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Govt Has Been Very Tolerant With Striking Lecturers – Omane Boamah
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Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah says the government has been very tolerant with striking lecturers particularly polytechnic teachers, having paid their salaries all through the period that they have been on strike.

Polytechnic Teachers have been on strike since mid-May in demand for the restoration of their book and research allowance, the same cause for which university lecturers also embarked on a strike.

But according to the minister, a clear distinction ought to be drawn between the actions of the two teacher associations, for while the members of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) embarked on a strike that led to the truncation of the academic calendar of the nation’s polytechnics, the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), only embarked on a strike when the universities had vacated.

“It must be emphasised, in terms of a certain distinction - the lecturers of our universities, that is UTAG, ensured that much as they have some misgivings about their book and research allowance, they did not truncate the academic calendar. They taught, they conducted exams, students went on vacation, it was during the vacation that they embarked on their action. That distinction must be drawn. It was unfair to lump the two together even as they were raising similar concerns.

“In terms of POTAG, as we speak now, the academic calendar got truncated. The very reason why they are paid their monthly salaries, I guess everybody will know, has to do mainly with teaching in the universities. Of course research can play a role but if teaching was truncated, then obviously government has really, really, really been very, very accommodating and tolerant having paid salaries all the year till now,” he told Radio Gold’s morning Power Drive programme host, Alhassan Suhuyini on Tuesday.

Dr Omane Boamah, while expressing utter confidence in a team currently negotiating an end to the logjam, however drew attention to what he said should be the reality – the proper utilisation of the facility in keeping with the original intent for establishing it so that come next year, government and teachers would not be embroiled in the same tug-of-war.

“In those days when the libraries of the universities and polytechnics were nothing to write home about, when books themselves were very hard to come by, there had to be a certain machinery in schools. Now the situation as we have it, we may not say our libraries are the best in the world, but they are far better than the libraries that existed 10, 15, 20 years ago. And so in looking at book and research allowance, you need also to be looking at sustainability of even these books and research itself.”

Drawing an analogy, Dr Omane Boamah said funding for books which are considered important tools for the teacher and student, should aim at stocking the library for communal use rather than payments that go to an individual’s pocket so that when he leaves the school, the tools remain for the use of future generations.

“Look, it is just like you working here at Radio Gold and then they decide to invest in, let’s say the microphone that you are using. The microphone is purchased for Radio Gold and then you use it as a tool to conduct your trade. If one day you are moving to a different radio station, are you going to go along with the tool that is called the microphone? The manner in which we have it now, because it goes to the individual when the books are purchased, let’s assume that they are purchased all the time, … we are going to have a situation where it is not communal, it is not for the use of the entire university community.”

Added to this, he said, is the reality of the digital age and the opportunities offered by e-libraries that can greatly facilitate research and readily make available several research resources, explaining that there is need rather to invest in digital libraries that when the proper regulatory and security measures are implemented, the books could be available to the entire university community – lecturers and students alike.
Source: Daily Graphic

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