Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of Education is reviewing its entire system for supporting students on higher education scholarships inside and outside the country, to see whether an increase in funds for the students is justified.
At the opening on Monday of a meeting of the National Scholarships Council, the director of the Education Ministry’s Scholarship Institute (IBE), Octavio de Jesus, said that this reflection arises after complaints from students that the money they receive is inadequate to pay for their basic expenses.
Recently Mozambican students in Algeria and Russia demanded an increase in the value of their scholarships.
Octavio de Jesus told reporters that currently 2,760 Mozambican students receive scholarships, a figure that includes students abroad, as well as those studying at Mozambican universities.
Despite this apparent knowledge of the number of students abroad, the Ministry has been trying to draw up a list of the number of Mozambicans studying outside the country, many of whom have used their own resources to pay for their studies. De Jesus said that so far 1,600 students have replied to this survey, of whom 700 are scholarship holders.
He said that some students are reluctant to take part in the survey, on the grounds that it will make no difference to their lives. They said they are using their own (or their families’) funds to study, and appear suspicious of the motives behind the survey.
De Jesus stressed that this census of students abroad “does not mean controlling them or diverting them from what they are doing, but simply to know where they are and what courses they are following”.
This would enable the government to provide them with consular support if necessary. A clear example of this need was the situation of Mozambican students in Sudan, who sought assistance after losing scholarships that had been granted by Islamic organisations.
“The students were there but the Ministry of Education didn’t know about them, because they were not our scholarship-holders and they were not registered”, said de Jesus. “Even though the Ministry was not paying for them, when they had problems, we solved them because, in the first place, they are Mozambican citizens”.
“So the census is intended to find out exactly which Mozambicans are studying abroad, what courses they are studying, when they will return, and what contribution they will make to the country’s development”, he added.
De Jesus said that this year the IBE scholarship budget is 170 million meticais (about 5.9 million US dollars). This has to cover university fees, transport and living costs (except in cases where the host countries offer to pay for some or all of these costs). De Jesus admitted that the ideal IBE budget would be at least 200 million meticais a year.