Posted: Thursday, November 5, 2020. 5:44 pm CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Sheron ‘Sharon’ Palacio: When the COVID-19 hit Belize in March 2020, its long reaching effects were unknown. The first effect on the University of Belize (UB) was a reduced subvention which affected the institution tremendously. UB was obligated to take draconian measures to stay afloat. Faculty and staff agreed to a salary cut to avoid sending home of employees.
Despite a salary cut and increased workload, over 100 faculty and staff have been sent home, not have their contract renewed or signed on to the voluntary separation package. This was justified by the President’s unilateral declaration of financial exigency at the institution. Under a state of financial exigency, there should not be any new hiring, but the President continues to hire his compatriots from Trinidad to fill high positions at the University. So while over 100 Belizeans were sent home, the President continues to hire his people while the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and the Minister are turning a blind eye to these things.
The President spent much needed funds on a School of Medicine. Did he do a study to analyze the need for such a school when our sister nation, Cuba offers Belizeans dozens of scholarships every year? Why would a Belizean spend thousands of dollars to study medicine at UB when they can do so for free in Cuba? This is just one of the Presidents’ wild and irrational decisions. Both the President and Vice President have a dictatorial management style. They make decisions on their own and faculty and staff just have to accept it.
Lecturers are overworked and are stressed out, but these two administrators show little care for their well-being. They promised the Lecturers a $500 technology grant to help with the delivery of quality lessons from home as part of the University adjusting its teaching due to COVID-19. The semester is almost over and the Lecturers alleged that they haven’t received their technology grant.
The President hasn’t been in office since the pandemic hit in March of this year. He is back in his home country of Trinidad and is allegedly still collecting his huge salary while UB is paying his house rent here in Belize. Talk about wasting taxpayers’ money!!!
The President comes on national television and herald that we need more PhDs, however, his actions de-incentivize anybody with a PhD to want to work at UB. A person with a PhD coming into the University automatically gets the rank of Assistant Professor. However, after four (4) increments they reach a bar, which blocks them from any further increment. These Assistant Professors have to publish 15 scientific papers in international journals in order to cross the bar and be promoted to Associate Professor. Just imagine having to publish 15 scientific papers at a University that does not promote research and development and does not spend on research at the University.
Lecturers are overworked with different courses to teach and don’t even have the time to carry out research. So most Doctors are stuck at the bar on the salary scale and will probably not see another increment before they retire. There is no bar on the salary scale for people with Master’s degree so there are Lecturers with Master’s degree at the University making more money than those with PhDs. Does that sound like any incentive?
I call on the Government of Belize to take a closer look at what is happening at the University of Belize and the dictatorship of President Clement Sankat and how he is tearing our beloved University apart.
NB: Sheron ‘Sharon’ Palacio served as the Director of Development at the University of Belize from 2002 to 2003 and then moved on to serve as the Director of Student Services, a post she held for 17 years until her retirement in September 2020.
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