Scores of Liberian students studying in Morocco may not enroll this semester because of the Government of Liberia’s (GOL) failure to settle their allowances for close to nine months now; a situation that is causing serious embarrassment for the students.
The students said the Ministry of Education’s failure to meet up with its obligation for the second quarter of the school year, which has now been delayed for an additional three months, has brought unbearable hardships on them.
There are 63 Liberian students currently enrolled in that country, and are members of the umbrella organization, Liberian Student Association in Morocco (LISAM), with over half of them on government scholarships, though some are not on the allowance arrangement.
The government, through MOE, has a Memorandum of Understanding with the students to give them US$2,400 every six months for their upkeep. But according to the students, the amount has been very difficult to come by.
When it comes, it is delayed by up to three to four months. The last time government paid their allowances, they said, was in January; and this was after a three months delay.
Speaking to the Daily Observer in Marrakech last week, two members of LISAM, Steward Borbor and Gardawheh, lamented their ordeal. The students said they have made several attempts to get to Minister of Education George
Werner and other MOE authorities to have the problem resolved, but to no avail.
“This is a complete humiliation for us here because schools are about to open and we are yet to receive anything from our government to prepare ourselves for the semester,” Borbor said.
“Government usually pays us twice a year after every six months, like this January (1st and 2nd quarter) and July (3rd and 4th quarter). They paid us for our 1st and 2nd quarter of this year in April, instead of January. Now we are awaiting our 3rd and 4th quarter, which were to be paid in July. So for 9 months now, we are still awaiting a 6-month pay,” said Borbor, who is the Secretary General of the association.
The students are afraid that they may not enroll this upcoming semester, which began yesterday (Monday September 19).
Borbor is a graduating senior at the Faculte Des Sciences et Technique (CADI-AYYAD) in the Moroccan tourist city of Marrakech. He is on the verge of obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree in Water and Environmental
Management. Boe is a junior student at Faculty Des Sciences (CADI-AYYAD) in the same city. He is studying Geology.
Unfortunately, Borbor said some of the students are on the verge of being put out of their apartments because they can no longer pay their rents.
“The situation is getting worse because some of us will soon be put out of our apartments because we have overstayed and our landlords are now tired with our promises. We want to appeal to the government to please help us because we have gone too far to be let down,” he said.
An apartment in Marrakech, where Borbor and Boe reside, costs US$300 being the least expensive. Marrakech, like other Moroccan cities, is a tourist center, and as such, it is quite expensive to live there. “I think we are now being humiliated by the government for the past nine months. And it appears that government has abandoned us,” Borbor.
Because of the cost of apartments in the country, three or four students have to put their resources together to acquire one. “We usually do this to cut down costs and this has been helping us. We decided to take advantage of this grand opportunity to come here and study because our parents are poor people; and we thought this could be the best opportunity to take our families out of poverty, but the situation is becoming a complete frustration for us.
“We agree the school is free, but you have to be in the right state of mind to concentrate on the lessons. This has been difficult for us. Our allowances, since our arrival here, have to be delayed by two to three months, and this is indeed frustrating,” Boe said, adding, “In some instances we have to go to some of our colleagues, especially Nigerians and Ghanaians, to use their internet services to do our research. And most of the times we are mocked.”
Said Borbor: “At this time, we are frustrated and have nothing else to do, because we have nowhere to get anything from. We are students and students are not allowed to work in this country.”
“Schools are opening on the 19th (which was Monday) and we don’t have anything to start with. As students we need internet, books to do research and other work, but we do not have money to start school, and this is too bad for us.”
This reporter tried to contact the Minister of Education, George Werner, who does not usually answer calls. I also sent him a text message asking for his response to the students’ assertions, but he did not reply up to press time.
MOE Public Relations Director Maxim Bleetan’s phone rang endlessly without a response when this reporter called.