The Minister of State-in-charge of Tertiary Education, Prof. Kwesi Yankah, has announced the release of GH¢45 million for the payment of Book and Research Allowances of lecturers in public universities in the country for the 2016/2017 academic year.
The amount, which constitutes a major part of the funds earmarked in the 2017 budget, according to the Minister, forms part of the commitment to ensuring that research becomes the driving force of the development agenda of the government.
He appealed to lecturers not to disrupt academic activities in the various universities, but create a conducive environment for effective teaching and learning.
According to him, plans were also underway by government to establish a Research Fund to enable universities in the country effectively undertake special research projects and innovation.
Prof. Kwesi Yankah made this known while speaking to newly constituted heads of governing councils of the various public universities in the country.
Recently, the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) gave a two-week ultimatum to government to swiftly resolve concerns over the appointment of governing Councils of universities and also delay in the payment of the Book and Research Allowances.
UTAG, which gave the warning after a meeting with the Vice Chancellors of Ghana, expressed their discontent with the recent disputes surrounding the book and research allowances which they believed contributed to the undue delay in the disbursement of the funds.
They revealed that the government has had enough time to do all the necessary consultations and alignments necessary for the disbursement of the funds.
The association expressed worry that a month to the commencement of a new academic year, government hasn’t released the funds.
This, according to them, may have dire consequences for teaching and learning.
“UTAG is unhappy with the undue delay in the processes leading to the payment of the allowances. Having in mind that the Hon. Minister of Education announced as far back as February 2017 that it is incomprehensible and for that matter unacceptable that payment has not been effected to date. It is instructive to note that the 2017/2018 academic year begins in August and the demand for the Book and Research allowance beckons,” Dr. Harry Agbanu, National President of UTAG said while addressing the media after the meeting with the Vice Chancellors of Ghana.
As a result, the association issued a two-week ultimatum to government to address their concerns or face the consequences.
However, before the expiration of the ultimatum, government gave directive for the funds to be disbursed.
The National President of UTAG, who spoke to an Accra-based media outlet on Saturday, was of the view that the directive for the release of the funds would help improve the standard of education in the country.
“It’s good news to us that indeed government had released the first part of the amount they pay to our members as their book and research allowances…but we are happy that he (government) has started releasing funds for the book and research allowances,” he stated.
He expressed optimism that government would fulfill its promises to Ghanaians soon.
“Although the process for the funds to get to the coffers of the lectures might be cumbersome, it would be done within a shortest possible time, he opined.