Students of the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine are calling on the Liberian Government and the University of Liberia (UL) Administration to settle their stipends owed them for the past eight months.
The students, represented by their leaders, including K. Mugabe Pojah, student representative to the UL Faculty Senate, and Gassimu Kaba, a third year medical student president, sounded their appeal on December 16 in an interview with the Daily Observer.
According to the student representatives, they were ‘catching hell’ since the government promised to allot US$200 to each student of both Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy to be received monthly.
The student representatives said they had also been promised tuition waiver scholarships for the years they are in school. These, too, however, were not forthcoming.
They told the Observer that the government’s intent is to support them so that upon completion of their medical studies they would, in turn, serve the health sector.
However, the students said this process, though it began well as they were regularly receiving said stipend, “it has turned disastrous over the past eight months, as we hardly receive any amount from the Fiscal Affairs office of the University of Liberia.”
“When this stipend payment was renewed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, we received US$200 each. But after a few months, complaint came from Fiscal Affairs office that they were not receiving money from the government and so they have to go into an undergraduate account to pay us L$16,000, which did not match the equivalent value of the US$200,” Mugabe noted.
The student representatives said they were issued checks at one point in time, and were obliged to go to the bank where they found it difficult to cash the checks.
From these retrogressive instances, the student leaders stressed that they hardly receive any money from the UL authority, which usually tells them that the government has not approved their money in the fiscal budget.
As the holiday season approaches, the two medical students lamented, their families depend on them to provide the necessary support. However, as people without jobs, due to the full-time nature of their studies, they are financially stranded, thus relying only on what government gives them as stipend.
They therefore appealed to the government and UL Administration to exert every effort to pay at least three out of the eight months for now, “so that we too may be able to enjoy the Season with our families.”
Mr. Gassimu Kaba specifically noted that they are so far the only Liberians studying at the Medical College, and will be here to help the government, “It will send a bad signal to those who want to enter the Medical field, because if they hear of the sufferings we are encountering, they will surely divert to other areas of study and abandon the field that is so cardinal to the survival of Liberians.”
When contacted, the Dean of the Medical College, Dr. Vuyu K. Golakai, confirmed that the students’ stipend had not been forth coming, “because the government has not given the University of Liberia any money.”
He said the faculty and staff of the institution have not been paid for the past three months because of the same reason.