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Non- teaching staff not enjoying book and research allowance – UTAG insists

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has denied media reports that non-teaching staff of tertiary institutions are on the payroll for the book and research allowance.

The Herald Newspaper on Wednesday claimed that non-teaching university staff including senior librarians, senior transport officers, cleaners, senior watchmen, secretaries and estate officers all benefit from the book and research allowance.

The payment of the allowance has become a bone of contention between the government and lecturers in tertiary institutions for months over government’s decision to scrap it.

Government plans to replace the book and research allowance with National Research Fund where lecturers would have to apply for funding for their research.

But the lecturers insist that scrapping the allowance will negatively affect their jobs in the classrooms. The disagreement has led to industrial action by the lecturers.

Members of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) withdrew their services about two months ago while UTAG members joined the strike about two weeks ago.

The lecturers have refused to return to the classroom despite assurances from the Education Ministry that the monies will be paid.

The academic calendar of the polytechnics has been disrupted as school authorities were forced to close down the institutions.

Currently, some universities across the country have indefinitely postponed their re-opening date partly due to the UTAG strike.

Responding to the Herald newspaper publication on the Citi Breakfast Show, the President of the University of Ghana (UG) branch of UTAG, Dr. Langbon Bimi said the report is “entirely untrue, it’s false.”

He explained that there are two allowances, the book allowance and the research allowance with the former being paid to all senior members of public universities while the latter is to teaching staff.

“There are just two categories of recognized groups; UTAG, that’s those who teach and then GAUA, [Ghana Association of University Administrators] so to talk of cleaners and drivers and all that is untrue,” he said.

According to Dr. Bimi, before payments are made, there is a rigorous process which is duly followed by the Education Ministry and the Finance Ministry.

He clarified that the Education Ministry “alerts the Ministry of Finance to get the exchange rate of the dollar component, then a letter is written to the public universities to prepare the claims. These are audited by the Auditor General.”

“So to make this claim, I don’t know where that is coming from,” insisting that for verification, the newspaper can contact the various public universities the National Council for Tertiary Education and the Ministry of Finance.

The book and research allowance is to help in the acquisition of basic tools for lecturing and also aid the publication work of lectures.

The University of Ghana UTAG president added that it is imperative for lecturers to have access to the allowances “so that we can have job progression.”

By: Efua Idan Osam/citifmonline.com/Ghana

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