» Innocents Abroad News, Opinion, Analysis and More For the Adjunct Faculty Nation Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:23:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 In Nigeria Long-Time PT Lecturers Take to the Courts to Demand FT Status Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:57:13 +0000 by Augustine Aminu

Fifty lecturers of the Rivers State College of Health Sciences and Technology have petitioned the House of Assembly over their non-engagement after spending between 10 and 15 years in the service of the school.

They alleged that they were still accorded the status of part-time lecturers by the management of the institution.
Acting on the petition to the House asked Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to setup a Governing Council for the school to resolve the matter.

The directive was contained in a resolution reached by the House after considering the report of an ad-hoc committee it constituted on July 15, 2014 to look into employment issues in the institution.

In their petition, the lecturers lamented the failure of the state Civil Service Commission to employ them as it earlier brokered between them and the authorities of the school. According to the petitioners, they had tutored in the college for between 10 and 15 years on part-time basis on the promise that they would be absorbed as full-time lecturers.

Presenting the report on behalf of the committee, Hon. Gift Wokocha, prayed the House to pass a resolution directing the governor to constitute a governing council as the school has operated for about 10 years without a governing council. He also urged the House to direct the state Civil Service Commission to absolve the aggrieved lecturers, pointing out that most of those employed were lectured by the petitioners.

In their contribution, most of the lawmakers argued that there was need to look at the activities of both the part-time lecturers and the school authorities.

According to Hon. Onari Brown, member representing AKULGA I, “the situation is pathetic but there are questions the House needs to ask. The House needs to look critically into the activities of these lecturers why they will want to lecture
in an institution for 15 years on N8, 000 monthly salary basis. How were they surviving? These are questions the House needs to ask the petitioners and the provost.”

On his part, House Leader, Hon. Chidi Lloyd, submitted that the House has invited the parties to appear before it for more explanations.

When the matter was put into voting, majority of the lawmakers voted in support of the summons.

In his ruling, the Speaker, Otelemaba Dan-Amachree, directed the Clerk to invite the Rector, the Chairman of the State Civil Service Commission and the petitioners to the floor of the House and as well write to the governor to as a matter of urgency constitute a governing council for the institution. Twenty-two lawmakers attended the sitting.

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Northeastern State University Adjunct Spends A Year in Kurdistan Tue, 04 Oct 2011 12:58:18 +0000 by Renee Fite

Just like some people may think Indians in Oklahoma live in teepees, daily life in Iraq is different than some may imagine.

photoDr. Kathrine Garlough (right), adjunct professor of English at Northeastern State University, spent the past year in Kurdistan, Iraq, on the northern border, as adviser to the minister of higher education for that country as it rebuilds and develops its educational system of universities. She says it’s not at all what’s depicted on TV.

“They’re very thankful to Americans for rescuing them from Anfal, Saddam Hussein’s campaign to annihilate the Kurds in the 1980s and ‘90s,” Garlough said. “He dropped gas, chemical gasses, on his own people.”

Now they have an Anfal ministry to help people who were victims, from the 5,000 villages he destroyed, she said.

“When Saddam was defeated and the fighting stopped, the Kurds were able to form their own government,” she said.

During her year stay in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan which has been continuously inhabited for 6,000 years, she was often treated like a celebrity.

“Think Sumerians,” Garlough said. “In Persia, which is now Iran, they speak Farsi. In Kurdistan they’re tri-lingual, speaking Kurdi, Arabic and English, which they start learning in grade school.”

She lived in an apartment and had a driver/bodyguard drive her to work six days a week. Friday is their day of worship and most people are Muslim, but there are Christian suburbs. The work day begins on Sunday, making Friday and Saturday the weekend.

As Iraq began to close its doors to Christians, Kurdistan opened its doors and welcomed them.

“Kurdistan opened its doors to Christians. Muslims don’t drink alcohol, but in the Christian suburbs the restaurants served alcohol, so guess where everyone ate?” she said. “It makes the nightlife interesting, with a very different atmosphere.”

There are no movie theaters, but TV offers some English-speaking channels.

“They’re just starting to gain an interest in a wider cultural expression, and they have their own music and dancing which is different than the Arabic,” she said. “We just don’t understand, people of Kurdistan and America, we have no issues person-to-person.”

Sometimes, she’s take a taxi after work to go shopping, but never drove alone anyplace, as it’s not part of the culture for women to go out by themselves.

Fashion varies by age, also like in America, and men are more fashion-conscious than women. About half the women cover their heads in public. Elderly women wear traditional dress, while middle-age women wear American styles. Men wear Polo shirts and khaki pants.

“The young people dress very European, and the men care more about fashion than women,” she said. “Women do wear high heels.”

About 70 Americans lived in Erbil, a city of about one million, working in reconstruction and helping with the rebuilding. A few did humanitarian and aid work. Every house, hotel, and school was surrounded by high walls with gates and armed security. The border between Iraq and Iran is very tight, with checkpoints like our toll booths, except they had soldiers with machine guns patrolling them.

Almost all jobs flow through the government. They even had people whose jobs were to serve tea or coffee in the offices, usually men.

In spite of that, she said she felt very safe.

“I liked being there and have every intention of going back,” she said. “When you live someplace for a year, you develop a fondness in your heart for it and the people, I have a strong desire to help them in their efforts to make Kurdistan a better place.”

What left her feeling not so safe was the lack of standards or inspections for things we take for granted, like food, buildings or elevators. She ate a lot of fruit with the skins on and nuts just to be safe. And they have no car insurance, so a wreck could result in two people shouting at each other or physically fighting.

“Kurds are a lot like Americans, optimistic, with a strong sense of unity which must have been threatening to Saddam,” she said. “They’re very into picnics, and are very family oriented. Busloads of people travel to see waterfalls.”

