Omane-Boamah Speaks Out Of His League
He is the Communications Minister whose cabinet portfolio was significantly expanded when President John Dramani Mahama decided to abolish the increasingly superfluous Information Ministry sometime this year. But the subject we are dealing with here right now regards the Book and Research Allowance that the Mahama government has been withholding from tertiary academy lecturers and professors (See “We Have Been Tolerant With Striking Lecturers – Omane-Boamah” Graphic Online / Ghanaweb.com 8/26/14).
As of this writing, the government had come around to wistfully appreciating the fact that the Book and Research Allowance means more than what that funding category actually implies in terms of what lecturers and professors of Ghanaian universities and polytechnics do. I have fiercely fought, through my columns, for the maintenance of this professional incentive traditionally afforded those who constitute our national brain trust. But maybe for the critical enlightenment of politicians like Dr. Edward Omane-Boamah, the concept of Book and Research Allowance needs to be further explained.
It is also equally significant to point out the fact that there are some people with a smattering expertise in the discipline of education who are as cynical about the professional significance of the Book and Research Allowance as the Communications Minister who, I understand, is a physician by training. Unless the Ministry of Education or the Central Government provides adequate stationery and supply of instructor’s textbooks and a state-of-the-art library for all our major tertiary academies, which is what Dr. Omane-Boamah apparently envisages the Book and Research Allowance to imply, then, really, the Mahama government had absolutely no business, whatsoever, tussling with our lecturers and professors over the fulfillment of this vital professional incentive, and it had better indemnify itself by profusely and unreservedly apologizing to these hitherto aggrieved educators.
We may be living in countries with widely divergent levels of academic and pedagogical development, but such diversity is largely technological. In other? words, the aims and objectives of pedagogy, or instruction, is the same here in the United States as it is in Ghana. It is the great ease which the ready use and/or application technology renders pedagogy that enhances the quality of teaching in the West much better than teaching in a Third-World country like Ghana, where much of public education lacks the desired level of budgetary priority.
This must have been what prompted some woefully misguided Ghanaian university lecturers to let on to their former colleagues now employed in Western universities, that the primary significance of the Book and Research Allowance was as a salary supplement. In reality, the Book and Research Allowance also enables tertiary faculty to attend and/or participate in conferences where the latest trends and theories in the field are discussed and studied. In most Western academies, a special university-/college-wide funding/foundation is established for the purpose. It well appears as if this foundation concept is what government operatives like Mr. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa mean when they talk about the establishment of a National Research Fund.
That, too, is a good idea and a direly needed funding source for serious academics and pedagogical scholars. In reality, however, each and every one of our major tertiary academies needs to establish its own scholastic and pedagogical foundation with the support of the Central Government and substantial input from the corporate world. This is the only way for the most progressive of our politicians to be able to realize their salutary dream of inducing the rapid economic and industrial development of the country.