Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has been formally briefed on issues surrounding the unresolved dispute facing the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) management and its staff.
This happened after representative of the university’s Lecturers and the General Staff Associations paid a courtesy call to the prime minister on Wednesday, a statement from Prime Minister Press Secretariat said.
Updating the prime minister on the status of the current dispute regarding allegations leveled against Vice Chancellor, Dr. Ganesh Chand, both associations said, the need for the government to step in and assist resolve the issues facing SINU is urgent.
Jerry Pakivai who plays an advisory role in the combined SINU associations said, “we’ve come to a stage where the government should really know what’s behind this issue.”
Mr. Pakivai said, among outstanding issues that triggered the almost four months old dispute was allegation that the Vice Chancellor Dr Ganesh Chand exercised nepotism when he recruited about ten Indo-Fijian expatriates to take over posts at SINU, some currently filled by locals.
“Further, the staff and students of SINU are also unhappy about how VC Chand managed the country’s premier university,” he said.
The LASINU and General Staff Associations alleged, there was gross misconduct in office.
Another serious allegation is that Indo- Fijians employed at SINU are without work permit. Both the Labour and Immigration division have confirmed this to be true.
The Trade Dispute Panel (TDP) has recently ruled that the LASINU and the General Staff Association are legal bodies. It further ruled, the prerogative to suspend the SINU Vice Chancellor for an independent investigation to kick-start rests with the SINU Council.
Its understood these plus other serious allegations are sitting on the SINU Counsel desk.
Mr. Pakivai calls on the government to appoint an unbiased investigation committee into these claims.
“We want to avoid SINU being turned into something that is not quality. Thinking about our future generations, if we cannot put a stop to this, we will be back to a point where the government will have to send its students overseas for quality education which will be more expensive. We are not really developing our education in the way that we want,” he stressed.
Mr Pakivai added, “Our cry is that the government looks very critically into the leadership of the Vice Chancellor. These things are not reflective of the caliber of people who should be managing our University”.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his response clearly stated, the line Ministry here is the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development.
He said, the government now takes interest in this dispute because it remains unresolved.
The prime minister added, “the allegations must be investigated and audited by an independent body where parties in dispute must not have a hand in its selection”.
The matters raised must be investigated to the finest details. Thank you for coming to express it clearly, said the prime minister.
“I’ll basically be handing it over to my officials to consult with the MEHRD on how this is being handled, otherwise, some directives will be given on how to proceed from here,” he said.
The prime minister said, this is serious, if it continues, it will affect our children’s education as exams are coming up.
“Ultimately, some serious decisions must be made because at the end of the day, SINU is an institution where our human resources are groomed.
“This must be resolved this year, starting with a new slate next year.
“At the end of the day, decisions made in the best interest of our children’s learning should guide how this matter is to be dealt with,” he said.