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Colleges must open now!

Colleges must open now!

Since October 2011, constituent colleges of the University of Sierra Leone, comprising Fourah Bay College, COMAHS and IPAM have remained closed to academic work. Reason: academic staff of these colleges have refused to lecture because the university and the government have failed to address their long term grievances relating to their welfare.

The lecturers were demanding an improvement in their pay package which the government had promised them since the last academic year.

Negotiations after negotiation have taken place with the relevant bodies in order to address the lecturers’ demand. When the affected lecturers realized that the negotiations were not bearing any fruit, they issued a 21-days strike notice to the university, hoping that their intended action will spur the government to resolve their issue.

The strike notice lapsed without the lecturers achieving anything. The last option open to them was to down tools, as the case may be.

Now, the effect of the indefinite closure of colleges in Freetown is taking its toll on the other stakeholders, principally the students who are fast losing their patience. Those most affected are the final year students in these colleges who barely have one semester left to face their exams, having almost lost their first semester lectures.

At the centre of the crisis is the Education Minister, Minkailu Bah who they say lacks any regard for his colleague lecturers (himself once a lecturer).

We have also observed the insensitivity of the minister to the concerns of the general public with regards the indefinite closure of the colleges and the concomitant effect on the general body of students.

It is no surprise therefore that some section of the populace have begun to demand his dismissal. It is also no exaggeration to suggest that the man is incompetent and a disappointment to President Koroma’s agenda for change.

We however continue to appeal to the lecturers to show some understanding, if not for anything else but for the sake of the poor students who are keen on progressing with their class work. Time is no longer on their side.

We plead with striking lecturers to resume lectures while their concerns are being addressed. That is all we ask for from the aggrieved staff in the interest of peace and national development.

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