Dear Editor – I contributed an article recently in which I praised the outstanding academic achievements of 31 year old Tammy Tambe from Wagina in South Choiseul who had recently received her PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Bergen in Norway.
Tammy had begun her high school studies at King George Sixth before moving on to get a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Marine Studies and a Postgraduate diploma in Marine Studies from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.
She later obtained a Master’s degree in Pacific Islands Studies from the University of Hawai’i, Manoa.
In the same article I recounted how Tammy had claimed that there was a lot of potential among Solomon Islanders to attain further education, but they needed more access to outside information on scholarships being offered abroad.
She called for a better dissemination of information to encourage and guide those interested in furthering higher education outside the Solomon Islands.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister, the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, was quoted by Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) saying, “Natural resources were running out and it was time to increase investment in human resources and encourage labour migration in the hope of increasing remittances to the islands.”
The RNZI report went on to say, “ Mr Sogavare’s comments are a deviation from the current government practice of seeking to keep university graduates in the country by employing them in the public service.
“Policy and planning officials in Honiara said this could be good news for the country, which has had success in the past with exporting qualified people overseas only to have it referred to as a ‘brain drain’.
“This perception is put down to many Solomon Islands graduates now working overseas having studied courtesy of government funded scholarships.”
Tammy Tambe’s success in working overseas, currently in Norway, could underscore the Prime Minister’s views on labour migration in anticipation of increasing remittances back home.
Presumably, however, Tammy was supported by the Solomon Islands Government while studying at the USP and then in Hawaii before attaining some form of scholarship to acquire her PhD in Norway.
The Leader of the Opposition, Dr Derek Sikua, yesterday morning, has called on the government through the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development to introduce “other” scholarship schemes in 2017.
He explained that the MEHRD must proceed with a thorough investigation of other schemes in view of what happened in recent media debates regarding the SIG scholarship awards announced for 2016.
It is my understanding that the government has already mandated the MEHRD in mid-June 2015 to investigate the various options or schemes for funding scholarships and report back to Cabinet for approval and implementation of the preferred options.
It is hoped that when the MEHRD does report to the Cabinet some recommendations will be included to provide information and guidance to those students keen to attain overseas scholarships from genuine sources in order to emulate the success already demonstrated by Tammy Tambe.
I have a particular interest in raising this issue because there are so-called Universities and Educational Institutions overseas offering degree programs that, prima facie, appear to offer the ideal solution to an aspiring student and one must take care because they are private institutions and their degrees are not officially recognised, not worth the paper written on, and a student with the money and the means to enter a distance study program with such an institution could be paying out money for nothing.
I have offered advice to several Solomon Islands students who have written to me recently and deterred them from signing up for distance education programs where I I have determined the institution or University was a private body.