Parents of Students in Morocco Express Frustration over ‘Abandonment’ by Liberian Government
MONROVIA – Parents of Liberian scholarship students in Morocco are concerned about the well-being of the children and relatives amid the failure of the Liberian government to live up to its obligations towards the students abroad.
“It is hard to talk,” Ma Konah (not real name) told FrontPageAfrica. She preferred hiding her true identity, fearing that her comments would be taken political against her by the government. However, she is very worried about her son being so young and far from home not receiving the welfare he deserves.
“Which parent would have his or her young child far away from home and not worry about their wellbeing, most especially when you hear the disturbing news of children being thrown out of their apartments because the rent has not been paid by the government? But when you as a parent speak about it, people will put politics in it and brand you as opposition,” she said.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica via mobile phone, Ma Konah said her son and others on the scholarship abroad came out with flying colors when the WASSCE results were released. She said, Cuttington University, United Methodist University and the African Methodist Episcopal University offered them scholarships, but they decided to accept President George Weah’s scholarship offer.
According to Ma Konah, they as parents saw the President’s offer was a good gesture by having their children travel out of the country to gain solid education.
“I make US$150.00 monthly and just as I tied my stomach for my son to graduate from high school, it is the same way I was going to tie my stomach and deprive myself for him to go to any college. It is very worrisome for your child to go into a strange land and you start hearing news that he or she is abandoned. When I send him money, I have to send it in his friend’s name because he is underage to receive money,” she lamented.
The Government of Liberia has 84 scholarship students in Morocco. Of that number, seven are students who performed exceptionally well in last year’s West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). Majority of them are under 18.
John Saylay Singbae, a Liberian student leader in Morocco, described the situation he and his colleagues are faced with as deplorable. He said most of them have been thrown out of their apartments and class. According to Singbae, they are currently surviving by being helpful to each other through the remittance sent by some of their parents and relatives in Liberia and other parts of the world.
“When I think of how we’re suffering here, I cry sometimes,” he said.
He added: “When I do visit my students and see the ones that have dropped from school to seek comfort with friends and others that sleep with hungry stomach, especially the kids that dux the WASSCE I can cry. Why did the Government choose to treat them as migrants?”
“I make US$150.00 monthly and just as I tied my stomach for my son to graduate from high school, it is the same way I was going to tie my stomach and deprive myself for him to go to any college. It is very worrisome for your child to go into a strange land and you start hearing news that he or she is abandoned. When I send him money, I have to send it in his friend’s name because he is underage to receive money.”– Ma Konah (Not real name), Mother of a Scholarship Student in Morocco
Both the Ministries of Finance and Education told FrontPageAfrica that they were working out modalities to pay at least six of the nine months arrears in allowance owed the students when the story was first reported over a fortnight ago.
However, the Ministry of Finance is yet to transfer the fund to Morocco.
Deputy Minister for Administration at the Education Ministry, Latim Da Thong, said they are still working on the process to transfer the money to the students.
When asked as to whether the government is paying one quarter out of the three quarters, he said, “I am not sure, but we are still working on the details and we are trying to do the best we can,” he said.
While the students are still hopeful, Singbae said the condition is getting worse as some of the students are sick and cannot even afford to go to the hospital for treatment.
Singbae explained that the bilateral scholarship agreement between the two countries’ governments has existed for over 50 years and is geared towards educating Liberian students in higher disciplines. According to him, the Moroccans are only to provide institutions for Liberia students to enable them study in variety of disciplines. While the Liberian government is expected to fully be responsible for providing homes, feeding, transportation, money for school materials, health insurance, etc., for its students.
He pointed that currently, since 2013 scholarship students, who should have done their Master’s program ever since, are struggling like all others.
Last November, the government sent an additional 54 students, including the seven students, who performed extraordinarily in the WASSCE. This increased the Liberian students in that Kingdom to 84.