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General News of Monday, 23 August 2021

Source: GNA

UTAG’s strike caused more harm to us than government–Students

UTAG last week agreed to call off their strike and enter negotiations with government UTAG last week agreed to call off their strike and enter negotiations with government

Students of some public universities have expressed worry about the strike by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), as they bear the brunt and not members of the government.

When the Ghana News Agency interacted with some students on Monday August 23, Ms Diana Owusuaa, a level 200 student of the University of Cape Coast, studying Laboratory Technology, said the action by UTAG affected them and their entire families greatly.

“I feel the lecturers did not think about us because they should have laid their grievances before the government when we went on vacation and not when we came back to school.

“We didn’t even spend up to a month and they went on strike so it has really affected us. Now, we don’t know if they are coming to put pressure on us to write exams at once, believing we learnt when they were on strike.

“Our parents knew we were coming to spend three months in school and they gave us money and provisions for that time frame. But now that we have been in the hostel, we have already consumed more of them for nothing. Now our parents might be forced to get us more in case they extend the time of our stay in school,” she said.

Ms Anastasia Okrah, a level 200 student of the Ghana Technology University College, who bemoaned the long period of the strike, said the action left them a lot of backlogs to cover with academics.

“We haven’t done much this semester. We were writing mid-semester exams when they went on strike, so we wrote about three papers out of six, and we don’t know whether they will pile them up on us at the end of the semester now that they have resumed or make us continue to write it.

“The lecturers didn’t think of us. I don’t know how the system works with UTAG but I think next time, they should take another alternative to get their grievances addressed because the strike did us harm and not the government,” she added.

Ms Tracy Otu, a level 200 Agriculture Science student of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), said students had not been told to get back to the lecture hall.

“We haven’t been told anything so we don’t know what’s happening now. We were supposed to write exams the week after the strike and vacate last Friday but because of the strike, we are still here.

“I’m tired of not doing nothing for this long. We were preparing for exams and they went on strike so everybody stopped learning and we didn’t know they will call off the strike at the last hour,” she said.

Ms Otu prayed that students would be allowed to vacate and write the examination online.

However on the part of Mr Theophilus Lartey, a level 400 Bachelor of Arts in Education student from the University of Ghana (UG), the strike did him some good as he was able to study most of the topics he had not covered for their exams which was postponed from Saturday August 7, 2021 to Wednesday August 25, 2021 as a result of the strike.

“The strike has helped me a lot because I’ve been able to cover many topics I had not studied. We had six weeks of teaching and learning which was a short period so the strike helped me to cover many topics. However, I don’t know whether we are going to start our national service right away in September or not since studies and exams have delayed,” he noted.

Another female level 100 student studying Accounting at the UG, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said although the strike had delayed their studies and a lot had still not been captured, she used the period of the strike to learn.

The Ghana News Agency observed that students at the University of Ghana were running a shift system and at the time of the visit on Monday morning, level 400 and 100 students were preparing for their exams, while level 200 and 300 students were on vacation waiting for their turn.

At the KNUST, there had been a revised time table directing students to observe the period from August 25 to 31, 2021 as a revision week and September 1 to 17, 2021 as an End-of-Second Semester Examination period.

Members of UTAG from August 2, 2021 laid down their teaching tools and stayed off teaching, examinations and invigilation, marking of examination scripts and processing of results.

The decision to embark on an industrial strike, according to the National Executive Committee of the Association from a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency and signed by its National President Professor Charles Marfo, was borne out of the government’s refusal to heed the Association’s calls to improve their worsening conditions of service.

It included the research component of the Book and Research Allowance, market premium, and non-basic allowance.