The suffering of 25 Liberian Students who were sent on scholarship to Egypt in pursuit of higher education appears to be far from over as the student leadership has written a new letter outlining their present distress.
In their recent letter, the students re-echoed their appeal to the Government of Liberia (GOL) to restore their allowances reportedly discontinued four years ago.
Education Minister Etmonia Tarpeh’s director of communications, J. Maxim Bletahn, told the Daily Observer via mobile phone yesterday that the plight of the students in Egypt had not reached the MOE authorities.
However, Mr. Bletahn promised to bring the matter to the attention of Minister Tarpeh, for “immediate and appropriate action.” He did not indicate when the MOE would intervene.
It may be recalled that the 25 students earned the scholarships through the MOE and were vetted by both GOL and the Egyptian Embassy in Monrovia to undertake undergraduate studies at universities in Cairo, in 2011.
The students are appealing to the GOL through the MOE and the Inter-Ministerial Scholarship Committee at the Civil Service Agency (CSA), which vetted them in 2011, to restore their allowances.
In their latest letter, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, the students argued that on September 3, 2012, they gathered at the premises of the Liberian Embassy near Cairo and condemned the “cruel treatment” being meted out to them.
After their protest, the letter continues: The Ambassador, Alexander H. N. Wallace, III terminated all student related services at the Embassy and even warned that any student that attempted to reach the Embassy for any service “would be doing so to his/her own detriment.”
The letter noted that after three months of failure to address their plight, they again converged on the Embassy grounds on November 5, 2012, to call the attention of GOL to their plight.
“Unfortunately, they were all arrested and placed behind bars by the Egyptian National Police authority on the alleged order of the Ambassador.”
Some of the students who managed to escape arrest communicated to George K. Werner, head of the Ministerial Scholarship Committee to seek their release, but allegedly, nothing was done.
They recalled that the Egyptian government, through its National Police, later ordered their release, “since, in fact, we pleaded not guilty to the allegations leveled against us by the (Liberian) Embassy.”
“In line with the aforementioned, Mr. Werner demanded that before he did anything about our plights, we must apologize to the Ambassador for going to the Embassy. The demanded apology letter experienced no delay, and was filed on October 28, 2013,” the students’ letter said.
“After meeting all demands by Mr. Werner, we experienced nothing regarding the solution to our plight.” Werner, the students said, has remained completely silent about their wellbeing.
Meanwhile, six bilateral scholarship beneficiaries were deleted from the beneficiary list and termed as illegitimate students for no explained reason from the scholarship committee, said the students.
The students’ letter of apology was signed and approved by the secretary-general of the Liberia Student Union in Egypt, Lansana M. Kabbah and the president, Mohammed A. Kiawhen.
The students are Abdulla M. Barry, Abdullah O. Syllah, Alieu M. Jalieba, Sheik K. Sesay, Yusuf Swaray, Losene A. Dukuly, Abduasise A. Dakawah, Abraham Z. M. Kromah, Seliaman A. Kanneh, and Mohammed A. Kiawhen.
The rest are Alieu A. Kiazolu, Mustapha M. Sheriff, Fuad F. Nyei, Alieu V. Kamara and Sekou M. Sherif, Alieu F. Sheriff, Mustapha M. Kromah, Kalifa M. Kamara, Sekou A. Barry and Mohammed M. Turay.