REVIEW Dons want salary increased
Professor John Akech, the Vice Chancellor of Juba University speaks
to press yesterday (Photo:Sheila Ponnie)
By Sheila Ponnie
Vice Chancellors of the five public universities in the country have started reviewing salary structure of academic and non-academic staff.
The meeting was attended by vice chancellors and deputy vice chancellors from the University of Juba, Dr. John Garang University of Science and Technology, Upper Nile University, Bahr el Ghazal University, and Rumbek University, and the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Yien Oral Lam Tut.
The technical committee formed by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology to review salaries of public university workers proposed a 10 percent increment.
However, the university professors have said the increment is not enough. They are demanding an increment comparable to those earned by countries in the East African Community bloc.
Professor John Akech, the Vice Chancellor of Juba University said because of inflation, the salaries of professors and staff of public universities in South Sudan have lost value since 2015.
Akech revealed that in 2015, a full professor in a public university was getting an equivalent of 7,100 USD but today, a professor gets about 136 USD a month.
“That’s a huge decline compared to the region. In Uganda a full professor gets about 5,000 USD a month, in Rwanda, it is about 4,500, in Kenya it is about 3,600 and Tanzania it is about 3,600,” he said.
The professor said due to loss of value in salaries, a lot of staff have deserted universities to either cross the borders or to NGOs.
“A medical doctor in an NGO can be attracted by 3,000 USD. If he was a professor at a university college of medicine, he is going to leave because he is getting 136 USD. We are losing staff. We are not attracting because we don’t have all the expertise we need. If our salaries were good, we can attract people from across the border to come and work here because the salaries would be competitive, Professor Akech explained.
He said the low salaries are not also good for the image of professors because they are highly qualified individuals with PhDs.
“We are trying to recover the value in the new salary structure. How much do you pay them today to have the same or similar attractive salary as in 2015 which was good or something that is competitive and comparable to the region so that people do not leave but also others can come to South Sudan,” he said.
Professor Akech said what has been proposed by the committee is very low. “It is not going to address this idea of turnover of people leaving. My first impression is it is extremely too low,” he said.
Akech said they will discuss with the ministry, hoping that the minister would take the views of the universities to the Cabinet.
Professor Abraham Matoch Dhal, the Vice Chancellor of Dr. John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology who also attended the meeting said the universities need at least a reasonable salary structure that can keep the staff and attract qualified cadres to join.
“The salaries are too low and lecturers are running away from universities. That means there will be no appropriate teaching and students would be graduated with low standards,” Professor Matoch explained.
He said he wished the Council of Ministers would stand with higher institutions of learning to support it.
“We know all the economic environment and we know the conditions we are in but we need to also see how higher institutions can survive with meaningful respect. Most of the works in universities are sacrifices because people have children to educate and other commitments to serve,” he said.
“I think it would be reasonable for the Council of Ministers, Parliament and nation as a whole to look in to conditions of universities. This is to promote higher education as well as production of qualified manpower for the country,” he added.
Meanwhile Minister Tut said through their interaction with the university professors, they wanted to create a conductive environment for students to learn.
“We will present it to the Council of Minister sand if the Council of Ministers approves it, then it will be referred to the Minister of Finance for further review and implementation that is what we are expecting after the meeting,” Tut said.
“I don’t think the cabinet will be pleased to allow the lecturers to leave the universities. All of you have seen what had happened in some universities.Some 400 and 100 and 300 left universities so we don’t want all of them to leave,” he said.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Yien Oral Lam
Tut addresses Journalists in Juba (Photo by Sheila Ponnie):