Information gathered by the Ghanaian Times has it that there is the feeling of tension, apprehension and worry among students of the public universities across the country.
The psychological malady is particularly higher among first-year students, who are yet to experience university life, especially the teaching and learning aspects.
This is all due to the strike embarked upon by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) since January 10, this year over unresolved grievances regarding their conditions of service.
To say that strike by the UTAG has become an annual ritual is an understatement because sometimes it is repeated in the same year or at short intervals.
For instance, on January 10, 2021, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association resolved to withdraw teaching and related activities with immediate effect over the failure of the government to restore the conditions of service agreed upon in 2012.
The 2012 conditions of service pegged the Basic plus Market Premium of a lecturer at $2,084.42.
UTAG has complained that the current arrangement has reduced its members’ basic premiums to $997.84.
With the same grievance and others hanging unresolved, the university teachers embarked on another strike from the beginning of August 2021.
It’s unfortunate the same grievances have led to the current industrial action.
The truth is that UTAG has it as a right to embark on a strike to protest what it describes as poor conditions of service, but how it goes and how it is handled is what is at issue.
The current strike is unique in its own right for one reason or another.
It begins right from day one of an academic year whose calendar is in place to run for a certain period but has not been allowed to running.
For instance, in the case of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), lectures should have started on January 17, 2022, mid-semester examinations from February 28 till March 4, first semester examinations from April 7 to 22 followed by break for a about three weeks.
Then the second semester lectures open on May 16 and second semester examination from August 8 to 20, when the school breaks till October 21, with the next academic year starting with the arrival of continuing students on October 29, 2022.
Even if the UTAG strike is called off today, definitely the calendar cannot be followed and so must be reviewed for some two important reasons.
The freshmen should be given enough time to get acclimatized to the university life.
Besides, particularly in the case of the numerous fee-paying students, parents have paid huge sums for their children and they must get the benefit of such amounts.
It will be a serious aberration, should lectures be compressed and delivered over a shorter period.
Already, there are problems with standards even when the correct length of the semester is adhered to.
The perennial UTAG strikes have implications for standard of university education in the country, so whatever needs to be done should be done to save the situation.
One can conjecture that bureaucracy, that faceless creature, and the insensitivity of certain public officials, who think they have arrived, are the causes of the current situation.
In fact, both the students and their parents or guardians are in the situation of suffering psychologically and financially, while the time of the young people, the students, is being unnecessarily wasted.
There are huge implications here for the individual students, their families and the country, but it seems the powers that be are glossing over this.
It is the hope of the Ghanaian Times that all those whose voices and actions carry weight in this matter would take the necessary steps to resolve the UTAG grievances to save the students, their families and the whole nation further feeling of tension and apprehension.