By Amin Kef-Ranger
The long drawn impasse related to the payment of fees for students studying at the Limkokwing College in Freetown, who are purportedly on Government scholarship, seem to reaching some form of resolution by the SLPP led Government headed by President Julius Maada Bio.
It could be recalled that the erstwhile Government led by former President Ernest Bai Koroma, through the Ministry of Education under the leadership of the late Minkailu Bah as Minister of Education entered into an agreement with authorities of the Limkokwing College, which has its roots in Malaysia, under a scheme where the erstwhile Government of Sierra Leone agreed to pay the fees of over one hundred students on a scholarship basis from start up to completion.
However, when the then Government was defeated in the polls in 2018 by the current SLPP Government led by President Julius Maada Bio, it left behind a huge arrear of fees that were to be paid on behalf of the students. The newly formed Government rescinded to continue to adhere to or honour the former agreement leaving the students to be stranded as they were denied access to lectures. These aggrieved students, as well as certain Civil Society Organizations, mounted various lobbying techniques, some peaceful and others violent, to convince the SLPP led Government to continue paying their fees but to no avail.
As the pressure mounted, the SLPP Government succeeded in getting a 50% discount on all fees through a renegotiation. Currently, there are two categories of students at the University: Final Year and Year Two Students both pursuing Diploma and Degree courses.
The million dollar questions that many are now asking for clarity sake is what the aforementioned 50% payment would translate into. Is it for the final year students pursuing both Diploma and Degree courses leading to their graduation or does it also include the current year two students?
It will be recalled that the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, informed members of the public that the Government has committed to pay the sum of USD 705 thousand which is equivalent to 50 percent fees for 964 Sierra Leonean students at the Limkokwing University.
This revelation came in the long wake of students who were on scholarship at Limkokwing having to stop attending lectures for over two years now, after the Government refused to pay their fees, saying that the agreement between the University and the previous administration was illegal.
For now it is a wait and see situation to know if the impasse will come to an end.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper