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Sierra Leone News: Njala reopens amid lectures’ strike

Njala University has on Monday April 20 commenced operations but on the sad note that its lecturers have gone on strike.
The college, like other academic institutions, closed down during the outbreak of the deadly ebola virus disease that has killed over 3, 000 Sierra Leoneans and devastated the country’s socio-economic milieu.
The Lecturers, all members of the Academic Staff Association (ASA) are demanding that the Principal and Vice Chancellor, Professor Abu Sesay resigns his office and they are postulating various reasons to substantiate this demand which includes: his poor leadership style, poor administration; dilapidating state of college furniture and poor enabling classroom environments, poor state of laboratories and science equipment, poor allowances and emoluments, etc.
The lecturers say until Professor Sesay vacates the office as Principal, the Association maintains that they will not cooperate with him.
The Association further based their resolve on the premise that the “VC/P’s loss of authority over the academic staff” citing a meeting of the association on the 14th April at which 87 lecturers within the organization voted for the motion that the Principal be sacked from his position, while only 8 voted against the motion with 2 abstaining, according to the striking lecturers is enough evidence to strongly demand the resignation or sacking of the current principal because they further maintained, “he now has no moral authority as he has lost the confidence of his staff,”
Furthermore, ASA argues on the assertion that the principal has “specific disregard for academic staff; sustained deception in the face of obvious evidence; reprisal actions and reign of terror” along with other reasons.
The University Court has however intervened in the impasse without finding a specific ground. The Alumni Association has also mediated with no success.
The last but not the least to arbitrate the deadlock is the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Education headed by Hon. Leonard Fofanah and this too has failed to yield any fruits.
Despite the current impasse, Professor Abu Sesay requested that the lecturers return to their classes on Monday 20th April which somehow never happened.
Students meanwhile have begun arriving on the two Njala campuses to start registration and getting ready for lectures.
At the Bo Campus meanwhile, everything was at a standstill and at the Bo-Kowama Campus save for students carrying out registration.
On the Kowama campus only 9 out of 21 Lecturers as the Dean Prof. Bashiru Koroma told Awoko came to school on the said date of reopening. He said that he went to class but only find three students which led him to call off the class.
He however took time to explain to Awoko that “The University is not opening at any normal time.” With the students having begun arrival he however said that he cannot give any exact date as to when things will get to normalcy. “The lecturers strike is an uncalled for situation and we need to resolve this impasse.” He however added that both parties involved in the problem are “laying on their ego and which is making this thing difficult to solve.” That notwithstanding, he stated to Awoko that the University Policy states that “If a Lecturer does not go to class for three consecutive times, a disciplinary action should be taken against him.
The Bo-Towama campus however had pockets of classes that went on with everything not withstanding.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr Bob Conteh told Awoko that “we have reopened for well and for good.” He however told Awoko that it was only 8 Lecturers that reported for duty but mainly in the Banking and Finance Faculty of the Social Sciences Department.
The students on the other hand who chose to remain anonymous explained to Awoko that “this problem needs to be solved, else it is going to affect us and which will force us to intervene.”
Students at the Bo-Towama Campus cried to Awoko: “How can we restart when there are no chairs, no toilets, no light and a lot of other essentials?”
The exclaimed that they are paying very high fees than all the other students on the other campus but that, “we are not enjoying any facility.”
The President of ASA, Turad Senesie told Awoko, “We have taken the policy of non-compliance and it remains so.”
By Jenkins Bawoh
Wednesday April 22, 2015

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