Liberia: Sonii, Findley Summoned Over Liberian Students Stranded in Morocco

-- Appearing before full, open plenary of the House of Representatives on Tuesday

The Minister of Education, Professor Dr. Ansu Dao Sonii and Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar M. Findley have been summoned by the House of Representatives to appear before the full Plenary to publicly testify on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 10:00 a.m., over the protest for the allowances of over 52 of the 84 Liberian scholarship students and the allegedly forceful and upsetting disruption of their protest in front of the Liberian Embassy by Moroccan Police.

On Tuesday, August 6, 2019, during the 49th day sitting, members of the House of Representatives unanimously expressed their dismay and concerns about the stranded Liberian scholarship students in a foreign land, whose living allowances have been delayed for 10 months. The delay by the Government of Liberia to disburse the students' allowances have resulted in many of them being unable to feed themselves or maintain their rented rooms or apartments or other living arrangements.

A peaceful protest, staged last week by the students on the grounds of the Liberian Embassy in Morocco, was short-lived when the Moroccan police stormed the Embassy and forcefully drove them from the Embassy premises.

Some of the students who can no longer afford their housing expenses have been evicted. Feeding themselves, according to them is now a big challenge and, when they fall sick, they have no means of seeking medical attention.

The Education Minister is expected to be escorted by the Comptroller and other technical staff to provide 'detailed information' on any payment or non-payment of allowances to the stranded Liberian students, including 'means and ways' of pending payments. Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry officials on North Africa Affairs will accompany Minister Findley.

The House's decision to summon the Education and Foreign Ministers was prompted by a communication from Grand Bassa County District #5 Representative, Thomas A. Goshua, II, who is also the Chairman of the Grand Bassa Legislative Caucus.

Protesting Liberian students display their placards at the Liberian Embassy in Morocco

"... I am inclined to petition Plenary to invite the Ministers of the Ministries of Education and Finance and Development Planning to this Plenary, device ways and means by which students in Morocco can received their stipends to enable them concentrate properly. Additionally, I pray Plenary to also query the Minister of Education to explain the rationale of the hike in tuition that has disenfranchised Liberians," Rep. Goshua said.

Liberian Students Dilemma in Morocco

Over 52 of the 84 stranded Liberian scholarship students in Morocco on Wednesday, July 31, stormed the Liberian Embassy with their belongings, including mattresses, blankets and suitcases, demanding to speak with their country's President, Mr. George Weah, for their 10-month allowances.

In a short video posted on social media by student leader John Singbae, some of his colleagues are seen with their blankets spread on the grounds of the Liberian Embassy. A few of them have been sleeping there since they were thrown out of their apartments.

It may be recalled, the Government has regularly sent students to Morocco under the MOU that, while the while the Moroccan government provided the students' tuition, the Liberian counterpart would be responsible for their students' monthly or quarterly allowances, until the completion of their studies. The students are to return and serve in various government agencies upon the completion of their studies.

Some of the Liberian scholarship students in the Kingdom of Morocco have been there since 2013, a number of them currently enrolled in graduated programs. The seven students who performed extraordinarily in the 2017/18 academic year WASSCE exams, are among the latest batch of scholarship students sent in November 2018. There were 54 students sent, plus the previous 30, a total of 84.

There are reports that the stranded Liberian students in Morocco who staged a peaceful protest at the Liberian Embassy there were forcefully removed from the premises of the Embassy. The students were protesting to draw the attention of the Liberian government to their plights.

The Government of Liberia has failed to send the students their allowances for the past 10 months. This has made life difficult for the students, some of whom are underaged.

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