Sunyani, May 8, GNA- Tension is mounting at the campuses of the various Polytechnics over the delay of government to give mandate to the standing Joint Negotiating Committee and conference of Polytechnic Principals to start negotiations with unionized staff.
Dr Kwasi Nsiah-Gyabaah, Principal of Sunyani Polytechnic said at the weekend during the polytechnic's first congregation in Sunyani. One thousand eight hundred and thirty seven graduands, made up of 1,483 males and 354 females forming five batches who successfully completed studies from 1999 to 2003 were presented with diplomas and certificates.
Among the courses studied were marketing, accountancy, electrical engineering, building technology, catering and management. The Principal said the situation, if not properly and quickly addressed could lead to further agitations and the disruption of academic work.
"The problem of frequent agitations for salary increase and improvement in conditions of services could only be solved if the polytechnics are recognized as tertiary institutions and staff are placed with the same qualifications on appropriate salaries and allowances within the tertiary system," he cautioned. Dr Nsiah-Gyabaah stressed that the approach would enable the polytechnics to recruit and retain more qualified and experienced staff to run the institutions, as inadequate staffing had been the greatest challenge in the polytechnics.
"The polytechnics are not able to attract and retain qualified and experienced staff because of low salaries and as a result, the universities and the private sector are attracting the few qualified and experienced staff", he added.
Dr Nsiah-Gyabaah appealed to the business community, financial institutions, benevolent organizations and capable individuals to invest in the provision of staff accommodation and in expanding of facilities and infrastructure to enable polytechnics to admit more qualified students.
Government alone cannot provide all the needed resources for the polytechnics to fulfil their mandate, he said and urged all stakeholders to supplement government efforts to develop infrastructure and the supply of training equipment.
The Principal called on the government to establish a technical institution in Brong Ahafo to serve as the primary source of recruitment into the polytechnic.
Dr Nsiah-Gyabaah noted that the upgrading and transformation of Sunyani Technical Institute into a polytechnic had created a big gap in the region's complement of resources for technical education. As a result of this gap, the polytechnic recruits more than 70 percent of its students from other regions, he said.
Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State in-charge of Tertiary Education, who stood in for President J.A. Kufour, commended leaders of POTAG and TEWU for the patience and maturity they had displayed in negotiations.
She said there had been a firm assurance from the Ministry of Finance that negotiations would begin on Tuesday, May 10, this year, Adding that the government appreciated the efforts of polytechnic teachers and urged them to continue with their sacrifice and numerous contributions in providing the best human resource in the country. The Minister asked the graduands, students and teachers to be aware of their intrinsic role in Ghana's aspiration to become a middle-income country and urged the graduands to put up their best at their workplaces to convince employers that they were worth employing.
Ms Ohene gave assurance that money and resources would be made available for the expansion and improvement of projects on campuses of polytechnics.
Professor Emmanuel K. Agyei, Chairman of the Polytechnic Council appealed to government to address the problem of poor conditions of services for staff of polytechnics.
"The delays and disagreements over salaries and conditions of services during and after negotiations often create unnecessary and disrupt smooth academic work," he said.
He stressed that frequent interruptions of academic and dislocation of the academic calendar had created the erroneous impression that the polytechnics were institutions of instability and militancy.
Prof Agyei advised the graduands to accept the challenges and frustrations at workplaces and stand firm to emerge victorious. "The training in practical skills has given you the needed technical know-how to effectively contribute your quota towards the nation's development", he said.
The Council Chairman stated: "Your training has been made possible through the good effort of the Ghanaian taxpayer and the government has spent a lot of resources and you owe the sate a duty to work hard in your chosen careers to satisfy the human resource requirement of the country".