The Leader of Independent Group Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua has raised very grave concerns over the issue of increased numbers of students under the Members of Parliament (MPs) Tertiary Scholarship Awards for 2016.
Hon. Dr. Sikua said that he was informed by the MEHRD on 29th January 2016 that the allocation for each MP which has been approved by Cabinet in 2015 remained at 4 students per MP, as was the case in previous years.
However, what transpired through a document received by his office was that some Senior Ministers and Backbenchers in the DCC Government have submitted lists that far exceeded the limit approved by Cabinet.
“For instance, one senior Minister has submitted a list consisting of 20 students from his constituency.
“One of the shocking revelations also was that some students did not even meet the minimum required Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.5 to qualify for a government scholarship award, with some students attaining a GPA as low as 2.1.”
He said, SIG Scholarships Awards are supposed to be given on the basis of merit and outstanding academic performance.
“It is further disturbing to see that most MPs submitted many names of students with GPA’s of ranging from 2.28 to 2.42 on their lists.
“These aggregate marks definitely fall well below the minimum standard required for admission into full time studies at the University of the South Pacific.
“In addition, most students listed in the document obtained did not even mention students GPA’s for reasons only to applicants or MPs concerned.
“Against this background, the main issue of concern here is to do with those many students who have been left out of SIG funded scholarship despite having a high GPA of 3.0 and above.”
He said, many affected students and their parents are very frustrated and depressed by this loss of such great educational opportunity just because of some Leaders have decided to be greedy, self-serving and being selfish.
Hon. Dr. Sikua said that eligible students who have proven to be academically capable should not be robbed of their scholarship spaces and awards. Hence, priority should be given to them right from the beginning.
“What has transpired here is that leaders must stop using the system and their power to deprive other Solomon Islanders the opportunity they rightly deserve.
“The PM, DPM and some of their Senior Ministers and Backbenchers may walk away being content that they have secured many scholarship awards for their constituents but at the expense of other Solomon Islanders.
“This is definitely an indication that something is not right, a case of not what you know but who you know! In other words, these leaders have defied a Cabinet Decision they themselves have made so what is the use of Cabinet making such a decision in the first place? This is a classic case of saying one thing and doing exactly the opposite!
“As such I call on the Ministry of Education, and in particular the National Training Unit to publicize the number of 2016 scholarship awards allocated to each MP. This issue has victimized and may perhaps adversely affect the future of many eligible students.”
Finally, Mr. Sikua wishes to thank the 16 or so MPs who have remained within their allocation of 4 nominees as approved by Cabinet.
He said that since the Cabinet decision is clear on this matter, MPs ought to adhere to what is stipulated within that provision. Otherwise, we will end up with the biggest blow-out in the MEHRD’s Scholarship Budget in 2016.