Angry parents demand answer as hundreds stand to miss out on scholarships this year

HUNDREDS of students who have successfully completed their foundation or preliminary year studies last year are likely to miss out on further studies in 2017 because the government could not afford it.

Of an estimated 600 7th-formers who completed their studies this year, only 91 were picked for government scholarships this year.

The final number could dwindle even further, given politicians normally decide who goes and who does not.

Some suggest that only 60 students would end up going for further studies under government scholarships in 2017.

The situation drew an angry response from some parents who are demanding answers from the Government.

“We want to know why our children were excluded from the final scholarship list published in newspapers this week, particularly those who have been issued with admission letters.

“Our children have received admission letters from the National Training Unit (NTU), a letter which guarantees government sponsorships,” one of the parents, Robert Fiua’lakwa, said yesterday.

Mr Fiualakwa said he was surprised only 91 students were picked.

“That’s out of 600 students who have completed their foundation or preliminary year last year. They are ready to pursue their chosen fields of studies from this year,” an angry Mr Fiualakwa said.

He produced a copy of his daughter’s admission letter, which he said was based on the student’s academic performance measured in GPA.

The government has set 3.00 and above as the minimum GPA score to qualify for a government scholarship.

“All our children scored well over and above the minimum requirement set by the government,” Mr Fiualakwa said.

He said it would appear the government has awarded the scholarships to people who are already working to upgrade their academic standing.

“This upgrading is not confined to the public sector. Members of the private sector have also been awarded government scholarships, denying the young people who completed seventh form last year,” Mr Fiua’lakwa said.

Other factors appear to have weighed in.

Shortage of university placements has been exacerbated by a number of other factors, including a 58 percent fall in donor funding this year, along with Goroka University in Papua New Guinea closing its doors on both continuing and new students due to non-payments of tuition and other costs over the last three years.

In a resolution passed by the University Council recently, it said no students, continuing and new students alike from Solomon Islands would be admitted until the monies owed the University by the Solomon Islands Government are paid in full.

Limitation on degree programmes offered by the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) is also a factor.

SINU presently offers degree courses in two disciplines only – education and health.

One other factor which might have contributed to the funding shortage is the fact that in the 2017 budget, Parliament had approved a $15 million constituency scholarship fund.

Under the fund, each Constituency is entitled to $300,000 in 2017 through their MPs.