The continuous protest by Solomon Island tertiary students, both overseas and locally, for an increase in their allowances need further scrutiny and consideration by responsible authorities. I think the need for the SIG to realistically look into the number and types of Government scholarships that it can afford to sustain over a given period of time is long overdue.
Given the current economic status of our country, the Government cannot afford to continue giving free handouts to students under the disguise of "Government Scholarships". It is common knowledge that the Government is not producing enough money to help sustain such a practice. Fortunately, the Taiwanese Government is sympathetic enough to support the SIG in terms of Scholarship expenses at the moment. But, this does not mean that the MEHRD should just expend all these money on allowances, to satisfy the desire of "allowance-hungry" tertiary students.
It is time that Solomon Islanders are made to realise that there is no such thing as a "free lunch". Our leaders need to make our young people realise the need for them to sweat their guts out in order to earn a living. I suggest that the SIG:
(1) reduce free government scholarships to a minimum, so that only the top 10% of students can be awarded such a scholarship on the basis of merit.
(2) reconsider giving free scholarship to all tertiary students, and stop the free handouts of scholarships to all tertiary students, as soon as possible.
(3) make available a Scholarship grant that potential tertiary students can apply for to meet their tertiary study expenses, and make provisions for them to obtain student loans in order to meet their tertiary study expenses. Of course, they have to repay this upon completion of their studies, or if they had to return due to non-completion of studies.
Just because the SIG has provided free scholarships in the past for all tertiary students, it does not mean it should continue to provide free scholarships for all tertiary student at the present time. Let us be realistic, we are living in difficult economic times and we need to take drastic measures to cut costs and sustain our country's economy for the benefit of every Solomon Islander.
To current SIG sponsored students at USP, Laucala Campus, may I suggest that you try and use your student allowances wisely. After all the SIG has been generous enough to support you financially in place of your own parents. I believe the amount you receive now for your allowances, is more than enough to last you for a year, if you take heed of Linda Miley's wise advice on how you should expend your 'free' student allowances.
Tertiary students scholarship and allowances
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Felisia Colley and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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