Ay Mehn

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We at the Liberian Observer Corporation are disheartened by the plight of the 25 Liberian students stranded in Cairo. Ay mehn. Are we as a nation and people not embarrassed? How do we treat our own like this?

How do we expect others to treat us any better?

Ay mehn. This is an affront to education itself in a country whose education system is admittedly already a mess. Why would we not push for every opportunity we can get to educate our people? We already import everything from food to rubber erasers, even with our wealth of natural resources and one of the world’s largest rubber plantations.

With a weak education system in house, we stand to benefit very little from foreign direct investment in qualitative terms. Corporations and NGOs will bring in foreign personnel to fill positions of corporate leadership if they cannot find qualified and trust worthy Liberians here. Not that there aren’t any, but they are few and far between.

Are we content to see our people occupy not much more than minimum wage positions as rubber tappers, truck drivers and security guards? What’s in it for us, then, in an FDI deal?

So 25 Liberian students went to Cairo in 2011 on scholarships arranged by the Ministry of Education. They were under the impression that they were there to study medicine, engineering, accounting and other disciplines badly needed in Liberia. Stipends were to be arranged by the Civil Service Agency and the Inter-Ministerial Scholarship Committee. Upon arrival in Egypt, the 25 were made to undergo Arabic and Islamic Studies. After several attempts to contact the MOE and the CSA, the students were informed that the program had been discontinued and ordered to return home.

Even after the Egyptian government agreed to allow the students to pursue their various disciplines provided the Liberian government sent a letter authorizing them to do so, nothing happened. The only logical explanation here is this: No money.

And so we ask the question. What happened to the money set aside for the students’ scholarships?

Besides the lost opportunity for Liberia, there is a humanitarian factor here. The students are stranded. Most importantly though, they are serious about their education. Against all hope, they are hoping that the program will be reinstated.

We hope that the Liberian government understands the risks here. With Boko Haram raging hell in Nigeria, we do not want these young men, out of disillusionment, attaching themselves to the wrong outfit.

We hope the government also recognizes what an embarrassment it would be not just for the young men were they to return home, but for the government of Liberia as well. It brands us as being unserious about ourselves about the future.

Even if the money is no longer there, since relations between Egypt and Liberia are so cordial, wouldn’t Egypt be willing to facilitate the students’ stay in Egypt?

We urge the GoL and the government of Egypt to find an amicable solution to this problem for the development and betterment of our two nations.

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