Students of Sierra Leone’s leading university – Fourah Bay College – were in utter shock yesterday after university administrators informed them that lectures have down tools as a result of backlog salaries.
It was reported that the university administration has not paid lecturers since February, thus leading to the strike action. The strike was staged to coincide with the day classes were scheduled to resume – following a three-week hiatus.
The college administration suspended lectures until students register for this academic year, leading to protest action on campus after hundreds of students were asked out of class for payment of fees, a development that warranted students to march to State House for redress.
President of Academic Staff Association, Dr. Charles Silver, said their action was not a new development because there was an agreement between the administration and lecturers since 2011 for improvement of services, adding that they have been magnanimous with the university administration to have delayed their action up until this moment.
“We reminded management about the agreement and a 21-day notice was issued. We wrote them letters and there was no action from them. I actually regret the coincident with the actions by the students, but we adequately informed management before now,” Dr. Silver said.
The university’s Public Relations Officer, Munda Rogers, confirmed the protest and says administrative officials have not met to discuss the matter.
“We are yet to meet on this matter but I will adequately inform you on any development,” he asured.
On 16 March, student representatives from FBC and National Union of Sierra Leone Students (NUSS) urged the administration to address issues of registration, accommodation, social facilities on campus and transcripts, among others.
Prior to the president’s intervention, there were resolutions reached during a pre-meeting with student leaders, the FBC administration, Education Minister, Secretary to the President, and proposed ministers of Youth Affairs and Information and Communication.
During that meeting, it was agreed that students should be given an additional week for registration, in addition to an earlier two weeks they had been initially given.