In the Middle East, an executive position comes with an apartment, driver and car, she said.

When getting her degree, Garlough didn’t expect to find herself in Iraq.

After completing a bachelor in business administration and specializing in entrepreneurship at Northeastern State University in 1997, she earned a master’s degree and doctorate at the University of Oklahoma in adult and higher education in 2003. Her degree is essentially for administration of colleges, universities and college students, she said.

While at OU, she was project coordinator of a team that wrote a grant to the U.S. Agency for International Development, a government agency providing economic and humanitarian aid, to help support and revitalize the colleges and universities in Iraq.

“In May of 2003, the bombs were still going off in Iraq; the war hadn’t ended and there were sanctions against them,” Garlough said, “They’d been closed off to the world since the mid-’80s.”

Even through this, higher education existed; they sent their people away to get doctorates at Cambridge and Oxford and other world-class universities, she said.

“Where we may perceive they aren’t well-educated, they actually are very well-educated,” she said. “The amazing thing was we found people who would hand-carry messages to get a dean’s signature into places where there was still fighting and riots, so we could help them. We were able to help with capacity-building and administration at the ministry level.”

The prime minister of the Kurdistan region of Iraq has a cabinet that includes a minister of higher education, and she was an international adviser to him seven years after the grant project she headed at OU.

In the 1980s, before sanctions, the University of Baghdad had 80,000 students, and was known as the Harvard of the Middle East, she said. By the end of 2003, the University of Baghdad and some other universities were massively devastated. They’ve been rebuilding for the past eight years.

There are mountains in Kurdistan, a natural vacation region for all of Iraq and waterfalls that attract visitors.

“Kurdistan is unbelievably beautiful; it’s the Iraq that the media has failed to show us,” she posted on her website.

Tourists also like to visit the village on top of a cliff, one of the oldest villages left.

“As Americans, we trace our history back through time and space to Mesopotamia, while those in Kurdistan, Iraq, just trace their history back in time,” she said.

We’re a people based from migration. They did not migrate.

“If you go back far enough the birth place of our civilization is the birthplace of their civilization,” she said. “We’re all part of the same family. It just hit me one day, this is the cradle of our civilization and theirs.”

It’s not what you see on TV; Kurds are Indo-European, not Arabs,” she said. “I found Kurdistan to be safe and prosperous; the people warm and friendly, and, intriguingly, it is very Eastern, with little to zero Western influence.”

She was invited to lecture at the Universities of Salahaddin, Dohuk, and Suliemania. But she spent most of her time in meetings and on projects, and offered advice about assessment, evaluation and accreditation of their universities.

“I was invited to advise his excellency, Professor Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, because of working on the grant and some friendships I made before,” she said.

One of the biggest projects she worked on as part of an executive team was an International Conference for Research to improve the research agenda for the Kurdistan Region.

“The faculty have to produce research and collaborate with the outside world,” she said. “We brought 150 senior researchers from around the world for a three-day conference.”

Another expected situation came on pay days. They don’t use paper checks, as it’s a cash economy, so she was paid with a stack of cash about three or four inches tall, about the size of a brick.

After her year in Kurdistan, she wanted a slower pace and to be around her grown children and grandchildren and friends. She has two daughters, a son, and four grandchildren. Daughter Rachel Gibson works at NSU in the Information Technology Department. Daughter Ericka Lile lives in Purcell. Son John Hatlestad is a student at Northwest Oklahoma State University in Alva.

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Faculty Union at University of Prince Edward Island Wants Longer Contracts for Sessionals Tue, 01 Mar 2011 04:00:00 +0000 People hired to teach courses on contract are one of the sticking points in contract talks between the administration at the University of Prince Edward Island and its faculty.

The two sides will meet again for the first time since the faculty association asked the provincial government to appoint a conciliator.

The faculty association wants the part-time instructors, known as sessionals, hired for longer periods of time, and for them to be given more support for their research. Association spokesman Wayne Peters said sessional instructors make up nearly half of all faculty.

“They’re hired to teach a course, often at the first year level where the class sizes are much bigger, for what would be considered very little pay,” said Peters.

“We’re hiring people to teach on a per-course basis for about $5,000 per course, little or no benefits. It’s a good deal for the university.”

The administration says sessional instructors play a valuable role at the university, and they often have other careers and bring real world experience to the classroom.

They’re also able to take over some courses from tenured professors, who were guaranteed a smaller course load and more time for research in the last collective agreement.

Five courses a year is currently consider a full load for tenured professors at UPEI.


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Korean Part-Timers Will Get Better Pay & Benefits Thanks to New Legislation Mon, 01 Nov 2010 04:00:00 +0000  

Part-time lecturers at universities nationwide will be given the same status as the regular teaching staff under a new plan of the Presidential Committee on Social Cohesion, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

The plan, announced Monday, now goes to the National Assembly.

Their treatment became an issue in June when a lecturer, citing grievances against their poor working conditions, committed suicide. Others like him have since demanded establishment of legal grounds for higher wages, insurance coverage and research support.

Currently, part-time lecturers are hired on a temporary basis and paid an hourly wage. They earn roughly one-quarter of what full-time professors do. But unlike full-time professors, they do not receive benefits such as a pension and medical insurance.

The new plan would guarantee part-time lecturers a minimum of one year of employment, raising their hourly wage from 43,000 won ($38) to 80,000 won. That means a part-time lecturer teaching nine hours per week would earn 22 million won per year, a drastic increase from the current estimate of 10.1 million won per year.

They would also receive health care, unemployment, pension and occupational safety insurance.

The new policy would apply to public universities, but the government plans to offer incentives for private universities to encourage their participation in the plan.

The commission estimated that some 70,000 part-time lecturers will benefit within three years after the revisions take effect.

