Non-Teachers Don’t Enjoy Book Allowance

UTAGThe 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.

Media reports yesterday indicated 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, the lecturers have opposed the move.

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.

Responding to the media report on Citifm yesterday, President of the University of Ghana (UG) branch of UTAG, Dr. Langbon Bimi said the report “is entirely untrue.”

He explained that there were 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.

Meanwhile the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) has explained that the research and book allowance does not fall under the four categories of allowances listed under the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

The Chief Executive of the Commission, Smith Graham, stated that any allowance which does not fall under the four main categories of allowances is considered a “salary top-up.”

He pointed out that a critical look at the research and book allowance indicates that it is an employment tool to help tertiary teachers effectively perform their duties.

“The research and book allowance is very important to the lecturer because it is part of the academic work that they do in terms of their promotion and everything, but at the end of the day, it is a tool that government is providing,” he said.

Citing an example, Mr. Graham mentioned that “if the institution has provided for instance, an e-library facility that you can go there and access all the books… the employer cannot give you any allowance to go and buy any books again.

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

According to Dr. Bimi, before payments were 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.”

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

By Times Reporter

 

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