Reduced because of poor management
By Gary Hatigeva
THE number of scholarships that are given out as part of a scholarship scheme for members of Parliament (MPs), with the privilege to send out students within their constituencies for studies, has been reduced from eight to two per constituency.
This was confirmed by the Minister for Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD) John Dean Kuku following a supplementary question in Parliament, during the Question and Answer session on Monday.
The Member of Parliament for East Malaita and Leader of Opposition, Manasseh Maelanga, had initially questioned the government over its number of scholarships given out in 2018, including the projected number for next year.
The East Malaita MP had suggested for the government to look at the reduced number of scholarships given to MPs, which he reminded that a lot of constituencies are benefiting from the programme.
He pointed out that constituencies have been using the scheme to include their students for the sake of human resources development within their constituencies.
Maelanga highlighted that while he understands it is a government policy decision, he thought the reduction is worrying, referring to a few matters raised by other members of the house, who complained over their list of candidates for scholarships, who are continuously being denied spaces or a given little priority attention, even when the number was still sitting at eight.
This was also a sentiment shared by a few members from the Government Bench that were interviewed, who expressed similar concerns on the areas of human resources developments for their constituencies.
But when asked over the justification, which lead to the reduction, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr Franco Rodie told Island Sun that there are a lot issues noted in this scheme that warranties actions.
“First and foremost, it is due to controversies surrounding the scholarship scheme, with a lot of issues regarding how it is being managed that continued to be noted and raised by the people.
“But there needs to be proper management of this scheme because with the ongoing issues noted, it also leads to a mismatch in the alignment of ministry’s priority areas of development needs, as far as the opportunity list is concerned, in terms of the needs and demands of the country,” Rodie revealed.
He explained that another controversial matter noted in this scheme is that selections made are not consistent with the Ministry’s programmes, as awardees get to choose their own interest on the field of studies, many of which are not inside the priority needs and demand of the country.
He further explained that the reduction is also a cost cutting measure decided upon by the government through the ministry, a matter in which the Minister had also make reference to in terms of affordability, and priority needs of the country.
He however stressed that after all, selection of those for scholarship should always be based on merits, which will then go back to fulfil the opportunity list that is based on the needs and demands of the country.
It has also been revealed that from a total of 700 scholarships given out this year under the three main categories, 400 were given out to constituencies through the MP’s Scholarship Scheme, with 285 allocated to the High Achievers list, and 15 to the cost sharing awards.
“All of which are consistent with the opportunity list, which is based entirely on the needs and demands of the country.”
Not only the number of Scholarships for the MPs Scheme is confirmed to be reduced, but the Minister has also revealed in Parliament, that the overall number of scholarships for all categories will also be reduced to 550 for 2019.
Out of this, 200 will be given to high achievers awards, 100 for constituency scholarships, 50 for cost sharing awards, and 200 for the new category that the ministry is looking to introduce next year on skilled training in technical institutes.