ULFA ‘Goes Slow’ but GoL Urges Reconsideration

ULFA ‘Goes Slow’ but GoL Urges Reconsideration

Capitol Hill, Monrovia: September 20, 2021: The University of Liberia Faculty Association (ULFA) has announced that it will disengage from all academic activities on all campuses beginning Monday, September 20, 2021 for alleged refusal of the UL Administration to improve the wellbeing of its members.

The decision by ULFA to disengage was contained in a two-page resolution at the end of an Emergency General Assembly held on September 17, 2021 on the Capitol Hill campus of the University.

Among many counts, ULFA wants the President of the University of Liberia, Rev. Prof. Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., to address disparities in salary and allowances among faculty members as well as disparities between faculty and administrative staff; ensure increment in salary for faculty; improve the general welfare of faculty members, including social security and medical insurance; and change the “deplorable sanitary condition” on the campuses of the university.

In a briefing to ULFA members at the congress, ULFA President, Dr. Edna G. Johnny, said on June 18, 2021, a General Assembly of the association was held on Capitol Hill where faculty members lamented several issues affecting their wellbeing and passed an overwhelming mandate to the leadership to engage the UL Administration for resolution.

According to Dr. Johnny, the leadership held at least four separate meetings with the Nelson’s leadership in an attempt to address the issues but to no avail.

In addition to meeting with the administration, Dr. Johnny continued, ULFA wrote the UL Administration to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with them on a way of addressing their concerns but the UL Administration allegedly refused.

ULFA President, Dr. Edna G. Johnny
ULFA President, Dr. Edna G. Johnny delivering her statement at the Emergency General Assembly

The Emergency General Assembly was attended by 140 ULFA members who openly lamented and frowned on the Administration’s continual refusal to look into their plights. “Now, therefore, assembled on the Capitol Hill Campus of the University of Liberia, members of the University of Liberia Faculty Association (ULFA) on Friday, September 17, 2021, have resolved to disengage from all academic activities with immediate effect until all its demands are met as stated in the June 18, 2021 Resolution.” The release states.

Dr. Johnny maintained that the continued alleged refusal of the administration to address the faculty concerns prompted their decision.

Immediately following the ‘go-slow’ announcement by ULFA, the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, initiated a stakeholders’ discussion to promptly review the issues in the resolution. The Government has urged ULFA to reconsider its decision and asked the Civil Service Agency to investigate and resolve alleged salary disparities at the University of Liberia.

On other infrastructural development issues that the government considers beyond the purview of the UL Administration, the Minister of Finance, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah, promised during the Zoom meeting that these projects will be undertaken by the relevant government agencies and fundings will be made available in the national budget to cover them. 

The Minister of Commerce, Hon. Mawine Diggs, who is the Acting Head of the Cabinet and the former head of the National Commission on Higher Education, emphasized the importance of conducting teaching and learning in a conducive environment. 

Hon. Diggs, who is former chairperson of the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE), said she is aware of the challenges confronting higher education in the country, and commended faculty of the University of Liberia for the enormous sacrifices they continue to make amid these challenge, promising GOL’s continued support to improving the environment of teaching learning at the University. 

She said a conducive learning environment can have a positive impact on teaching and learning. 

Hon. Diggs, however, called on ULFA to reconsider its decision and return to the classrooms while discussions aimed at addressing their concerns take place. 

In response, Dr. Johnny thanked the Government of Liberia,  on behalf of ULFA, for swiftly intervening to take charge of the situation and said that she would take the request to reconsider their decision to disengage back to the body for discussion.

She said she will meet with her executives on Monday, September 20, 2021, to brief her members as well as put to them the request for reconsideration made by the Government and the UL Administration. An Emergency General Assembly is expected to be held on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 to give a response to the Government of Liberia and the University of Liberia Administration.

UL President Dr. Nelson also welcomed the intervention of the Government and assured members of the Faculty that his administration is willing and ready at all times to work with them in moving the University forward.

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