By: Juliana Vandy
Strategic Communications Unit,
Ministry of Information and Communications
The Honourable Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, on 19th January 2021 met with heads and members of associations of Universities and Polytechnics to discuss sustainable resolution regarding their conditions of service at the new multi-purpose complex at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone.
It could be recalled that government through the Office of the Vice President has been making frantic efforts to resolve issues surrounding the welfare of academic staff of tertiary institutions since President Bio took office two years ago.
Addressing a representative body of ASA, Vice President Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh stated that quality education is a priority to his government as one of the New Direction government’s manifesto commitment is the provision of quality education for all Sierra Leoneans regardless of socio-cultural affiliation or background.
He noted that as a government passionate about transforming the human capital of the country they have decided to prioritize education. That is why, he went on, President Julius Maada Bio has committed 22% of the national budget to education.
He continued that when they came to power in 2018 there was staff strength of two thousand eight hundred and fifty-four in all public universities and polytechnics across the country. “By 2020 the figure went up to three thousand one hundred and eighty-nine,” the Vice President disclosed, adding that when this figure was two thousand eight hundred and forty-four in 2019, the money government spent was one hundred and sixty seven billion four hundred and eighty million Leones. “When the total staff strength moved to three thousand one hundred and eighty-nine, government spent one hundred and eighty eight billion four hundred and sixty six million Leones.”
According to Vice President Juldeh Jalloh, every lecturer in all public universities and polytechnics will receive 25% salary increase effective 1st April 2021. He furthered that when the 25% in the 2021 budget is factored in their salaries the projected government expenditure on salaries for lecturers will be two hundred and thirty five billion five hundred and eighty Leones.
Dr Juldeh Jalloh affirmed that the Julius Maada Bio led government remained committed to creating a Sierra Leonean platform where every Sierra Leonean regardless of their socio-cultural background will go to school, have a decent job and a decent pay.
He said that the purpose of the meeting was to ensure that they fill the blocks for sustainable resolution; in essence creating the kind of academic atmosphere the New Direction government wants to see in Sierra Leone. He opined that a qualified and motivated work force comes with a price and encouraged all lecturers to return to work as government continues negotiations to address issues surrounding their conditions of service.
The President of ASA-USL, Dr. Williet James highlighted some of their concerns ranging from low salary scale to other welfare situations affecting not only lecturers but also students.
Prof. Edwin Momoh representing polytechnics expressed similar sentiments and urged government to improve the learning environment, saying the libraries and laboratories are nothing to write home about.
He however commended the Bio led administration for paying salaries to lecturers promptly and expressed hope that government will address issues surrounding their conditions of service.