A Deputy Minister of Education in charge of tertiary, Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, says payment of stalled arrears for book and research for university and polytechnic lecturers, is underway following the release of funds by government.
The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) had threatened to embark on another strike if government fails to pay up their Book and Research allowance by October 23.
UTAG suspended a one-week old strike on August 13, following assurances from government that the allowances were going to be paid.
The Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Education, Francis Gbadago, told Citi News last week, that some Ghc15.9 million had been released so far for disbursement.
Speaking on the Point Blank segment of Citi FM’s Eyewitness News, Mr. Okudjeto Ablakwa confirmed that some lecturers had already received their share.
“The latest is that the cheques are now ready at the National Council for Tertiary Education; and the council has informed me that they have communicated with authorities at the universities and the polytechnics and that the finance officers can now pick their cheques. In addition, I do know that a number of institutions have already picked their cheques and so we are now paying the allowance. I know that not all lecturers have received it as at now, but the process is ongoing, so I want to ensure the university and polytechnic community that we have largely addressed the issue. We are making sure that we do not have any distraction in the academic calendar and so we are committed to that “he noted.
According to him, the payment process is a bit cumbersome hence the delay.
“The process is a very detailed one because we want to be sure of lecturers who are still in active service and in good standing so the lecturers’ list is audited. After that, it is submitted to the ministry through the NCTE, and then we submit it to Finance before we know the total number of lecturers entitled to the allowance. The Ministry of Finance then issues the warrant for the Controller and the Bank of Ghana to write the cheque, before it is forwarded to the Ministry of Education. We then send it to the NCTE; from where it is forwarded to the institutions for payment to be done; and so that is how the cycle is. It is paid once at the end of every academic year”.
Okudjeto Ablakwa added that government is committed to setting up the National Research Fund to do away with the old system of supporting research, which is ineffective.
“Currently the draft law on the fund has been completed and it is before cabinet and will go to Parliament soon. We want to have an independent body that will administer this fund so that it will not be based on the priorities of any government or political party. The higher institutions of learning will be allowed to manage their research fund so that lecturers will have the confidence because knowledge is universal and so we must maintain the autonomy of our tertiary institutions,” he noted.
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