Scholarship Students Sell To Survive In Cuba

Prof Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, Minister of Education

Medical students on government scholarships in Cuba have reportedly resorted to selling their personal belongings in order to make a living.

According a Joy FM report, the students claimed it was the only option left for them since government had failed to pay them their allowances for over nine months now.

They have continuously sent SOS messages to the government for help but to no avail.

An affected student, who gave his name as Enoch, called into the radio station to vent his frustration at the development and said he and his colleagues could not come by certain basic needs.

‘Those who don’t have parents to be sending them money have to be borrowing from friends; we are doing business among ourselves. If you have something you think you can sell to someone or someone will buy, you sell it. If you have enough dresses you think someone will buy, new shirt anything’ Enoch was quoted as saying.

The situation is so serious that ‘six students are sharing one soap and [tooth] pasteIt is shameful,’ he complained.

Siezed Passports
The students claimed that they were unable to find jobs because their passports were taken from them ‘for safe keeping’ by the Ghanaian Embassy when they arrived in that country in 2012.

‘We’ve had several meetings with the embassy and the only thing they tell us is that they’ve not received any money from the government. Our passports have been taken (from us)so we can only get our passports to travel when we are going back to Ghana,’ he bemoaned.

‘There are so many of us who even want to stop the course and come back (to Ghana),’ another student posited.

About 250 students left Ghana for Cuba in 2012 to study in different fields of medicine with scholarship from the government.

According to the government, the students were selected from deprived areas across the country and billed to stay in Cuba for six years.

While in Cuba, the government was expected to remit each student $250 every month for their upkeep.

However, government has apparently failed to support the students as it promised, causing them to resort to other forms of income generation to support their education.

Robbery Incident
In early April this year, Ghanaians were inundated with news that three of the students had been arrested in Cuba for an alleged robbery incident in a hotel.

The three – all males – were said to be children of some high-level public officials, including a deputy minister of state, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs later confirmed the arrests.

United Kingdom
Students in the United Kingdom have also been complaining about a similar treatment being meted out to them by the government.

They claimed that even though no student had been sacked from the various universities, their accounts were suspended until the tuition fees were paid for the 2013/2014 academic year.

They also claimed that their living allowances had been in arrears in the past 10 months (Since September, 2013).

Some of the affected students are in the universities of Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham, Reading and Bradford.

By William Yaw Owusu

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