Vanuatu Government Urged To Release Scholarship Monies

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Anti-corruption commission say students ‘stranded’ without funds

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 12, 2013) – The Vanuatu Anti-Corruption Commission (VACC) which was being set up by NGOs and CBOs who are members of the Vanuatu Association of Non-Government Organizations (VANGO) wants the government to ensure scholarships awardees return to their respective institutions to continue with their studies in 2013.

NGOs and CBOs in civil society expressed their concerns over the handling of government-sponsored students who are either stranded and or being eliminated altogether from the approved National Education Commission (NEC). Some students who should have traveled to the University of the South Pacific (USP) but are stranded due to nonpayment of airfares, tuition and allowances.

"These students have been selected by the NEC and officially awarded a Vanuatu Government scholarship to the USP in Fiji but could not travel and have been advised by the Scholarships Unit to wait," advised the VACC’s spokesperson.

Another case is the change of approved listing for returning students to the University of New Caledonia (UNC) for 2013. Students checked their 2012 exam results and they were all eligible to return to UNC this year.

"All returning students’ names appear on the approved listing for returning UNC students for 2013 until January 28, 2013 when the students listing was changed omitting some of the eligible and included those ineligible to continue. Students were being asked to collect their tickets from the Scholarships Unit on Monday January 28, 2013 and only to find the listing had been changed.

"Around 10 or so returning UNC students turned up at the Scholarships office on Monday 28th January, 2013 and were advised by Scholarships Officer, Mr. Peter Tari, that they are no longer on the approved list", said the Spokesperson.

The listing was being modified on instruction from the Minister. VACC sees this as a direct interference in the studies and future development of these young people and strongly condemns the actions of the Minister.

VACC urges the government to ensure that the USP students who are due to travel to Fiji and those new and eliminated UNC students be allowed to further their studies this year and to stop modifying the approved students listing for further studies on scholarships and improve the Scholarships Unit with qualified and professional staff.

It is obvious that there is much political and friend/family ties interferences in the selection of scholarships and should be stopped immediately. Scholarship awards should be based on merits and other areas of requirements as stated on scholarship criteria and not on political or family ties.

This is a violation to the UN Convention on the Rights of Children and "the right to education." Article 25 - Everyone has the right to be educated. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and Professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

It is obligatory for the Ministry of Education to comply with the UN Human Rights Conventions ratified and signed. This political/family interference in scholarship awards must be discontinued and awards granted on criteria based factors only.

Vanuatu scholars are victims of this education saga and we demand that all scholarship funds be utilized accordingly and justly to allow all returning students to resume their studies.

VACC is strongly calling on the Minister of Education to make sure that those responsible are accountable for their actions. This cannot continue to happen as the number of students every year is increasing and the Vanuatu Government must make sure that the Government policy on Education for All is for every citizen of this country especially the future generations of this country.

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