“The education minister agreed to the revisions, which we expect will be passed as they are,” the commission’s chief Goh Kun said. “The revised law will be submitted to the National Assembly during the current session. The government will provide research subsidies to private universities as an incentive,” Goh Kun, the committee chairman, added.

“Top-notch lecturers should be granted at least a minimum standard of living,” President Lee Myung-bak was quoted by his spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung as saying after the president gave his support for the plan on Saturday. “In the long run, [the plan] should also be expanded to private universities.”

Part-time lecturers have not had the same status as full-time professors since 1977, when a policy on the financial stabilization of educational institutes went into effect.


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In Uganda Faculty Association Backs Firing of Part-time Lecturers Thu, 01 Jul 2010 04:00:00 +0000  

Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) has backed the university’s new reforms, saying they will strengthen the quality of education and reduce wastage of resources.

Speaking to, MUASA Chairman Tanga Odoi, said laying off part-time lecturers, will allow the university to save more money to enhance salaries of full-time staff. “There are some part-time lecturers who really fail to perform just because they lecture in different universities. But we believe that when these reforms are implemented the money wasted on such individuals will help boost salaries of committed full-time staff,” he said.

However, he was quick to point out that services of some part-time lecturers will still be needed in facilities that have fewer staffers. “What I know is that the university will continue engaging a few of them in some faculties until our trainees acquire the needed competencies to take up such roles,” he said. The university recently unveiled new academic, administrative and financial reforms that will among others see all part-time lecturers sacked. The reforms will also bring a reduction in the number of academic programmes by 30 40 percent.

But a part-time lecturer who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job said the lecturer-to-student ration is as high as 1:1500 and is expected to skyrocket given the increasing number of new students.

“Management should admit that the current number of full-time lecturers is far below that of the students. And with their (students) increasing numbers they will have less contact time with lecturers,” he said.

The lecturer said they spend their largest chunk of their time on teaching yet they could be doing research. “The good vice chancellor is making matters worse and soon or later we will be seeing more students’ strikes because they will not be taught well,” he added.

This year, the university admitted 18,000 students with 2,000 on government sponsorship while the rest are privately sponsored. But the lecturers numbers have already been cut from around 1000 last year to just 133 and according to the university acting vice chancellor, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba they will reduce the number further. Recently, the university publicist, Ritah Namisango said the University’s lecturer-to-student ratios were in line with the institution’s strategic plan to shift from teacher-centered instruction to learner-centered pedagogy.


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Ph.D. as Minimum Qualification for Academic Staff in Nigerian Universities: A Policy of Self Deception Fri, 01 Jan 2010 04:00:00 +0000 by Balarabe Yushau

Last year, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Professor Julius Okojie (left) gave a threatening statement to all university lecturers in Nigeria—to the effect that all lecturers must possess a doctoral degree by the year 2009 or lose their jobs (University World News, 30 March 2008, Issue: 0021). Although the year 2009 is about to end, there does not seem to be any noticeable change in the number of “Ph.D.-less” lecturers; and the possibility of dismissing almost seventy percent of the affected lecturers does not appear to be a viable option.

Despite the prevailing reality, it was reported by the Nigerian Tribune of 23rd of November, 2009 that the Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu reiterated the same careless statement during the 17th convocation ceremony of the Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State. The question that immediately came to mind was what did the government put in place to make this policy a reality well in time before or even after the unguarded statements? Or is the situation that bad that a whole minister does not have any sensible thing to say in an important occasion like this other than this unrealistic statement? It is more baffling if one takes into cognizance that both gentlemen are Ph.D. holders and university lecturers at one time. Therefore, they should know what it takes to get a Ph.D. Perhaps, the atmosphere at the top echelon is so “conducive” that on arriving there people easily forget the reality on the ground. My intention in this essay is to argue that the reality on the ground is such that it will make the realization of the policy, as it stands, impossible to achieve, and I hope to suggest a realistic way forward.

I have argued that the first major bust that incrementally blows our university system to smithereens was the successive strikes the system experienced in the last two decades or so. This has turned the minds of the lecturers away from the academics. In the early days of these strikes, the lecturers were thrown into confusion and redundancy. This was because most of them at that time were full time academicians, and did not know any other business or option to fall back upon. The unwise approach the government used to intimidate the lecturers to go back to classroom by stopping their salaries and throwing them out of their houses served as an eye-opener to them for alternative ways of surviving.

Gradually, the lecturers became more entrepreneurial and were able then to intrude into other business sectors. As a result, hardly will you now get a full-time lecturer that does not have one or two other businesses running. Even though this is not something bad, it diverts the attention of the custodian of knowledge away from the academics. It is worth noting that the last strike lasted for four months, and there was no much complaint from the lecturers, unlike before; and thus they were ready to continue had the government not succumbed to their demands. Although people in general do understand the danger of these strikes to our educational system, not many appreciate the extent of the damage the strikes have done to the psyche of our lecturers. Now, rarely will you go to the library and find lecturers reading, and on paying visit to their offices you will find them very busy doing “nothing” (as one of them aptly put it).

The culture of reading that is well known among academicians is almost gone.It should be noted that all these strikes were as a result of the fact that the government succeeded in systematically starving the universities of the resources necessary for any meaningful learning, teaching and research to take place. Teaching material as basic as chalk was missing in our classrooms and the lecturers’ “take home” was no more taking them home. Now that the lecturers have become acquainted with the value of outsourcing money away from their call to academic duty, the government opened another door that diverts their attention more away from research and scholarship. I am talking here particularly about part-time lecturing. Superficially, it is a good way to compensate for our lack of manpower and also assist the lecturers to generate more income. However, it is another policy of self deception, and a way to divert the attention of the lecturers away from the academics. You will find a lecturer teaching in three or four universities. And the distance between the institutions in some cases is hundreds of kilometers. How do you expect this person to carry out his teaching responsibility effectively? In one of the institutions I visited, I was reliably told that one visiting professor attended the classes only once in the whole semester. And surprisingly, he was given his full salary. With the prevalence of these circumstances, not only have the lectures no time to teach effectively, but also they cannot engage themselves in research due to physical and mental exhaustion. This policy that allowed for the part-time lecturing also allowed the inclusion of these part-time lecturers in the departmental available manpower.

