General News of Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Members of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) nationwide, will embark on a strike on September 18 2017, in protest against a court ruling which directed the Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), to step aside temporarily.
This strike is in solidarity with the UTAG-UEW, whose members have already laid down their tools since July 2017.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the UTAG at an emergency meeting held at University of Professional Studies, Accra, on September 11, 2017, asked the UTAG-UEW to continue with the strike action embarked upon in July 2017.
It further directed that “UTAG members in all the other public Universities throughout the country should withdraw their teaching services beginning Monday, September 18, 2017, in solidarity with UTAG-UEW.”
UTAG is of the view the court directive was “an attack on academic freedom, and thus, affects all public Universities in Ghana.”
The UTAG National Executive Committee, however, appealed to all members to “diligently perform all other duties placed on them by their appointments.”
A Winneba High Court in July ordered the Vice Chancellor of UEW, Professor Mawutor Avokeh, to step aside until a case brought against him and the University’s Governing Council is determined.
The order also affected the institution’s Finance Officer.
The order was made in a case brought before the court by Supi Kofi Kwayera who insisted that the Vice Chancellor and the Finance Officer were operating under the institution’s defunct governing council.
The plaintiff held that the University’s Council’s mandate had expired in November 2013, but the Education Ministry failed to constitute a new Governing Council for the university, and rather allowed and permitted the defunct Governing Council which had no mandate whatsoever to continue the functions of a properly constituted Governing Council as if same had been properly constituted.
This, Mr. Kwayera insisted was unlawful, and hence his legal action against the University of Education, Winneba.
Find below the full statement
UTAG PRESS RELEASE ON THE UEW ISSUE
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) at an emergency meeting held at University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) on September 11, 2017 has asked UTAG-UEW to continue with the strike action embarked upon on July 14, 2017 following a court order instructing the substantive Vice Chancellor to step aside.
NEC further directs that UTAG members in all the other public Universities throughout the country should withdraw their teaching services beginning Monday, September 18, 2017 in solidarity with UTAG-UEW. It is our firm belief that the issue at UEW is an attack on academic freedom and, thus, affects all public Universities in Ghana. The National Executive Committee, however, appeals to all members to diligently perform all other duties placed on them by their appointments. This decision has become necessary as a result of the following:
The recently inaugurated Governing Council of University of Education, Winneba (UEW) does not seem to be interested and for that matter serious in resolving the issue. Particularly, the posturing of the Council Chairman, who has rather made matters worse by writing to the University lawyer to withdraw the whole appeal process by the University from the Appeals Court and the Stay of Execution of the injunction order issued by the High Court. This is a clear case of ill intention in pursuit of sabotaging the substantive Vice Chancellor.
The imposition of an Acting Vice Chancellor by the High Court on UEW, as against UEW’s Act and Statutes, is an act considered as an element of attack on Academic Freedom.
The lack of interest exhibited by the Ministry of Education in the matter; it may interest the Public to know that there has not been any representation from the Ministry since the court processes started although it is listed as the Second Respondent. This unconcerned posturing was further exacerbated by the decision of the Minister of State in Charge of Tertiary Education not to facilitate a meeting with some personalities in an attempt to resolve the issue amicably. This idea was initiated by UTAG and communicated to the Minister following the President’s call on UEW’s Council to resolve the UEW impasse amicably.
The resolve of UTAG to at all times protect and preserve the sanctity of Academic Freedom and the sanity of the working environment of its members on all of its constituent campuses.
NEC also gives a one-week ultimatum within which the current impasse in UEW should be resolved. Considering what happens, however, NEC will review its decision at the up-coming UTAG Congress, to be held on September 22, 2017 at the University of Cape Coast.
HARRY L. K. AGBANU PH.D.