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Sierra Leone News: Government will honour commitment to pay tuition fees to Limkokwing  

In a notice signed by the Financial Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education on Monday 1 October 2018, the government will continue to pay tuition fees for students who were awarded scholarships at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology. In May 2018, the Government of Sierra Leone suspended payment of tuition fees for students of Limkokwing. According to a notice from the government, the reason for the suspension was to understand the basis of the scholarship awards. Each scholarship cost $3,000 USD and $2,500 USD per student for degree and diploma courses, respectively. On Monday 3rd September 2018, local staff members of the Limkokwing University at Hill Station mounted a strike action against ‘XL,’ which is the institution responsible to hire and manage staff welfare. Key amongst the issues raised by the 58 local staff was the late salary payment by XL Management and the salary disparity between the local staff members and the foreign tutors. After a meeting with the Ministry of Labour, the staff returned to work after seven days of strike action. According to the statement issued by the University management, “The former Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Minkailu Bah, awarded 1,081 diploma and 394 degree scholarships totalling $7,457,500 USD (approximately Le53.0 billion) for academic years 2016/2017 and 2017/2018.” The government paid an initial Le27,228 billion but left a debt of Le25.772 billion as of September 2018. An impasse developed where the previous government through Minister Bah committed to tuition scholarships and the present government needed clarification of the situation. President Bio directed both the Minister of Finance and Higher Education to resolve the impasse. The Government and the University agreed on the following points. The University will deduct 10% from the amount owing. The University reduced the government debt to Le23,195 billion to be paid over four months. The government will continue to pay for the scholarships awarded by the previous government. New students are at liberty to apply for scholarships under the existing grant-in-aid program or through any upcoming loan schemes. A student at the University, Daniel Sesay, said, “I am very happy to hear that the long-awaited impasse with regards to our university has been resolved. I just can’t wait to start the new academic year and meet with my friends.” Another student, Joseph Kamara, said that he was wondering if such impasse will be resolved, taking into cognisance the amount of money involved. Students from IPAM, Fatima Sesay and Michael Kalokoh, said they were shocked to read about the amount of money the government is going to pay for students to attend Limkokwing. They insisted the government should be supporting local universities like Fourah Bay College, IPAM and Njala before giving so much money to a foreign university. Kalokoh added, “We are struggling to get aid and only a few will get scholarships. The government should be allowing scholarships for us at our own universities.” The Le53 billion in scholarship awards given to Limkokwing for approximately 1,500 students over two years would support 10,000 students at Fourah Bay College. Students at FBC pay approximately Le2,500,000 per year in tuition versus the $3,000 or $2,500 USD at Limkokwing.

MJB/2/10/18

By Mohamed J. Bah

Wednesday October 03, 2018.

 

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