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Saturday, July 20, 2024

UL FACULTY STRIKE JEOPARDIZES SEMESTER END, SUP URGES IMMEDIATE GOVERNMENT ACTION

Date:

MONROVIA — The Vanguard Student Unification Party (SUP) on Monday, June 17, 2024, issued a strong statement in response to the University of Liberia Faculty Association’s (ULFA) announcement of a strike beginning June 14, 2024. ULFA members, including lecturers and professors, have ceased all academic activities, citing the administration’s failure to address numerous pressing issues impacting their livelihoods. The root cause of this crisis, they assert, is the government’s persistent neglect.

ULFA, an independent body within the university, is composed of the very educators responsible for imparting superior education to over 20,000 students. This strike comes at a critical time, as the University of Liberia is scheduled to conduct final exams in the next two weeks, marking the end of the 2023/2024 academic semester. The strike has thrown the academic calendar into disarray, causing significant distress and public embarrassment for the students.

In a press statement released on June 17, 2024, signed by Cde. Mohammed S. Jalloh, Secretary General of SUP, and approved by Cde. Kwien W. Kwien, II, Chairman of SUP, the party expressed solidarity with ULFA’s demands for better conditions. However, SUP urged that these issues be addressed without halting academic operations, emphasizing the detrimental impact on students’ education and future prospects.

SUP, a Pan-African socialist student movement with a long history of advocating for social justice, called on ULFA to reconsider their strike and resume classes. They argued that ongoing negotiations should not disrupt the students’ education, especially given the already delayed 104th graduation convocation.

The party condemned the government’s negligence, highlighting the disparity between the funding for political retreats and the lack of financial support for educators. SUP criticized the government of President Boakai for its failure to prioritize education, violating both the Liberian Constitution and international human rights standards.

Further complicating the situation is the already fragile state of the University of Liberia’s infrastructure and resources. Students and faculty alike have had to cope with a lack of essential facilities, such as reliable transportation and adequate classroom materials. The strike exacerbates these challenges, making it increasingly difficult for students to receive the quality education they deserve. SUP highlighted these issues to underscore the broader systemic neglect that has plagued the institution for years.

In their statement, SUP also called attention to the psychological impact on students. The uncertainty surrounding their academic future is causing significant stress and anxiety, which could have long-term repercussions on their mental health and academic performance. This aspect, SUP argues, has been grossly overlooked by both the university administration and the government. They emphasize that a stable and supportive educational environment is crucial for student success and national development.

SUP’s call to action includes a direct challenge to the government’s financial priorities. They pointed out the paradox of the government’s lavish spending on non-essential activities while neglecting critical sectors like education. This misallocation of resources, they argue, not only hinders educational progress but also undermines the future of the country by failing to invest in its youth. The party’s statement implored the government to redirect its focus and resources toward resolving the educational crisis.

As the situation escalates, the potential for broader unrest looms. SUP has warned that failure to address their demands within the stipulated 48 hours will result in mass mobilization and unspecified revolutionary actions. This ultimatum reflects the high stakes of the current crisis and the depth of frustration among students and faculty. SUP’s readiness to escalate their protest signals a pivotal moment for the University of Liberia and the broader educational landscape in the country.

SUP’s statement highlights the critical role of education in national development and their commitment to ensuring that the semester continues without further disruption. The party’s ultimatum to the government highlights the urgency of the situation and the need for immediate action to resolve the faculty’s grievances.

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