This has made many programs get accreditation that otherwise could not. For instance, I know a department that had only one permanent lecturer who was just a Graduate Assistant (B.Sc holder). He was the HOD and the lecturer at the same time. All other lecturers were part-time. Whom are we deceiving then? Coming into the postgraduate programs, where Ph.D. is the climax, I noted elsewhere that the situation of our postgraduate program is specifically an indicator of the gloomy future of our educational system. The students coming to the post graduate program are graduates of our system. Therefore, they are coming to specialize in courses they are inherently deficient in. Also, due to lack of manpower, the lecturers taking these courses are either post-graduate students themselves, ill-prepared Ph.D. holders or busy professors. None of these is mentally and psychologically ready to teach post graduate courses, talk less of the confidence to remedy the undergraduate deficiencies carried over by the concerned students. Furthermore, most of these students and lecturers have other interests that are significantly in conflict with the academics.

As a result, the quality of our post graduate program is extremely low. Teachers blame the students of lack of seriousness, and the students blame the lecturers of wickedness. At the end, the students compensate for their weaknesses by taking “good care” of the lecturers and the lecturers compensate for their incompetency by “passing” the students regardless of the quality of the work. Once a professor told me that these days after you do the research for Ph.D. students, they also expect you to teach them how to defend the work. Likewise, a colleague told me that her thesis had been with her supervisor for more than a year, and he was yet to get time or rather commitment to read the work. The reason was the work was too bulky and he could not make head or tail out of it. How on earth was this the case? The student in question happened to have had the privilege to have been in the U.S. for one year, during which she was able to update the thesis with some recent literature that the supervisor could not keep pace with or understand. But alas, he was too arrogant to admit that. She told me that she asked another professor if he could intervene, but his response to her was that Ph.D. was no longer earned solely on its merit.

As we know, a post graduate program is both a social and an academic experience. Since most of our professors have lost touch with the academics, hence, they do not have what to give (in the real sense of it); our academic environment has now been politicized. The environment is not that friendly. There is a huge social gap between the students and lecturers in this era where education has became a shared commodity rather than a property of a privileged few. This is a very sharp contrast with the happenings in the developed countries. I was privileged to meet some top academicians in my area. One thing I noticed in all of them is the willingness to learn from as well as share their knowledge and experience with others; while most of our professors are so academically arrogant as if they have the monopoly of all knowledge.

Nothing describes this than the adage “an empty vessel makes the loudest noise”. This sad but stark reality manifests its ugly specter in the quality of the Thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the terminal degree. Take a random sample of Ph.D. theses and you will notice that most of them do not add anything to knowledge, but rather expose the squalor that our educational system has grown to become. Quite a number of these Ph.D.s are supervised by people who do not have any proven training, research contribution or in-depth knowledge in the area they are supervising. They are supervisors just because they have Ph.D. in that subject! I know a professor in such a situation who has supervised many Ph.D. students in Topology, Algebra, History of mathematics, and Computer sciences all added to his laureates. A good undergraduate student of mathematics should be able to understand the impossibility of this ridiculous Academic 419.

Most importantly, if you check the academic records of this professor and many of his likes you will find them empty. The system that allows for this Academic 419 is surely faulty and will in no way produce anything other than 419 graduates. After all, it is like begets like. Take this as a further challenge, pick all the lecturers that supervise up to five Ph.D.s in our universities, I can assure you that more than 70 percent of them cannot defend more than 70 percent of what they supervised. Students are just good in compiling other people’s work, and more often with no proper citation, a plagiarism per se. We have quite a number of cases, where both the student and the supervisors do not know what the thesis is actually all about. I come across one in which the student, the supervisor and external examiners do not know “anything” on what the “fancy” title is fundamentally all about. And these ill-prepared Ph.D. graduate will soon be surrounded by many other Ph.D. students. Whom are we deceiving?!

With this reality on the ground comes the danger of asking the lecturers to have PhD by all means. No doubt, the policy will only increase the mediocrity that is already in the system. I disagree with those who are asking for more time for the affected lecturers to complete their degrees – the issue is not that of time. I however, sympathized with those who think “With improvements in the working and living conditions of lecturers with Ph.D.s, they will be in a position to train their colleagues with masters degrees”. The issue is beyond that. PhD is not something that you produce when the need arises. It requires time, and more importantly academic commitment of the students and supervisors. Without this no amount of improvement of condition of service will bring any meaningful change. For instance, despite all the reasonable adjustment in the salaries in recent times, not much has changed in terms of the attitude of the lecturers toward teaching and research.Then what is the way forward? If the government is sincere with the policy, I have radically suggested a way forward in some other place. I said “our universities should stop given any post-graduate program”. We should stop deceiving ourselves. We must understand and accept the reality that we do not have the expertise, manpower, and commitment to provide sufficient training for even our undergraduate programs not to talk of post-graduate program. Let us concentrate on the undergraduate program. This may appear as an insult to some people, but they should know that I am not talking of individuals here; rather I am referring to the system as a collective whole.

