Lecturers play very important role in the growth of higher education systems and are to some extent responsible for the social behavior in their classrooms. Good lecturers lend a hand in making students be in high spirits at school and that explains why regulatory bodies pay great attention to employee quality, preparatory to the accreditation of any given academic programme or school.
Against this backdrop, Plateau State government-owned tertiary institutions that are reportedly short-staffed could in all probability be on the verge of collapse, if the authorities do not come to their aid by tackling the shortfall in staffing.
This was stated at a meeting of the Joint Unions of Plateau State-Owned Tertiary Institutions (JUPTI) on 24th January, 2019 at the College of Health Technology, Zawan, Jos South LGA.
Daily Trust learnt that eight tertiary institutions ran by the state government are complaining about understaffing.
The institutions include, Plateau State University in Bokkos Local Government Area; Plateau State Polytechnic in Barkin Ladi LGA; College of Education, Gindiri in Mangu LGA; and College of Arts, Science and Remedial Studies, Kurgwi in Qua’an Pan LGA.
Others are, College of Agriculture, Garkawa in Mikang LGA; College of Health Technology in Pankshin LGA; as well as College of Health Technology, Zawan and College of Nursing, Vom both in Jos South LGA.
The meeting observed that the institutions were lagging behind their peers in the country in terms of staffing, with the last major employment exercise for them done in 2006.
The chairman of JUPTI, Paul Dakogol, who spoke with Daily Trust said the institutions could not employ staff since 2006 in spite of dozens of retirements, deaths and even disengagement without replacement.
It was reliably gathered that most of the institutions now depend largely on part-time and casual staff, a situation frowned at by various supervisory bodies and a contravention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) law.
“If the situation of under-staffing is not addressed urgently, the institutions might be heading for total collapse,” Mr Dakogol said.
The staff strength of Plateau State Polytechnic, Barkin Ladi in 2006 was 1,360, but in 2019 the number dropped to 665 with more than half of the staff gone as a result of retirement, disengagement or death.
He said, “Let me give you an example: as at 2006, the staff strength of Plateau State Polytechnic, Barkin Ladi, was 1,360, but now it is 665 with more than half of the staff gone as a result of retirement, disengagement or death.
“So, all the institutions in the state are facing similar issue; all have lost staff due to retirement, disengagement or death and without replacement.”
Daily Trust also confirmed that the institutions have employed the services of ad hoc staff to fill some of the vacancies.
He said, “We now employ the service of casual and ad hoc staff to cover the shortage and we pay their services through internally generated revenue of the schools, most especially from school fees which is an additional cost on the revenue of the schools instead of channeling it to other needs.”
Mr Dakogol said the staff strength of the institutions was worrisome “because you will realise that most of these institutions are understaffed, like the College of Education, Gindiri which has400 staff now, and others with 150 or 200 or thereabouts. The College of Nursing, Vom does not have up to 100 personnel.”
He said Plateau State Polytechnic, Barkin Ladi has employed the services of 100 ad hoc staff who were paid from its internally generated revenue.
Mr Dakogol said nothing has been done so far, despite several efforts and meetings with the office of Head of Service regarding the issue of staff shortage.
He said, “We have talked with the office of the Head of Service and had series of meetings regarding the issue of understaffing but they said there was no approval and the situation is getting worse.”
The secretary of JUPTI, Mr Solomon Ayum, said they also observed with concern the failure to release subventions to the institutions in line with the laws establishing them.
He said, “This issue of lack of release of subvention has eroded the autonomy of these institutions thereby making it difficult for the various governing councils and managements to take major financial decisions,
“Lack of subventions makes it practically impossible for infrastructural development to take place in these institutions. We call on the government to immediately release the subventions of these institutions as is being done in all similar institutions in the country,” he said.
Mr Dakogol also said things would get better if government released subventions to the institutions.
“If government releases subventions to the institutions, many things would be taken care of, including the issue of understaffing.”
He warned that if government didn’t tackle the problems confronting the institutions among other things within 14 working days, their unions would not hesitate to embark on industrial action.
Meanwhile, information obtained from office of Head of Service confirmed that a meeting has been scheduled to hold yesterday (Wednesday) between JUPTI, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Finance and the Office of Head of Service on the issue of insufficient staff, subvention and other issues raised by the institutions.
An official in the office of Head of Service who spoke with Daily Trust on the condition of anonymity said that government was aware of the complaints raised by the institutions and they would be resolved during the scheduled meeting.
“We have received their complaints through Ministry of Higher Education and we have discussed with Ministry of Finance. A meeting is scheduled to take place between our office, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Finance and the institutions on Wednesday (yesterday).
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