More than a third of the 37 million cedis released by government for the payment of Book and Research will go to staff who have nothing at all to do with research.
Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa revealed this on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Monday.
He said out of the 6,483 public sector workers who benefit from the Book and Research Allowance, 2,230 are non-academic staff whose job descriptions do not include any book and research related activities.
“We hold the view that the Book and Research Allowance’s arrangement has not really aided research in a way that it can and should,” he said.
This view, he said, is based on the fact that “under the current arrangement, the book and research allowances are spread thinly across the board…there is a growing number of non-teaching staff, non-lecturers or non-core academic staff who are receiving the book and research allowance.”
The Deputy Minister revealed that goverment has explored the option of restricting the payments to only teaching staff who conduct research but has so far not been able to adopt it as a policy because of the resistance of the beneficiary staff.
"You know we have the strongest unions in the education sector...and they will tell you that you will have to renegotiate because their conditions of service because they see [these allowances] as having now become part of their conditions pf service," he explained.
These allowances have been a sticking point in the relationship between government and some teacher unions, notably, the University Teachers’ Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Polytechnic Teachers’ Association of Ghana (POTAG).
The two associations have at different times called strikes to pressurize government to pay the allowances.
A few years ago, government announced it was scrapping the allowances and replacing them with a National Research Fund.
This proposal was met stiff resistance from the associations but the government stood its grounds, insisting the Fund was the best way forward.
However, President John Mahama at the weekened announced that an amount of 37 million cedis had been released to the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to pay the book and research allowance.
Is government not backtracking on its own proposal for a National Research Fund, Super Morning Show host, Kojo Yankson asked.
"The idea has not been abandoned," Mr Ablakwa said. "Actually we have made progress," he added.
He said there is a bill detailing the proposal, the Tertiary Education Research Fund Bill, before Parliament for delibrations and "we are going to be having stakeholder consultations any moment from now".
"What we agreed witht the unions," he explained, "is that we will continue to pay the book and research allowance in its current format until such a time we conclude the consultations and discussions on the Tertiary Education Research Fund Bill; when the Bill is passed, we will then change over into a new regime."