Both the state and federal governments should invest heavily on education. Potential students for post graduate studies should be sent abroad for their Masters and Ph.D. The approach will not only expose the students to environments where academic is at its cutting edge, but will also give them opportunity to compete internationally. On coming back to Nigeria , these students will come back fresh with different academic perspectives, knowledge and academic experiences that are of international standard. This is the academic culture and revolution that our university system needs. Certainly this change cannot come from within the present system, as the system cannot give what it does not have. This investment is worthwhile and will yield a lot of profit in the near future. If you want to understand clearly what I am saying, take Malaysia as an example; just calculate how much money Nigerians are currently sending to Malaysia annually for the education of our children.

But this is because Malaysia has initially invested a lot of money in the education of their children abroad, in the UK, USA, Australia, etc. Should we have done the same thing, we could have been an educational hub at least in Africa , and could have not been sending huge amount of money to other countries that are not better than us forty years back. Rather, education could have been competing now with oil as an income generating machine for the country. We could by now with our population, have a ministry of exporting manpower —Nurses, Doctors, teachers, and lecturers to all parts of the world.I hope the minister and NUC will think twice on this policy, and consider the proposal forwarded here, which is practical, affordable and worthwhile. Or think of a better but realistic alternative. Otherwise, we will continue to waste our time formulating policies of self deception.

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The Part-Timer Who’s Taking On Makerere University Sat, 01 Nov 2008 04:00:00 +0000 by Rosebell Kagumire

Over 200 students at Makerere University, in Uganda, could miss their graduation due next January 2009. This is because a part-time lecturer who hasn’t been paid for a year by the university is withholding student’s dissertations and marks until the university clears his monies.

Mr. Booker Sentongo, who has been a part-time lecturer in the Department of Geography at the university since year 2000 on the tourism programme, demands just over Shs 1.6 million ($837 US dollars) accumulated over a period of one year.

According to a letter from the office of Dean Faculty of Arts to Sentongo, over 200 students may not graduate as scheduled in January 2009 if the lecturer does not release the marks in time.

“…reconsider your actions and urgently submit the marks that you are holding because time is running out for students who have to graduate in January 2009. After submitting the marks, you can call on the undersigned to discuss amicable ways of handling the matter of unpaid claims.”

In a letter dated October 15, Sentongo wrote to the head of department saying the faculty had failed to pay him Shs 630,000 ($329) for marking dissertations in the year 2006/007 and other unpaid claims including marking coursework, examinations and field reports amounting to about Shs 830,000 ($434).

In the letter, Associate Professor Abasi Kiyimba Assistant Dean of Faculty of Arts said the non payment of Sentongo’s salary and allowances is because the university is cash strapped.

“The university is experiencing financial difficulties that make its various units unable to meet all their obligations on time,” said Kiyimba.

This is just another example of how the never-ending financial crisis of Makerere University is affecting the quality of education of an institution that was once the best in the region.

“…the scripts, dissertations and marks that you are holding are a property of Makerere University; and by illegally withholding them, you are holding 225 students at ransom,” the letter reads in part.

When contacted, the Head of the Geography department, Prof. Charles Basalilwa at first denied knowledge of the issue before backtracking.

“I don’t know about it, I will have to investigate first,” said Prof. Basalilwa. “I cannot say I know, I simply have no comment.”

According to the letter the university might consider legal action in order to retrieve these marks and dissertations from the lecturer.

Prof. Kiyimba said, “Because you [lecturer Sentongo] have served us for a long time, we are restraining ourselves for the time being from appealing to the law to recover the university property in your possession.”

The university is reportedly facing a financial crisis and could be forced to close earlier than usual. The University Bursar, Mr. Ben Byembabazi, was recently quoted saying the university council had failed to release all the money as budgeted for in the 2008/09 budget and was now appealing to the government to avail the promised contribution.

Government through the Ministry of Finance funds students on the government scholarship scheme and that is the money (non remittal) that has always plunged the university into a financial crisis. The funds that the Council has refused to release are mostly from the internal revenue collected from private students.

In mid-October, members of the University Council and senate while appearing before the parliamentary committee on social services told MPs that the university has time and again operated at a deficit due to failure by the government to remit funds to programmes it’s supposed to fund.

The University Secretary, Sam Akorimo said the institution is now surviving on donor aid and that staff are Shs 10 billion ($5.2 million) short of their wage bill as a result of government’s inaction.

While the actions of part-timer Sentongo are technically illegal, the issue of non payment of staff salary has a big impact on the quality of education students will get from Makerere University.

Sentongo’s case is not isolated as reports indicate that part-time lecturers are generally not paid on time. As recent as September, part-time lecturers’ salaries were delayed for about two weeks. The University owes more than Shs 400 million ($209,000) in arrears for part-time lecturers.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor Lillian Tibatemwa said that her office had not received a complaint from the geography department. The Minister for Education Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire said she would investigate the matter.

Salaries have been a contentious issue at Makerere University and the reason behind numerous strikes by lecturers. In November 2006, Makerere was closed after lecturers’ went on strike demanding a pay raise.

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Taking a Sabbatical South of the Border: An Adjunct Retreats to Mexico Sat, 01 Mar 2008 04:00:00 +0000

Untitled Document

by Roy Freedman

Upon waking up in Guanajuato, Mexico for the very first time, on January 4, 2008, I planned to connect with my chosen Spanish-language academy (my anchor, so to speak, in a foreign land). My second priority was locating a suitable apartment for the next three-and-a-half months (more on that later). My third order of business was to find English teaching work. I knew I would have plenty of spare time, and I always need to feel productive. The extra money would help me breathe easier, as I did not yet know how to gauge my expenses. Finally, teaching would be an excellent opportunity to meet local people. I knew from previous experiences overseas how easy it would be to retreat into speaking English with fellow students studying Spanish, tourists and expatriates, many of them unable to speak much of the local language, and thus avoid the difficulty of communicating in another language.

