Thursday, 30 July 2009 12:22 PM

USP Student Allowance

The issue here is the SI government decision to cut students' allowances at a time when the Fiji dollar has been devaluated and the inflation rate sky rocketing that subsequently hiking the standard of living beyond the research of many SIG sponsored students. In my assessment, the SI government decision is both irresponsible and heartless.

Forget about the blame shifting. The SI government cannot expect students to concentrate and perform to the best of their ability when their welfare is in tatter and under enormous stress. This is a simple equation that needs no rocket scientist to assist us comprehend its magnitude. If the issue with the SI government is financial affordability then the current SI executive government with a Prime Minster, an educationist, Deputy Prime Minister, a business administrator and a Minister of Education, an accountant , should fix their in-house expenditures to save money.

My suggestion is expenditures such as (1) SIG funded overseas trips, (2) CDF, (3) dubious politicians' allowances, (4) $50,000.00 per politician spouse allowance, (5) non-priority programs etc should be chopped and funds channel to provide new and top-up existing scholarships. Within a year or two, the SIG would save heaps of funds and in a better position to provide and sustain scholarships for current and future scholarship holders. The suggestion that the SIG should abolish scholarships to students is irresponsible. Even developed countries such as Australia and New Zealand, with 80-90 percent of their populations working in paid employments and can afford to pay for the education of their children, governments are still providing scholarships for their young population - from primary to University. In the case of SI, 90 percent of the population are unemployed so how could parents afford to pay for the education of their children? The suggestion is both short sighted and selfish.

Talking about priority - we shouldn't revert back to the years of the former Manasseh Sogavare post coup led government in 2001, when it decided at the beginning of the year to freeze over 100 scholarships of returning and new students to both USP and UPNG. Later in the year, it was revealed that during that same month, the SI government paid about $1 million to a single ex-militant leader. This was an insult to any intelligent person. But it happens in the Solomons.

So if there is any good thing to come out of this government, which has been taking and making strange and unprecedented decisions in recent time, then it has to be the issue of immediately taking actions in addressing the welfare of the future leaders of the country at USP. Both the PM and his Deputy were former USP graduates, so they should know it better how worrisome and humiliating to live under constant financial difficulties and harassments from landlords, who have often chasing around SI sponsored students for non-payment of rentals even up to months, not because of their (students) fault, but purely the failure of the SI government to pay students' allowances on time.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Duran Angiki and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
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