You may recall that, sometime in 2021, the President of the nation, His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo stated that “teaching does not pay, [and that] if they (teachers) want more money, they should find a side job.” This statement was one that saw both teachers and non-teachers reacting negatively to it.
In that same year, 2021, the University Teacher’s Association of Ghana (UTAG) embarked on a strike to demand better conditions of service. They were called as usual and convinced by the National Labour Commission (NLC) to return to the lecture halls with the assurance that their plights will be resolved.
The year 2022 began on a rather sad note; right from the beginning of the year, strikes came from left, right, centre, everywhere, beginning with the anaesthetists, colleges of education, now, the same teachers who were promised of being sorted have struck again.
On January 10, 2022, university teachers embarked on another nationwide strike in demand of the same thing they have been asking for – better conditions of service.
The Colleges of Education Teachers Association of Ghana (CETAG) also joined the strike later.
Three days into the strike, the NLC summoned CETAG and UTAG, over what was to be a negotiation which turned out to be a somewhat dictatorship meeting. The NLC said the teachers going on strike is “illegal,” hence, they should call it off and get back to the classrooms (an order).
The teachers, feeling they are being disrespected and disregarded, paid deaf ears to the “order” and for 3 weeks and counting, the strike is still ongoing.
CETAG subsequently called off its strike after its demands reflected in the January salaries of its members, but that of UTAG lingers on.
There are indications that the universities may shut down soon if the UTAG strike is not called off immediately.
Effect on first-year students
First-year students who just got admitted into the various universities, aside the headache of getting accommodation, one which is almost always a hurdle for most university students, have to think of medicine for an additional headache of not even knowing who their lecturers are nor when to get to lecture halls for lectures.
Sadly, they are stranded, as they don’t know their left from their right on campus as freshmen.
To add to the pain, a first-year student of the University of Ghana lost his life owing to him paying deaf ears to warnings of not swimming in the 21st feet of the University’s pool last week.
On continuing students
Continuing students (in levels 200,300 & 400), also have their own set of frustrations.
To think one has planned and prepared for the academic year, the semester, and particularly the 400s, being the final year, where project works would come in before the end of semester exams and all, the time allocated for these things would be distorted.
It would turn out that the semester may become longer or rushed, which may not be so good for the minds of students. Plans people have after school within a set time are likely to shatter.
The NLC dragged UTAG to court, seeking an interlocutory injunction from the High Court in Accra to get the lecturers back to the classrooms. The hearing, which was slated for February 3, 2022, came off, but the stakeholders were ordered to settle their dispute out of court.
NLC has summoned UTAG and government to a ‘make or break’ meeting on Monday, February 7, 2022, in a bid to resolve the impasse.
As a continuing student enduring the brunt of the strike, I urge the NLC and the government to do everything possible, including meeting the demands of UTAG, so university teachers could return to the lecture halls as soon as possible.