Sure enough, from my Spanish-language school staff I found out about two private schools hiring native English speakers. From my landlady, a retired dance professor at the University of Guanajuato (20,000 to 30,000 students depending on the source), I got encouragement, an address, and names of people to approach about teaching work. And from Mitch, a friendly and very loquacious Oregonian, who seems to have found the revolving door at the Mexican-American border, a few more teaching contacts. He advised me that December/January and July/August see the highest turnovers of teachers, so I had arrived at a good time for finding work. It was welcome news.

Being a long-time college adjunct, the University of Guanajuato was my employer of first choice. Teaching English there would, perhaps, be a plum job with much prestige. However, for the spring term they hire in December. In addition, I was staying only until mid-April and the college’s Spring term ends in June. While on campus, I spotted a prominent courtyard wall displaying photos and credentials of people offering to teach English privately. I didn’t know if these individuals were teachers looking for extra work, or rejected part-time faculty applicants like myself. I did learn that classes at the university can contain up to 39 students, although they rarely do, and that beginning instructors earn 65 pesos an hour (about $6.50). I was told that if I worked less than 20 hours a week, no working papers were needed, but if I worked more than 20, the school would help me with documentation. (Tip: If there are any papers you can obtain from a Mexican consulate or embassy in the States, get them. Once you are here, you are at the mercy of the gods. However, thanks to NAFTA, it is perfectly legal for Americans to work in Mexico without having to secure a work visa.)

Because so many Americans and other English-speakers head back to the U.S. for the Christmas holidays, I found more work than I wanted. I started with a private school called “Discovery.” The Director wanted to see my résumé (which I wisely brought with me to Mexico), and I started out teaching teenagers two hours each Saturday. The school didn’t provide much in the way of lesson plans, and I didn’t like the textbook, so I created my own lessons and found teaching materials, mostly around the school. This worked out fine, I thought, and no one ever questioned my judgment—or even asked me what I was teaching.

Naomi, a fellow instructor, was packing to go home after her stay in Guanajuato, with her new Mexican fiancé in tow. She offered me her class of elementary age students; I readily accepted. However, I subsequently thought it over and realized that having spent most of my teaching career in college classrooms, I did not feel comfortable teaching little children. I turned down the class the next day.

No sooner had I turned down the job, then I was hired to teach English to advanced students working in the Palacio de Gobierno (Governor’s Palace), a fairly plush building housing the Governor of the State and his staff. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. I taught conversation and advanced grammar to up to half a dozen very bright and motivated adults, two of whom were preparing to take English oral exams in order to enter British universities on Mexican government scholarships. We used a roomy boardroom, had coffee, soda and water waiting for us every morning, and every piece of equipment and all of the supplies I needed. The Governor wants his people to learn English in order to improve tourism and other commercial enterprises involving the U.S. He wants to draw some tourists away from the Mexican beaches inland to the charming towns like Guanajuato, neighboring Miguel de Allende, and Dolores de Hidalgo. For what I sometimes considered the best teaching job I ever had, I was paid the royal sum of 100 pesos ($10) an hour, tax free, no paperwork, no supervision, no meetings. My boss was glad to have a tireless, native English-speaker aboard. 

Many adjuncts will moan: just more low wages, except in pesos. Not true. First of all, many Mexicans don’t earn 100 pesos a day! One hundred pesos an hour is a princely sum. You can get a four-course meal for 40 pesos or less, attend a first-run movie for 30 pesos, and see a touring Broadway show (“Rent”) for 100 pesos. A bus ride across town cost 4 pesos. I sometimes felt ashamed of the “wealth” I accumulated so easily.

The woman who oversaw the English-teaching contract with the government asked me to take over her intermediate class, and I gladly took this early evening class (six-seven jovial workers). I also earned additional money helping her decipher the oral section of the TOEFL examination. The Discovery school then offered me another course that ran two or three nights a week, but I turned it down. I was in Mexico to learn Spanish, rest from the heavy adjunct teaching load I had every fall (three colleges and six-eight courses), develop relationships, and generally enjoy myself. I am a fairly careful budgeter, and had saved up a lot of money for my “sabbatical,” and earned decent money teaching the classes I had, so I wasn’t desperate for more work.

Besides the danger of accepting all teaching offers and winding up overworked like a typical American, there are other stresses to cope with when teaching in Mexico. In addition to the strain of trying to get your needs met and understand a foreign language, there are the mysteries of another culture. I sometimes suffered from a lack of sleep. Mexico is a noisy place: barking dogs, people out late in the streets, church bells, roosters crowing at the break of dawn, and canons and firecrackers going off at any time to commemorate some Saint’s Day or another.

My work with the government employees ended well: there were classroom parties, gifts and e-mail addresses exchanged. Not so with Discovery. I had instigated a romantic relationship with the school’s owner, but it ended badly. Despite this situation, I had such a successful stay in Guanajuato that I am seriously thinking of moving there to live and work. I know now it’s possible to find good friends (Mexican and American), good apartments and good work south of the border.

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For Sale: English, Cheap. Mon, 01 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 by TomBentley

What if rulers from a far-off land insisted that all subjects eat an allegedly beneficial imported cheese with a complex, challenging flavor? And what if a good percentage of the subjects were indifferent to eating it, or ate it only reluctantly, or refused to eat it entirely? And what if there were conflicting information about whether the cheese was even good for you at all? Peculiar metaphors aside, that’s how I saw my 2004–2005 year of teaching college English on the Micronesian island of Kosrae, a country with (for me) uncomfortable dependencies on the United States.

