In-country SIG students victimised again by allowance delay


GOVERNMENT sponsored students at the USP campus in Honiara are again being victimised by delay in allowances.

This week is week-9 of semester 2 and they are still to receive anything.

Last semester, in-country SIG-sponsored students received their allowances after the semester was over, in July and August. Some are yet to receive theirs.

The Ministry of Education (MEHRD) when sought for comments said this matter is the responsibility of SITESA (Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority).

SITESA has not responded to enquiries sent to it by this paper.

About 200 government-sponsored students are studying at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Solomon Islands campus.

A group of frustrated SIG students took to media their dilemma saying the DCGA Government is creating a new practice towards in-country students whereby they receive their allowance at the end of the semester.

This practice is reportedly a hallmark of the DCGA government, one senior student said, adding that this is not the first time in-country SIG-students are being “treated unfairly”.

It is understood that allowances for SIG students in regional institutions are being paid on time.

Only Solomon Islands-based SIG students are facing this allowance delay problem.

These students are up against Honiara’s high cost of living, costs of travelling, costs internet data, costs of printing, scanning, photocopying, costs hiring or borrowing learning accessory resources such as laptops, tablets, etc, to do their schooling with.

Many of these students are bunking in with relatives in Honiara, and it is shameful for them to be unable to contribute to sustaining their households by way of food or other.

With these challenges plus many more, some students have reportedly dropped a course or two, while others are anticipating that it is likely they will fail at least one of their courses.

“Please, we need money to help us navigate this semester. We need financial backing to pay for our needs such as busfare, books, pens, foods, data,” one of the students said.

“We are now into our week nine but we are yet to receive our allowances,” another adds.

Jeffery Junior Maesala, the SIG USP Solomon Islands Student Association President when approached for comments said approximately 200 students are currently studying in-country at the SI campus in Honiara.

Mr Maesala said the delay in disbursing student stipends has been a major concern for students, it affects their welfare and learning, and has also resulted in students not satisfying the scholarship requirement of passing at least 75% of the total course enrolled in each semester.

The SIG student president said with most students undergoing online learning due to no face-to-face learning available in the USP Solomon Islands Campus, internet connectivity is crucial for accessing online tutorials and lectures, as well as submitting assessments via Moodle learning platform.

“Unfortunately, the slow disbursement of student allowances has affected their online experiences and learning. Many lectures and tutorials are mandatory and contribute towards their final marks, making it even more critical for students to have access to timely stipend disbursement, that student can be able to purchase mobile data plan to make things more convenient for themselves.

“To make matters worse, many students are yet to receive vendor number, which are required to access their allowances on time. This has further exacerbated the issue and caused undue stress for students who are already struggling to cope with the demands of online learning.

“It is important for the relevant authorities to take swift action to address this issue and ensure that students receive their stipends on time. Failure to do so will continue to adversely affect the welfare and learning outcomes of students.

“We are now in week 9 of the USP academic calendar, and the slow of SIG disbursement of student allowances has been frustratingly slow,” Maesala said.

Meanwhile, MEHRD when contacted for comments advised that the paper sought comments from SITESA regarding allowance issues.

“I was advised any issue of scholarship, SITESA office is a better position to respond. SITESA is an institution of its own that operates separately from MEHRD,” MEHRD Communication Officer Charles Kadamana told Island Sun when the paper followed up on its email to PS Franco Rodie this week.

An email sent to the new SITESA Director of Scholarship Unit Mr John Iromea for comments remained unanswered.

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