Government Abandons Liberian Scholarship Students in Morocco?
Monrovia – Liberian scholarship students studying in Morocco are said to be struggling in that North African nation as a result of them not receiving their allowances for many months from the Liberian government.
Recently on social media, these students posted that they are financially stranded and are suffering because their government has not sent their allowance after several pleads to the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
Student leader John Saylay Singbae, II 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.
“As I speak to you, old students have been thrown out of their apartments and cannot even afford transportation to attend classes or pay bills. The new batch of 54 students, including the WASSCE dux have not started classes because they have no money to rent apartments, pay bills, transport themselves to school, purchase school materials. We are experiencing sad times; this is the hard truth,” said Singbae II.
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.
The Liberian government has regularly sent students under the MOU with the hope that upon their return after they have completed their studies, they would return and serve in various areas of government.
“It’s sad that since these students were sent in 2018 of November, the government has refused to send allowances. The student leadership here has done numerous engagements, including reaching out to the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance and Development and Planning and all concerned authorities, but nothing has been done,” Singbae lamented.
“We do not wish to raise our voices to government, but the situation is just unbearable, so we have to do so. Currently, even comrades that are sick here cannot afford to seek medical attention. Things are bad; we hope the government responds favorably to this emergency,” he pleaded.
In reaction to the students’ plight, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, through its Communications Director, Patience Senkpeni-Kumeh, told this newspaper that payment is in progress. She refused to comment further.
However, the Ministry of Education has admitted to the students’ accusation and said they are working on things.
Speaking to journalist at his Sinkor office, Theophilus Snorton, Director for Scholarship at the Education Ministry, boasted that the government of Liberia for the first time, rented six additional apartments for students, who were not accepted for boarding because the Moroccan government could not take all of the students. It is apparently from those apartments that Singbae alleges that his colleagues are being thrown out from because they have not paid their rent.
“Since November of last year, we have processed all the necessary documents regarding the students’ allowances and have sent them to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for the processing and the payment, yet we have not received any payment of checks to be disbursed to students abroad,” said Snorton.
According to him, his Ministry did not make the request for only the students in Morocco but all scholarship students abroad. He disclosed that authorities at the Ministry of Finance told them there was no money and that they were trying to generate fund and everything was being processed.
He further disclosed that the Finance Ministry has assured them that by Wednesday, July 10th, they will provide funding for two quarters, which is six months.
According to him, they had asked the Finance Ministry for the full nine months of allowance owed the students.
He expressed his concerns for the WASSCE dux and her six colleagues; adding: “They are very young to be stranded in a strange land.”
“As a father, I feel bad to have my 16-year-old child stranded in a strange land. So, we are very worried because only three of the seven students who dux the WASSCE, were above 21, but the rest were 16 and 17. However, we have a liaison office, which is working at the Liberia Embassy to take care of them, while they are there.”
The Scholarship Director called on the students to remain calm and patient as they work out things for their money to be disbursed to them.