By Lincoln G. Peters
The University of Liberia Faculty Association (ULFA) has signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Liberia and the University of Liberia (UL) Administration, assuring a return to classes this week, effective Friday, 8 October 2021.
The MOU follows two weeks of strike action by the faculty members.
The signing of the comprehensive MOU was done in the Ministry of Education’s conference room at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town on Friday, 1 October 2021, aimed at resolving problems including disparity in salaries and demand for improvement of UL facilities, among others.
Dr. Edna G. Johnny, president of ULFA, signed the MoU on behalf of the faculty, Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., signed for the Government of Liberia, Prof. Dr. Julius J.S. Nelson, President of the University signed for UL Administration, and Mr. James Thompson, Director General of the Civil Service Agency (CSA), signed for the CSA.
ULFA was also demanding the UL Administration to remit medical and social security deductions and to pay arrears for faculty members that date back to 2012, as well as payment of wages for some UL part-time lecturers.
Additionally, they sought a refund for laptops, creating a conducive working environment including addressing sanitary conditions, office spaces for instructors, reconditioning of dilapidated buildings, providing internet facilities, and other office supplies.
The MoU seeks to address the lack of competitiveness in the employment of administrative staff at the university and the lack of a comprehensive Human Resource (HR) manual and promotion policy at the university.
Following negotiations led by the government, ULFA has resolved to have all its members return to the classroom beginning Friday, 8 October 2021.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah said he was excited, and thanked ULFA for the step taken in signing the MoU to get back to class.
He said when the crisis started, he received a call from President George Manneh Weah to speedily intervene and bring the situation under control, something he said he did with series of meetings held via zoom since he was not in the country.
“Today we have reached this agreement. I’m happy that you can get back to classes,” he said.
The Finance Minister said he recognized that ULFA did not take the decision because it wanted to rest, but it did so because of some dissatisfactions that have been an old age problem.
He expressed an apology on behalf of President Weah for the number of years that the faculty withstood the difficulties, adding that every party will meet up with their obligation in the MoU.
ULFA president Dr. Edna G. Johnny said the faculties were happy to come to a proper solution, assuring that they will return to class on 8 October.
“I will be having a meeting with my members on Wednesday and Friday the 8 of October we will return to classes,” Dr. Johnny said.
She noted that ULFA is grateful for the intervention of the President of Liberia through Minister Tweah who has been behind the faculties tirelessly in making sure that they reach a conclusive point of doing what they love the best.
For his part, the President of the University of Liberia Prof. Dr. Julius J. S. Nelson thanked ULFA for trusting the Government of Liberia and the UL Administration by signing the MoU that will see them again building and preparing a solid educational foundation for the next generation.
“This is historical because this milestone achievement is done on the birthday of his Excellency, President George Manneh Weah. My gratification goes to him for standing with the University of Liberia as a visitor,” Dr. Nelson said.
He committed the university administration to work hands in hands with the faculty because with togetherness, they can achieve big.
Also remarking, Education Minister Prof. D. Ansu Sonii described the signing agreement as a solution-making day, noting that it falls on the 55th birth anniversary celebration of President Weah.
“Under your watch as president, the education system of the country has improved, with significant improvement in the performance of students,” Prof. Sonii added.
Also in attendance at the signing ceremony were the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Liberia, Rep. Matthew Zaza and Acting Public Works Minister Madam Ruth Collins.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/government-reviews-ul-facultys-demands/—Edited by Winston W. Parley