27th April 2017
Njala University is More of a Political Institution than an Educational One!!
By a press release (29/03/17)
Observers believe the recent students imbroglio at Njala University in Sierra Leone is more politically motivated than it is educational.
Njala, like most other government sub-vented institutions, enjoys government assistance through student fee subsidies at a higher percentage. The Ministry of Education, and by extension the government, does not pay salaries of lecturers nor negotiate their conditions of service. (Pictured: Education Minister Dr. Minkailu Bah).
Sub-vented institutions utilise student subsidised fee money as well as internally generated resources to run their institutions. The University Court, to which the Ministry of Education is only represented, negotiates salaries and any other emolument of lecturers or the academic staff.
The respective institutional administrations would sometimes negotiate with their academic staff associations and make promises to improve salaries or conditions of service on the assumption that they would fulfil such promises using student subsidies from government and assumed internally generated funds. This is partly the case with Njala University.
In 2012 Njala University, after promising to improve the conditions of service and salaries of their academic staff, failed to do so because they were financially strapped. They turned to government and asked for a bailout of 8 billion Leones, which government, after negotiations, decided to pay.
Keep in mind that government did not owe Njala this money but being a caring government decided to step in. Over the years, the institution had been entering into loan agreements with different financial institutions to undertake several projects internally.
These loans and accrued interests over the years have now posed serious financial burden on the institution which has made it impossible for them to meet their promised obligation of 20 billion Leones to their academic staff, for which they are now asking for another bailout by government.
During austerity times like these, government finds it impossible to come to Njala's aid this time around. Hence, the sit down strike by the lecturers for nearly 90 days now and consequently the demonstrations by the students.
The lecturers are asking for a 400% salary increase, improved conditions of service and other allowances which all amounted to the 20 billion Leones bailout that the administration is requesting from government on their behalf.
Independent observers are certain, the problems at Njala is politically motivated to give the ruling APC government a bad name.