Dear Editor - In light of AMA’s saga and to ease with the financial crisis I think its high time, MEHRD should re-think its scholarship scheme and redesign its policy towards offering tertiary education loan schemes (TELS) instead of this free mentality of government sponsorship which started some 40 years ago during-pre-independence era.
Furthermore, MEHRD should abolished its policy for sponsoring of non-specialize Higher degrees at Australian and New Zealand universities.
If one wants to study at these universities, be man enough and find scholarship on merit from these universities, don’t come back crying again to the Solomon Islands Government to foot your half a million dollars bill at these universities.
Based on such a back drop, I think following points should form the basis for idea generation and discussion on the subject matter.
(1) PhD & Masters:
I strongly believe that students should NOT depend on the MEHRD to fund their PhD& Masters scholarship in Australia, NZ, USA or UK as most of the universities in these countries do offer scholarships at these levels. There is however exception on this caveat if a particular program or field of study cannot be offered within the region.
It’s a shameful to depend on MEHRD to sponsor PhD and Masters in these countries, as if you do, you are denying many more of your own people, children mainly youth’s access to essential services, such as health, basic education, and other socio-economic services.
Most of the PhDs & Masters can now be offered by regional universities. MEHRD should concentrate on sending her students to these universities.
Like earlier points raised, priority should be given to students to study at SINU, USP, and UPNG, FNU etc. (Gradually SINU & USP as we either own or partly own these two institutions) and fees are relatively cheaper for the government to afford.
(3) AMA & Philippines & Australia, NZ etc. - You may still continue to study at these institutions but at your own or parent’s expenses. The MEHRD should only be sending students to these countries only if programs are not provided at regional universities.
(4) Politically endorsed scholarship- The selection of candidates to this award must be given to NTU office and should not be tampered with. In the longer run this policy should be retired and abolished.
(5) Lastly, MEHRD should be now moving towards offering Tertiary Education Loan scheme (TELS) and abolish this free hand out, scholarship scheme currently being practiced. This will shift the ownership on the borrower or the student to work really hard and ensure that they successfully complete their studies on time.
If we do this, MEHRD will train quality human resources efficiently and effectively. People will have ownership to their education and ensure they complete their studies on a timely manner. This means more money will be freed for other development and social issues, such health, primary education (which is required by UN- providing basic education to all), investment, infrastructure development and climate change adaptation as an emerging issue at the moment. Higher Degree scholars must apply to NZ, Australian Aid or Universities as Graduate Assistance for their hefty study bills. This will ensure that the country cash flow is rectified and money is well spent where is necessary not for individual benefit but for the common benefit of all.
Michael O Ha'apio BA, PGDip, MBA, MSc
PhD Candidate/ Graduate Assistance
Pacific Centre for Environment & Sustainable Development (PACE-SD)
University of the South Pacific (USP)
Laucala Campus (Marine Campus)