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University Academic Staff Threatens Strike Action in Sierra Leone
Oct 9, 2008, 17:20
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The Academic Staff Association of Njala University is threatening a strike action against the University administration if immediate action is not taken to solve the impasse that has resulted from the suspension of programmes at the University by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

A strongly worded letter addressed to the Acting Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University disclosed that a twenty one day strike notice effective Wednesday October 8, 2008 has been issued by the Academic Staff Association to the University for a resolution of the contradiction between Njala University and the Tertiary Education Commission.

The letter says the Association has been quietly observing the ongoing controversy between the University and the Commission.

"We are privy to all correspondences including reports of the Committee of Deans set up by Senate and the Court/TEC committee which was instituted by the University Court to specifically examine the report of the Committee of Deans and other issues pertaining to the suspension of the programmes by the Tertiary Education Commission," the letter states, adding that the Association is greatly perturbed by the prolonged delay in laying the issue to rest.

"We foresee grim impacts not only on the integrity of the University but also on the present students already enrolled in the programmes and the prospective students who have already applied in them and have been interviewed," the letter states.

The Academic Staff Association says it perceives the action by the TEC and some other stakeholders to be negative to all staff, students, the institution itself, and most importantly, the nation.

"It has also been collectively agreed that during this strike notice period, members of the Academic Staff Association will not participate in any of the activities and events of the University," the letter states.

It could be recalled that the Tertiary Education Commission few months ago suspended some postgraduate courses offered at Njala University on grounds of staffing capacity and other matters of staff competence and availability.

However, Public Relations Officer of the Njala University’s Academic Staff Association, Mr. Turad Senesie told Awareness Times that it is not the responsibility of the Commission to initiate the commencement of a programme in the University.

"They have no right to stop the programme," he claimed, adding that the argument over staff capacity put forward by the Tertiary Education Commission as the basis for the suspension of the said programmes is a "complete nonsense and rubbish."

Senesie says the Commission never followed the procedures and protocols in investigating the issue.

"They took a decision without crosschecking the facts and we believe they are just assuming," he says, adding that it is insulting to the world of academia for people who are not trained to supervise a science university to take upon the task to do so by themselves.

"People have a colonial mentality and orientation with regards the functioning of a university," Senesie says, adding that it is unprecedented for historians to assume the responsibility of assessing courses offered in a science university.

Efforts to get the Officials of the Tertiary Education Commission to comment on the issue proved unsuccessful.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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