Monday, July 22, 2024

Guest Post: The Injustice Against Gambian Academic Staff at the University of The Gambia

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Promotions for academic staff at the University of The Gambia (UTG) are usually not on merit-based; rather, they are to some extent based on connections, which means those who are close and friendly to the Senior Management Team of the University get quickly promoted, while others who are critical and honest towards the management and governance of the nation’s top learning institution are to some degree sidelined. This, to all intentions and purposes, is inconsistent with what is in the Condition of Service of UTG, which clearly states that, all promotions should be based on merit in terms of research and publications.
It has been allegedly reported that some academic staff have been promoted verbally (without fulfilling the requirements) and others by voting, whereas one famous Professor who now works in government, was promoted to the ranks of Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor and eventually to a Full Professor without a single journal publication using the same Condition of Service, which tantamount to academic cheating and dishonesty and contrary to the rules stipulated in the UTG legal documents.
According to the UTG Condition of Service, “Appointment/promotion to the grade of Full Professor shall be on the basis of distinguished and continuing contribution to scholarship expressed mainly in the form of a substantial body of distinguished research publications (normally a minimum of five good publications in reputable academic journals) since appointment/promotion as Associate Professor as well as evidence of academic leadership including abilities to initiate and supervise research”.
On May 04th, 2023, a call for promotion was made in which a number of Gambians applied for various academic ranks. The Promotion Committee, which was constituted by the UTG Management did finalize and submit their recommendations few months ago to Professor Herbert Robinson, the Vice Chancellor (VC) of UTG. Unfortunately, the VC seems reluctant for some unknown reasons, to validate the recommendations made by the Promotion Committee for both academic and administrative staff. The year 2023 promotions were unjustifiably delayed until another call for promotion was made on May 06th, 2024. The affected academic staff have repeatedly written to Professor Robinson, asking him to let them know their fate without success. This is unfair as it violates every rule in the book, including the UTG Condition of Service. There are Gambian academic staff with terminal degrees and 20 journal publications who are still serving as Assistant Lecturers, when others without journal publications were promoted to Associate and Full Professors. Others (perceived to be friendly or close to the Management) were quickly promoted from the rank of an Assistant Lecturer to Full Professor within a span of four to five years, which also contradicts the Condition of Service. The ‘Publish or Perish (POP) culture’ of UTG has vanished.
Gambians at the UTG deserve better. Others have left the University for other institutions due to frustration and lack of motivation from the UTG Management. A substantial number of Gambian staff (in countries like the U.S) on study leave refused to return in order to serve their country due to the frustration that awaits them. It has been reported that 15 to 20 per cent of UTG academic staff are foreigners. A substantial number of the Deans of Schools are foreigners. Majority of the UTG Senators are foreigners. Why competent and educated Gambians are being frustrated to leave the university? Are the credentials of those foreign professors authenticated before their appointments? Who is in charge of bringing foreign professors to occupy our tertiary institutions including USET? Are competent Gambians in and out of the country unavailable? These are some of the questions usually raised by some concerned UTG staff.
A number of academic staff currently affected by the unjustifiable promotion delay are considering taking legal action against the University Council, Vice Chancellor and the University as an institution. The Access to Information Act will be used to ensure that all other promotions wrongly done are properly investigated and addressed publicly. “Let justice guide our actions, towards the common good”.
Written by:
Dr. Alieu Gibba
Senior Lecturer & Former UTG Staff Union President
Department of Economics & Finance
School of Business and Public Administration
Dr. Matarr Njie
Associate Professor
Department of Economics & Finance
School of Business and Public Administration

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