LET’S DIALOGUE OVER POST – RETIREMENT CONTRACTS

THE government has given notice that effective October 31, 2018, all lecturers on post-retirement contract beyond 65 years in public universities would no longer be on government payroll.

According to the new policy, universities should be prepared to pay the lecturers from their internally generated funds, if they engage the retired professors.

The directive appears to be in line with the thinking of the Auditor-General, Daniel Yao Domelevo who had argued that the engagement of retirees on contract is a drain on the treasury.

“The engagement of the retirees is not only putting financial burden on the government as beneficiaries receive double income as pensioner and salaried worker but also prevent the employment of  fresh graduates coming out of school” he said.

Although Mr Domelevo’s concern is generally about contract staff in both public and civil service who are on government payroll, the directive coincides with his position on all post retirement contracts.

However, the policy has provoked a wave of protests from the universities and the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), who hold entirely different view on the matter.

While the University of Ghana (UG) is protesting the decision and describing it as a threat to ever dwindling staffing position of the universities, the UTAG on the other hand, is appealing to the government to rescind the decision, saying, the directive would put post-graduate studies in jeopardy.

“If post retirement contracts are forcefully terminated now, it will create crisis in the public universities as there will be fewer lecturers to take on the ever increasing enrollment in the universities.

The UTAG points out further that, “if the directive is carried out by October 31, 2018, those who will be affected will be the finest professors and associate professors on post retirement contract.

It explained that all over the world, there were many reasons for keeping ageing professors as staff of universities and maintained that the universities could not pay the salaries of professors on contract from internally generated funds.

“This is absolutely impossible. The directive poses danger to the quality of university education in the country,” it said.

Indeed, weighing the arguments of the government and the universities, it is difficult to take a rigid position on this matter.

If one were to support the government position it means that universities must generate enough internally generated funds to pay the contract staff.

What this means is the generating of more revenue than they are currently doing and, one of the ways to do that is to pass on the burden to students and parents.

In that cost of education at the university level would go up and that may create more hardship for parents.

On the other hand, the public purse is already burdened by the large number of post-retirement contract staff and therefore, cannot continue to support payment of salaries of the contract staff.

Both ways, there is merit in the positions held by the government and the university community.

The Ghanaian Times therefore, urges the government and the all stakeholders to engage and dialogue further in order to resolve the issues.

This way, the country would be protecting teaching and learning at tertiary level as well as protecting the nation’s coffers.

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