Monrovia — Eleven Liberian Students who have completed studies in China risk being imprisoned, if the government of Liberia delays getting them back before or by the end of September, according Education Minister Professor Ansu D. Sonii.
During his Senate appearance on Wednesday, Minister Sonii said he has been informed by the Chinese Ambassador accredited to Liberia that any delay by the government of Liberia to get the students out of China before September 28, they will have to go to prison.
Min. Sonii: "The students in China are 11 who have completed and I have to move quickly to get their tickets to come back because there is still no flight from China here. The Ambassador called me this morning that if those folks are not out of China by the 28th, they will go to jail.
"China is not like Morocco, when your time if out you must get on the plane and leave. We requested in July and they extended their stay up to the end of September. So, with the call from the Chinese Ambassador and the letter I have done to the Ministry of Finance, we are pursuing funds and we hope to get the tickets for those students or else they will go to jail and to free them from jail we have to pay 10 thousand RFD every day and free them from prison straight to the plane.
"They will put them in jail, the ambassador has told me he cannot do anything more."
Minister Sonii also informed the Senate that, Liberia has a total of 143 students in the diaspora. 61 in China, 72 in Morocco, 2 in the US, and 8 in India. According to him, Liberia's obligation to those in the U.S. is strictly limited to the allowances government pay. The students have been categorized, of the 143 students, 43 are doing Medical sciences.
"We have an issue with 25 students who have over stayed in Morocco, they had a contract with government for a four-year degree but some have stay there up to 10 years. People who are actually agitating about payment for allowances were the ones who have overstayed.
"We offered to bring them back because they have over stayed. Three have come back, the rest are still there."
He also informed members of the Senate about the Government of Liberia's new measures in granting foreign scholarship requires the parents of the student to commit to paying allowances of their child or children if government delays in payment.
"Because of the difficulties in paying allowances to students in the diaspora and it is not fair to refuse a bilateral offer because we don't have allowance, we asked students and their parents to sign an MOU that if government failed to get allowances to students, they (Parents) will pay and any parent who refuses child will not be sent," Min. Sonii said.
Suspending local government scholarship
Minister Sonii, in further comments also informed the senate that the Government of Liberia has suspended all local government scholarships because of the lack of liquidity to fund these scholarships. "Because of liquidity we were unable to respond to the obligation that rose close to a million dollars which force us to end the local scholarship program. By the time we ended this program there was over four hundred thousand dollars owe institutions.
"Over seven hundred local scholarship across 14 universities and colleges. Hopeful if our revenue base improve we should be able to begin to pay those amount and then we could resume the scholarship program for much needed students at the under graduate level."