The Academic Staff Associations (ASAs) of the University of Sierra Leone, Njala University, and Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology has presented salary review documents to the Committee Framework for Engagement on Conditions of Service.
The Committee Framework for Engagement on Conditions of Services was set up by the Government to work collectively with all university heads and the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education on finding a solution to the lecturer’s industrial strike action.
The lecturers of the universities mentioned above have been on an industrial strike action since 2020 demanding a 100 percent salary increment and other conditions of services. The Vice president of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, met with the university lecturers on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, but no amicable solution was reached after the meeting.
The documents presented to the Committee Framework on Conditions of Services reinstate the position of ASAs of the various universities for 100 percent salary increment and other demands which includes the following below:
- The full payment of staff salary instead of the fragmentation arrangement instituted by the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education.
- Salaries and allowances of academic staff must be renegotiated and improved every three years.
- The inclusion of 17 COMAHS staff into the government payroll.
- Speedy payment of ex gratia to retired lecturers.
- Payment of increment to lecturers confirmed and promoted since 2019.
- Payment of backlog to newly appointed staff.
- Equipping the universities with teaching and e-learning facilities to ensure quality education. The university must be equipped with laboratories to ensure that students have hands-on experience.
- Urgent rehabilitation and expansion of campuses (infrastructure and basic amenities including staff quarters, staff offices, lecture rooms, etc. A rehabilitation plan should be put in place to be done quarterly.
- Staff development- the enabling environment must be provided for staff to receive further training especially those that will lead to the attainment of terminal degrees.
- Adoption of the new harmonized conditions of service for USL, Njala University, and EBKUST.
University students are yet to resume academic lectures for the 2021/2022 academic year and final year students are also affected leaving them uncertain of their fate when they shall complete their verification process and prepare for graduation. Last year, schools and universities were interrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and students had to switch to online learning methods.
ASAs further highlighted there is a need to attract more lecturers as the universities are in acute brain drain and the profession is not attractive because many lecturers are leaving in search of better salaries in the private sector or international organizations. ASAs further compared that professors in the subregion can earn a minimum a take-home salary of $5,000.