Hi Editor Pa Nderry,
Thank you for your job well done. I for one have been enjoying your programs and analysis of the Gambian political system for many years. At the beginning, people criticized you a lot but at the end of the day, everyone commended you for exposing the dictator Yaya Jammeh. Now that you are advising the Gambians on President Barrow’s government poor management of the public fund. Yet his cyber warriors are out to challenge your analysis. But we the intellectual Gambians know what it takes to be conscious and concern of the happenings in a democratic system. Thank you once again for a job well done.
However, my concern is with regards to the Gambian students in Morocco. The way and manner Gambian students are suffering in Morocco cannot be overemphasized. These are vulnerable students under the age 25 yrs. The students are struggling so hard to pay their rent at private properties arranged by the Moroccan Government. They have cheap rent upon arrival at the university campus where they were a lodged for a couple of months before taken to the various universities depending on the program of studies.
According to a reliable source within, the students’ stipend from the Gambia this year comes in bits and pieces, which part of it is yet to be paid to them. Some of them are suffering because the money Moroccan government is giving them bi-monthly is not enough to pay rent, buy their books, pay for photocopies and survival. Some are supported by families in the Europe and other parts of the world. But the majority of them are hardworking students from a poor family background, whose parents cannot provide a day’s meal for their families. These students were optimistic when shortlisted for the said scholarship by the Ministry of Higher Education Research Science and Technology, thinking that they will be able to make an impact by supporting their families, while studying away from home likewise manage life in Morocco like any other Gambian student studying abroad. But this is not the case with them.
The amount usually receive by Gambian students in Morocco is far less than what other students studying abroad receive per month. For example, when studying in any other country in Africa, America or UK, the student will receive 850 dollars or 850 pounds respectively per month. If the student is given a stipend that is not enough to sustain their upkeep, 650 dollars is given to those students per month by the government as additional stipend and the Ministry of higher is fully aware of this. A typical example is the current cohort of the student doing their Masters for two years in Nigeria through the Higher Education coordinated scholarship of the World Bank just like the Moroccan one. But in the case of the students in Morocco, this not happening instead they receive support from Gambia government annually which is not even disbursed to them directly rather through the Gambian Embassy. Moreover, it is not bad for the embassy of the Gambia in Morocco to disburse the funds to respective students but the way in which this money is accessible to the students is the big question. The Embassy in Morocco is virtually doing nothing the whole day.
Therefore, taking the students stipend to their various universities like what the other countries are doing for their students should not be a problem and a burden for them. Hence, they have decided to make the payment of stipend to the students in cluster pay points which they (students) have to travel far and wide within Morocco to receive their stipend at the identified pay point. Based on financial constraints, the students suggested that instead of all the students in one university travelling to the pay point for their stipend, they contribute moneys for transport fare and give to one student to receive the stipend on their behalf or instead the embassy come to their universities and make the payment of their stipend. But this arrangement was kicked against by the Embassy. As a result, students had to travel to receive 400 Diraham as part payment of their stipend and end of paying 70 to 100 Dirham for transportation which is not cost effective on the student.
Consequently, Pa Gambia is the only country which the Moroccan Government is giving the least stipend compared to other countries such as Senegal, Ivory Coast, Zambia and so on. Our children are suffering but cannot come back home because they want to maintain the Gambian flag high. Currently, among the students who went in January, one has some mental ill health and this has been communicated to the Ministry of Higher Education so that they can communicate with Moroccan authorities to support and cure the student and allow him to continue his studies. But the Ministry is not making any progress instead they are busy to fend money through per diems and so forth. Sometime this year, the Ministry of Higher Education sent an officer to go see what was happening on the ground but instead the person was busy with other things and meet with only few students while the majority suffering was not heard. So, Pa I would suggest that you may mount an investigation in the matter of students in Morocco, India, and other parts of the world who had benefited from scholarship packages coordinated by higher education.
These students need your urgent intervention and support by circulating the information so that President Barrow and his government will know that these students are suffering and need their urgent intervention for their stipend to be augmented. Therefore, Pa I am counting on usually support for the crying and vulnerable Gambians in need of consideration.
Thanks once again Editor M’Bai. May Allah continue to guide and protect you at all times.
Written By A Concerned Gambian