Micronesia’s history has been marked by foreign occupation. A part of the U.S. victory in the Pacific Theater of WWII consisted of evicting, sometimes forcefully, the Japanese from their strategic occupation of a huge swath of Micronesian territory.
In 1947, a UN Trust Territory declaration gave the U.S. formal administrative rights over the islands of Chuck (then called Truk), Pohnpei, Yap and Kosrae. Upon the signing of a shared constitution in 1979, the four island groups became the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), with the U.S. controlling its relations with other countries and retaining exclusive military access. Through various agreements (now formally called The Compact of Free Association) over the next 25 years, the FSM kept sovereignty, but the U.S. continued to administer many aspects of government, all the while pouring in vast sums of money.

Today, U.S. funds are the only sustained source of island income, and most of the goods purchased there are imports. One of those imports has been English. An FSM constitutional provision requires that English be used for legislative proceedings. Underlying continued U.S. dollars allocated for FSM education funding is the presumption that English is to be taught in the schools.
By default, the island has had English instruction of some kind on and off for more than 150 years, starting with missionaries in the mid-19th century, to the Peace Corps in the 60s, to the pervasive instruction now at the grammar, high school and college levels. The difficult part is determining if all that money, and all that teaching, has done the island, or the U.S., much good.
My teaching experience on Kosrae was possibly the strangest job I’ve ever had. I’d been warned that the Kosraeans were quiet in the classroom, but “quiet” doesn’t begin to describe it. It wasn’t simply that students would not respond to my lectures. Most would not even respond to direct address. On many occasions, when I asked students to read from the written answers to class questions I saw on their desks, they would slip their papers under their books, pretending they didn’t exist. Repeated pleas to just read anything they’d written often got me only a characteristic lifting and squinching of eyebrows instead of speach. At my requests for participation, some students would shift nervously about, some scowl, or some grin with embarrassment, but only rarely would any venture an answer. Requesting oral participation in class goes against the Kosraean notion that youth shouldn’t speak freely to adults (and, perhaps, white male adult teachers all the more), or shouldn’t try to stand out in groups, but I never got used to it.

At first, I thought my students would adjust to me and loosen up as the semester progressed. Wishful thinking: I taught a full year, with many students enrolled in several of my courses both semesters, and the silent misery of my classrooms never relented. More than a handful of my students never spoke a word in English. Surely, you’d think, I’m some kind of curmudgeon, a dry, imperious sort who intimidates his students, choking their ease and creativity. No, I’m a person who delights in learning, in discussing literary ideas and style, and in seeing the creative spark hit its target. Try as I might to convey my enthusiasm for the written word, however, my classes invariably held the dead air of my voice, and my voice alone.

Despite my admonishments, for a fair percentage of students, attendance was casual. If they did come to class, many frequently arrived 20 and 30 minutes late. It was difficult to communicate the necessity of sustained, concerted individual effort–and consequent individual achievement–to students for whom customs were more group and family-oriented. There are many family obligations on Kosrae: working on the family farm, taking care of smaller children, the elderly, the ill, attendance at religious ceremonies, funerals, feasts, and more. And it seemed that if some students took off for something one day, they would often add a day or two on to it for good measure.

My teaching discouragement left me much to consider about the product I was offering, the cheese mentioned in the opening paragraph. Despite all that English poured into Kosrae over the years, my time on the island showed that most people I knew never seemed to develop a thirst for it. On a practical level, English proficiency is a tangible benefit for those rare students who aspire to the limited range of FSM government jobs on the island. Of course, most work off the island would have even more stringent English requisites. But Kosraean life seems at odds with the rigors of school schedules, commitments and achievements.

I suspect that, for a significant percentage of Kosraean students, the only incentive for attending is the Pell grant, U.S. funding that offers students a $1,000 per semester grant, additionally paying for registration and other fees. Because many Kosraean families subsist on no more than three or four thousand dollars a year, the grant is a substantial incentive to keep students in school. Students may fail classes multiple times and continue to receive funding.

Despite long acquaintance with English, Kosraeans have few incentives to learn it. Television, which has been on the island for only a few years, is one motivator, as is a small library shared by both the college and the high school. I saw only scattered evidence of people reading for pleasure, though, and in the Kosraean homes I visited, few books were to be seen. There are hardly any materials in native Kosraean as well—the scant instruction in the mechanics of their native language has undoubtedly colored the deep difficulties with English grammar I saw repeated in my students’ papers. Simply put, most Kosraeans would rather speak Kosraean. And who can blame them?

Part of the blame has to rest with an essentially hands-off U.S. policy of fund administration for many years. Until the negotiation of this latest Compact, our government simply released large grants of monies for various divisions and programs of the FSM government, without requesting much in the way of accountability or return. Thus you have situations like the appalling circumstances of the island’s only high school, where leaking roofs, no classroom air conditioning, jutting spikes of exposed rebar and piles of rotting books belie the U.S. monies long directed its way. The only hospital’s conditions prompt the same question: “Where has the money gone?” Very few U.S.-sponsored programs to promote local entrepreneurship have borne fruit; again, it seems as though the laissez-faire attitude of our administration to the outcome of its investments, and an island entropy that slowly lets such investments be frittered away, take their inevitable toll.
Despite opening up the U.S. for easy immigration for Kosraean citizens, we’ve failed to make it clear to them how to maximize the possible opportunities, including developing a deep interest in English-language skills. But I can’t dismiss out of hand my students’ efforts. Some, despite their verbal nervousness, displayed in their essays a respect for learning and a declaration of motivation toward academic betterment. (As an aside, I was often amazed by the contrast between my students’ in-class reticence and their remarkably frank expression, in essays, of personal troubles and aspirations.) For some, I could see modest development in the labored efforts to put their English skills to use.

