NUC Challenges Undue Interference into University Governance

Government through the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE) has described the Universities Act 2005 as ‘not beneficial to the development of education’ in Sierra Leone and therefore needs to be reviewed, declared Deputy Minister, MTHE Dr. Turad Senesie whiles addressing a weekly press conference at the Ministry of Information and Communications.
Passed in 2005 by Parliament and asserted by the late former President, Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the Act made provisions for the establishment of other private and public universities in the country.
For the present government, everything inherited must be changed by all means for the better though the betterment is still far-fetched yet in almost every sector of governance irrespective of the fact that other key players are not consulted on what is happening.
It is indeed good to acknowledge the good works of one’s predecessors whenever policy makers and implementers are making statements of what was inherited from their predecessors, especially in this area of reviewing the Universities Act 2005 in which Senessie and his government have made some administrative blunders by damning the law under review and amended.
But Njala University academic professionals have decided not to cooperate with the ministry even when the review has been claimed to be temporal. They have frowned at unwarranted influences and interferences in the appointment of who runs the affairs of Njala University by the Ministry of Higher Education into the administrative dealings of the university, whereas the Act gives the university autonomy.
The ministry is also said to have gone ahead in appointing or designing directives on how to get lecturers to take over administrative positions from the current heads of the university to which Njala University says is completely against the Universities Act 2005.
The move is being widely criticized by the public more so in the aspect of government ignoring every laid down procedures they met in place to suit its own comfort as the powers that be.
The review by the ministry comes in as part of government’s over all proposed reforms of the education sector promised by President Dr. Julius Maada Bio and his ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), during his presidential campaigns in 2012 and 2018.
The Universities Act 2005 now being broadly discredited by the present administration as if previous governments did nothing in the sector, also terminated monopolies traditional Universities had enjoyed over the years.
Records also have it that most of the past and present governments senior executives are beneficiaries of the Universities Act 2005, but they are now trying to review it on the grounds that it does not serve the development interests of higher education.
The process is said to be at an advanced stage with the first phase already hurriedly done as in the words of Senesie who now cares less about the concerns of his former colleagues at Njala University, but his personality gap coupled with his present status as minister continues to keep himself away from his colleagues.
And that is not helping the situation in any way, nor the government at all in the continuing saga between Njala University and the Higher Education Ministry.
Consequently, the continuing development is having serious setbacks to the process if needful contributions from Njala University Academic Staff Association and other stakeholders including lecturers, senior lecturers, assistant lecturers, researchers and professors as well as academic administrators, are not well factored into the very review exercise.
The controversy is as a result delaying everything about the amendment of the Universities Act 2005, as against the much anticipated urgency being duly attached to it by higher education ministry and government.
Nonetheless who takes the lead from there to engage who, Njala University or the line ministry which is a major concern bordering critical academic minds across the nation, with the public apprehensively waiting to see.

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