THE Government through the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MERHD) has denied the report that all privately sponsored students will pay for their own airfares during the three repatriation flights from the Philippines.
This follows report online that the three confirmed repatriation flights to be operated by Solomon Airlines are commercial ones which mean private sponsored students will have to pay their own fare home.
When contacted yesterday MEHRD Permanent Secretary (PS), Dr. Franco Rodie, in response to the report labeled it as ‘rubbish.’
“The information obtained is ‘rubbish’ meaning it has no elements of truth.
“SIG/MEHRD repatriation flights being arranged is for Solomon Islands nationals or students irrespective of their sponsorship status,” stated PS Rodie.
Sunday Isles Online reported that President of the SI Philippines Students Association (SIPSA) Aurthur Mola in a statement said he was informed by the government that because the repatriation flights are commercial services operated by the national flag carrier Solomon Airlines privately funded students will pay for their own airfares.
“…SIG inform me that our self-sponsored students will pay for their own airfares/tickets as they said all three repatriation flights are commercial flights,” he said.
The news did not go down well with many self-sponsored students who expressed disappointment.
“This is life and death situation and the virus does not discriminate against whether you are government-sponsored or self-sponsored.
“We are Solomon Islands citizens trapped in one of the worst-hit COVID-19 countries and need to go home.
“This is a disaster so you cannot leave us to fend for our lives,” one self-sponsored student reacted through social media.
Soon after the news was posted online many social media commentators quickly slammed the government over the news.
PS Rodie yesterday advised the students and public never to listen or believe everything or anything they hear or read about.
“And do not twist any news that is considered to be fake,” he said.
Its understood government is on track to bring back close to 400 students studying in the Philippines between September and October.
More than 30 students are privately funded.
Most of the students are being recalled in light of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.
By ESTHER NURIA