BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
AROUND 200 USP SI Campus students left out from SIG’s Scholarship awards this year stood for almost five hours yesterday in front of the Government Caucus Office to make an appeal.
In receiving their formal letters from admissions, these students studying at various degree levels at the University of the South Pacific (USP) were not able to receive award letters as it is understood that only 700 government scholarships were awarded.
They are calling on the national government to increase the number of scholarship awards for the benefit of the country in terms of human resource development.
“There have not been any changes to the usual number of in-takes for each year under scholarships in which it should be increased. We all deserve to further our education for the benefit of this country,” said the students’ representative Mr Floyd Maepioh to Island Sun.
“We had already approached the National Training Unit (NTU) and the Ministry of Education over our request in which they directed us to the Government Caucus.
“If our application does not work out then it looks like we will only be continuing studies in the country for this year.”
These students are said to be applying for different institutions in the region.
They said that they had already approached Caucus last week Friday in which they advised them to make a formal letter showing the list of their names including their GPAs, programmes of study and signatures.
“We handed in our formal letter as requested and we are now only waiting for response,” said Maepioh.
Attempts to contact NTU, the Ministry of Education and Caucus for comments over the matter were not possible.
It is reported the students were given assurance by Caucus that they’ll meet over their appeal today and will let them know of the outcome decision.
“Our appeal should be quickly dealt with because it is already Week Two of university programmes,” said concerned students.
Currently, the Parliamentary Opposition Group is also calling on the Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) to increase its scholarship awards to 2000.
This is to cater for the increasing number of Solomon Islanders who deserve to undertake further studies both in-country and abroad.
Opposition Leader Manasseh Maelanga said the current 700 government scholarship awards are simply inadequate.
This number stands for 200 scholarships administered by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, 400 scholarships, through Members of Parliament constituency awards, and 100 partially-funded scholarship awards targeting citizens who are able to partly fund their tertiary studies.
Maelanga said the number of Solomon Islanders who complete their secondary education at the Form 6 and Form 7 level annually is growing rapidly, let alone the number of working class who either need tertiary educational training or further tertiary training.
He said SIDCCG as the current political government in charge of Solomon Islands Government is obliged under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to provide adequate educational opportunities for Solomon Islands citizens and it must fulfil this obligation.
The Opposition Leader said any decision to reduce the number of government scholarships by the SIDCCG will be a slap in the face of Solomon Islanders and serious non-compliance with Solomon Islands UN obligations.
Maelanga elaborated that if SIDCCG cannot fund its existing 700 scholarship awards and additional scholarships then it must secure funding to meet this obligation.