General News of Friday, 19 October 2018
The Legon chapter of University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has made a case for post-retirement contract lecturers to remain on government’s payroll.
UTAG Legon President, Dr. Harry Agbanu in an interview with Joy News’ Maxwell Agbagba stated replacing such experienced staff could derail academic progress at the tertiary institutions.
“As you teach and research that is when you gain a lot of experience because that is when you know your subject area better than anybody else.
“You are an expert in the area and when it comes to training post-graduates, you need people of senior professorial rank to train them,” he said.
He explained that because the journey to becoming a professor is a herculean one, most people hit 60 before attaining such laurels in academic circles.
Prof Agbanu’s comments follow a letter from the National Council on Tertiary Education (NTCE) directing public universities to delete from their payroll post-retirement contract lecturers above 65 years.
The letter signed by the Executive Secretary of the Council, Prof. Mohammed Salifu, referenced Article 199 of the 1992 Constitution which prescribed age limit of 65 years for appointment in the public sector.
“Based on this premise, it is argued that universities have no justification to engage retired staff above 65 years on post-retirement contract.
“Only post-retirement contract staff in the age group of 60-65 should remain on government payroll,” it said in part.
The letter further directed that all academic staff above 65 are to be taken off government payroll and reassigned as consultants if their services are still required.
If the universities choose to keep these over 65-year-old lecturers and professors then they will bear the cost themselves.
But Prof Agbanu said letting go such fine brains is a loss to the country because “in most part of the world, lecturers are allowed to teach as long as they are able to.”
He said they are happy that President Akufo-Addo has intervened to engage all the interested parties.
“He called a meeting and directed that the right thing is done. The president thinks it is not done anywhere and has asked the stakeholders to sit down and resolve the problem once and for all.
“We are confident that this case will be put behind us and looking into the future something must be done about it once and for all,” he said.
The Legon UTAG president blamed the Public Services Commission (PSC) for refusing to allow the universities to retain such lecturers and professors knowing very well the reality on the ground.
Some students also kicked against the move to remove the affected persons from the payroll because they claim most of the departments are understaffed with only a few professors.
In spite of the opposition, Minority spokesperson on Education, Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, is supporting the government’s plan to delete such persons from the payroll insisting universities.
He argues that the public universities must bear the cost if they cannot replace them.
“We are in a country where unemployment is very high and if people should remain at post at 65 years and not ready to give way to others people to take over and learn to be experienced, then where are we going?
“If we give the excuse that they are critical minds that need to be retained, then when are we going to train the young minds to gain experience and become critical employees,” he noted.
Mr Nortsu-Kotoe tasked public universities to plan and know how to factor the exit of the old lecturers and professors so they can train and promote those who will replace them.