Letters:

Eastern Polytechnic,

Private Mail Bag – Kenema,

Kenema.

Date: 3rd September, 2020.

The Executive Managing Editor,

Forum Newspaper,

29 Rawdon Street,

Freetown.

 

Dear Sir,

The Strike Action of Polytechnics and Its Impact on Student Academic Achievement

I am writing to draw your attention and the general public to the strike action of Polytechnics and its impact on student academic achievement.  First, let me hasten to thank H. E. President Julius Maada Bio for the implementation of his flagship programme: THE FREE QUAILITY EDUCATION, sighting his words on education: ‘’ Education is an investment for human and economic development.  It is a strong foundation for the nation’s industries and also the foundation of moral regeneration and revival of its people. Without quality education, a nation cannot get the needed manpower for socio-economic advancement and an enlightened citizenry’’.

In this vein, economists and other researchers have produced a large amount of evidence that education increases workers’ productivity and thus increases their income. At the country level there is also a large amount of evidence that education increases the rate of economic growth.

Globally, development agencies have also called for greater resources to be devoted to education and have increased their levels of assistance for education projects in recent years. It is against this backdrop that workers the world over stage strikes actions: A strike action is the group’s refusal to work in protest against low pay or bad work conditions. In Sierra Leone, the academic staff of the Polytechnics nationwide are currently on strike. As an intellectual force, they have staged the industrial action to force the powers that be to dialogue and channel their request and grievances to the government for immediate attention to solving or addressing their problems.

Thus, numerous industrial actions had been embarked on by the union to compel successive governments to meet the needs of the lecturers especially in the areas of wages, allowances and infrastructural facilities in tertiary institutions which to a large extent had not been adequately addressed.

Hence, the current strike action has paralysed academic activities, frustrated students and parents, and it has negatively affected the lives of the lecturers. In comparison to other state functionaries, the conditions of service of the lecturers are deplorable and unacceptable as it is not commensurate with their qualifications and salaries.

It is unfair to say the least that the welfare of lecturers of Polytechnics nationwide have been grossly neglected and treated with disregard considering the prompt action taken by the Ministry of Technical and Tertiary Education to address the Njala University strike action. This is a signal for poor service delivery.

My appeal to the government/minister is to take a robust action to solving this strike action amicably.

Sadly, the strike action is counterproductive to the academic achievement of students. It is sacrosanct that the ultimate/primary goal of education is to prepare students for a better life. This is only achieved when students acquire basic and advanced professional skills that make them more productive workers, and thus increases their earnings. Unfortunately, it is apparent and quite evident that the on-going strike action makes the future of students bleak.

On the other hand, these strike actions always lead to the disruption of academic programmes which may expose students to disjointed learning and it may encourage poor study habits among students leading to poor academic performance. According to Odubela (2012), ‘’an effective learning or enhanced academic performance is achieved by successful covering of the course outline before the examination’’.

The strike action breeds disappointment, frustration, emotional and psychological trauma, unpreparedness, lack of motivation and attention on the part of students which dampens human development.

Also, it is strongly believed that tertiary institutions, colleges, polytechnics and universities are the citadel of knowledge, fountain of intellectualism, the most appropriate ground for the incubation or careful processing of leaders of tomorrow. Unfortunately, however, our higher learning institutions have witnessed unprecedented strike actions rather than social and academic propensity. What is the future of this generation of students?

Finally, the strike action has the following effects on students:

  • Paralyses academic activities
  • Decline in the quality of education
  • Lecturers rush the course outline, test, assignment, seminars and examinations when the strike is resolved or called off.
  • Poor quality of graduates due to frequent strike actions
  • Readjustment of academic calendar always has influence on academic performance of students
  • Increase failure rate of students
  • Students engage in deviant behaviour like prostitution, stealing, and raping during strike action
  • Students not given enough time to prepare for examination after the strike action
  • Inadequate and ineffective use of students’ tuition fees paid to the institutions

Suggestions to prevent future strike actions:

  • The government/minister should frequently meet the academic staff union to know and address their problems.
  • The government/minister should reduce the high level of bureaucracies to enhance effective communication between government and the various institutions.
  • The government/minister should conduct capacity workshop on how to improve negotiation and dialogue skills for academic staff.
  • Students should develop good study habits.
  • The government should improve and extend the electronics learning programmes across the country.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration of this important issue. With your support and prompt action, I am confident that the strike action can be resolved soonest.

Yours faithfully,

Mambu Kanneh

……………………………………………..

Final Year Student

Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.)

Eastern Polytechnic, Kenema.