General News of Friday, 14 July 2017
The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has issued a two-week ultimatum to government to pay all outstanding research and book allowances owed its members.
The lecturers, who are lamenting over the delay in the payment of the arrears, are also demanding the constitution of governing councils for all public tertiary institutions in the country.
According to them, the development is indicative of the lack of interest in strengthening tertiary education by the Nana Akufo-Addo-led government.
UTAG, in a statement signed by its president, Dr Harry Agbanu, said: “After an emergency meeting held at the University of Ghana on the 11th of July, 2017, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) would like to inform government and the general public as follows: UTAG has noted with grave concern government’s steps with regard to two major issues presently affecting lecturers and the administration of public universities in Ghana.
These are: 1) Delay by government in the constitution of the various councils of the public universities and its implications on management and administration of the universities, 2) Delay in the release of the 2016/2017 Book and Research Allowances (BRA) by government and its implications on research, teaching and learning.
“The Acts establishing all public universities require that University Councils preside over or have oversight responsibility on the administration of public universities. It is common knowledge that the absence of statutory boards like the University Councils almost incapacitates the smooth and cohesive running of the Public Universities in Ghana and, therefore, cannot carry out their legitimate businesses properly and as independent academic institutions. In effect, all the public universities in the country are in a state of some sort of inertia.
All over the world, institutions of higher learning are protected from all kinds of interferences, be it political, economic or social, in order not to inhibit the function of very key institutions like the University Council for the smooth existence of our society. However, UTAG has noted with extreme dismay that Government, since taking office on the 7th of January 2017, has not been able to constitute the councils of public universities in Ghana.
The government’s inability to do this, whilst having constituted other important boards of the state, after six good months in office, we believe, demonstrates government’s lack of concern for the health of public universities. NEC of UTAG feels strongly it is unacceptable and even unethical for public universities’ management and administration and, so, the sooner government constitutes the various Councils, the better.
“On the second point of BRA of senior members of the University, we wish to acknowledge government’s commitment to pay. However, UTAG is extremely unhappy for the undue delay in the processes leading to the payment of the allowances.
Having in mind that the Honourable Minister of Education’s announced that monies had been released as far back as February 2017, it is incomprehensible and for that matter unacceptable that payment has not been effected till date, today July 12, 2017 and, in fact, when the academic year the allowances are due has just ended.
It may interest government and its functionaries which are to see to the payment of the allowances that there are growing concerns on the campuses of the various public universities and tensions are mounting. It is instructive to note that a new academic year, the 2017/2018 academic year, is beginning in August, 2017 and the demand for its BRA beckons. Accordingly, any further delay will not be countenanced.
“UTAG is, therefore, giving government a two week ultimatum to have the universities’ councils in place and also pay the BRA (i.e. Book and Research Allowance), effective today 12th July, 2017. UTAG would advise itself should government fail to appreciate our concerns and comply accordingly.”