities from developing new programmes to meet current developmental needs of the nation.’
Aside that, UTAG said, ‘This puts undue stress on the few and dwindling academic staff of the universities.’
They bemoaned, ‘Government has also placed a ban on the engagement of part-time lecturers who otherwise would have ameliorated the situation.’
UTAG has therefore declared its full support for the Vice Chancellors of Ghana’s (VCG’s) intention to cut down on student enrolment in order to deal with the twin problems of large class sizes and dwindling academic staff.
‘Indeed, UTAG may be compelled to insist that the universities actualise this course of action in order to safeguard its members,’ it emphasised.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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