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UTAG says no to scrapping of book/research allowance

BY: Salomey Appiah / Daily Graphic / Ghana

University lecturers have stated that the government’s decision to scrap teachers’ book and research allowance is unacceptable.

They said although they were not against the creation of a national research fund, such a facility should not replace their book and research allowance.

In an interview in Accra yesterday, the President of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), Dr Samuel Ofori Bekoe, said “the UTAG will not accept the replacement of the book and research allowance”.

He said UTAG had already sent a letter spelling out the grievances of members to the government and was yet to get a reply, which would determine its next line of action. 

Dr Bekoe was reacting to the release of GH¢3.75 million by the government for the establishment of a research and innovation facility for tertiary institutions. 

Background 

On February 2, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning announced the release of GH¢3.75 million for the establishment of a research and innovation facility.  

Consequently, the ministry authorised the Controller and Accountant General to open an account for the facility and transfer the amount into it.

A statement issued by the public relations unit of the ministry said the amount represented 25 per cent of the GH¢15 million set aside in the 2014 Budget Statement and Economic Policy for the purpose.

It was announced in the 2014 Budget Statement that to encourage more research work in tertiary institutions and to realise its full benefits, the government had decided to review the existing system of payment of book and research allowances and replace it with a research facility.

At the National Executive Council meeting of UTAG at Sogakope held from January 22 to January 25, this year, the association restated its position on the issue in a communique it issued at the end of the event.

UTAG not against facility

In that communiqué, UTAG said it was not against the creation of the research and innovation facility for tertiary institutions, because it was lecturers who mooted the idea for the establishment of a national research fund in 2006 to serve as a complementary fund to the book and research allowance.

They said the national fund was not to replace the book and research allowance, contending that the national research fund and the book and research allowance could complement each other.

“While UTAG is not against the creation of a national research fund, it does neither believe nor accept that it is appropriate to replace the book and research allowance with such a fund,” it said.

Involve UTAG

The communiqué said UTAG was not pleased with the government for failing to officially engage UTAG on the issues concerning the abolition of the book and research allowance and the establishment of the national research fund.

It described the government’s decision as unilateral, adding that it was “an act in bad faith”.

“Since the book and research allowance is tied to the university lecturers’ condition of service and was introduced as a result of the collective decision by both the government and UTAG, its abolition cannot be a unilateral decision, as such the action would have implications on the overall conditions of service of the university lecturer,” it stated.

Consequences 

The communiqué further stated that the objectives for the introduction of the book and research allowance was more relevant currently, due to the large numbers of students admitted to the public universities, which had increased the research burden on the lecturers in terms of theses and project supervision.

“If the government goes ahead with the proposed abolition of the book and research allowance, it will have grave implications for the future of the public universities in Ghana,” it said.