What to do? The new Compact calls for stricter accounting of how money is spent, which could help direct real dollars toward young minds. Perhaps more attention could also be paid to developing strong grammatical instruction much earlier; the majority of students just don’t grasp grammatical fundamentals. In addition, educational “marketing” could be turned toward Kosraean parents, who do declare that they want their kids to learn English and move ahead, but who don’t seem to strongly promote academic responsibility in their offspring. Finally, island leaders could work more closely with US administrators to preserve and combine traditional teachings with English instruction so that there is an alliance of educational structures and goals to encourage a higher regard for learning in general.

But of course, the genie’s out of the bottle, and the island can’t go back to what it was—notwithstanding some antique shade of colonialism in the suggestion. Somehow, we’ve got to serve the cheese differently. And to all my former Kosraean students: please say something to your teachers now and then—they’ll cherish every word.

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Teaching in Hungary Revitalizes One Adjunct’s Love For the Classroom Mon, 01 Nov 2004 04:00:00 +0000 by Anthony Akers

In the Fall of last year, I submitted my last will and testament of my teaching career to the readers of this publication, and my argument was simple: “Working as an adjunct is hell; we all know this; we can’t do much about it, so if you hope for enlightenment and freedom and a salary to support it…quit the classroom.”

I followed my own advice.

Soon after I left my college teaching job, I had withdrawal. It is said that one can become addicted to anything he or she enjoys. I grudgingly applied for a few administrative positions at local colleges and universities. I wrote cover letters that sounded even more stale and dry than the last paper I’d read on Dickinson’s poetry. I made fanciful excuses for myself, and clicked the “administrative staff openings” on human resource Web pages with a sense of disdain. In the end, I concluded that maybe the problem wasn’t teaching, but rather where I was teaching. I looked to the east…thousands of miles east.

I applied for and won a grant to teach high school in eastern Hungary for three months. I knew very little about Hungary and less about the Hungarian language, but I perceived both as challenges. I traveled thousands of miles to help students of another language and culture learn the nuances of the English language and American culture, but it was I who learned the most about what it really means to be a teacher; it was an injection of much-needed optimism, and ultimately, it was a lesson that sent me back into the classroom here in the United States.

Mátèszalka is a small, peaceful town situated near the Tizsa River in northeastern Hungary. A former “satellite state” of the Soviet Union, Hungary seemed like a great place to escape, and I was eager to soak up some culture. The people are notoriously friendly; the food is exceptional and generally uncontaminated by western cuisine. The country boasts over 1000 years of culture, and as I would soon learn, education, at any level, is not taken lightly.

After a long ride from Budapest across the Hungarian Great Plains, I situated myself in an apartment near the school, walked to the grocery store with dictionary in hand, and prepared for the next day’s lessons. I had been told I should engage my students in conversations about the American Civil War; the first class I was to meet was a “4a” level class, meaning they were seniors who had studied English for several years. I slept little the night before. I listened as an approaching storm roared.

On that first day, I walked into the classroom expecting the usual chatter and chaos that precede a lesson, prepared to situate my papers and raise my voice to announce the beginning of the lesson. Instead, as the door closed behind me, I heard only the simultaneous scraping of chairs being thrust backwards, and there stood 25 students, at full attention, silent, waiting for me to do or say—something.

As I tried to shake off the shock and introduce myself, a young lady walked to the front of the room, faced me, and announced who was absent (all were present). She announced the date, and the level of the class. She announced the current weather and the weather forecast, and, with a sweeping glance around the room, this student announced that all present were prepared for the English lesson. And she stood there until a young man in the front row, his papers and pens neatly organized on his desk, tapped me and whispered, “please tell the class to sit down.”

Culture Shock 101.

This almost ceremonial beginning to a given lesson was not isolated to me, a visitor, and it was not isolated to the initial parts of the class. I visited other classes as a guest, and witnessed the same respect for the Hungarian teachers. Throughout each and every lesson, from the first level students to the advanced speakers, these kids were thirsty for knowledge, and they challenged me at every turn. I did that lesson on the U.S. Civil War, and was horrified to find many of the students knew more than I did, and they told me all about it in a language not native to them. If they were to be admitted to a university in that country, they had to, and most of them could recite the major battles of our own Civil War in three languages. The contrast with American high schools, and indeed American higher education, was patently, ironically, absurd. I remember feeling ashamed of the reality of education in my own country, but began to desire, once again, to play a role in doing something about it.

I stayed in their school for three months, and delivered lessons on everything from American pop-culture and typical southern American foods to 9/11 and Hollywood subculture. I took lessons in Hungarian, many of them from my own students. I had studied ancient Greek in graduate school, yet found it was no match for the intricacies of their own tongue; I struggled with their language more than they did with mine. I went with my students on field trips and toured their country. I even joined some of their families for dinner. One common thread always remained: teachers are the most highly respected professionals in the country. The day of my departure, every class I taught presented me with gifts, and my students looked me in the eye and said “thank you for helping us.”

Indeed, I learned more about Hungary than I had ever imagined, but I learned even more, comparatively, about the state of education in my own country, and about my role as an educator. I learned that much of my disappointment, the frustration that drove me to quit my teaching job in the United States, was not as much about lack of money and lack of benefits as a lowly adjunct, as it was about the lack of respect I felt. I learned, in sum, that we are unbelievably spoiled; we take too much for granted. While this country’s institutions of higher education count their dollars and play their politics our 12th graders struggle to find Hungary on a world map, while 12th graders in Hungary recite the capitals of every state in the Union.

I have resumed teaching English literature in the United States, and I’m glad to be home again. I’ve concluded that my heart is in teaching, and it took a trip to Hungary to remind me of that fact, to put it all in perspective. And now, back in the U.S., I walk into the classroom and call them to order, my voice against 25 others, and it’s up to me to count the absences and record the date and watch the weather forecast. But in the end, I’m once again inspired to stand in the classroom, and believe I can make a difference in my students’ lives.

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