Thursday, August 29, 2013

Medical students may not return to Cuba

Medical students may not return to Cuba
THURSDAY, 29 AUGUST 2013 04:27

GOVERNMENT funded students studying medicine in Cuba are threatening to
remain back in the country if their traveling allowances are not paid on

Speaking to the Solomon Star to express their frustrations, a group of
students who visited our Chinatown office Tuesday evening, said the
non-payment of their allowances on time resulted in some of the students
unable to board their flight early this week.

"We have exhausted all avenues to finding the answer to our dilemma
since last week," they said.

Their last visit on Tuesday was to the Permanent Secretary of the
Ministry of Education Dr Fred Isom Rohorua, who the students said
offered no solution to their case.

"From the meeting with the National Training Unit (NTU) and the
permanent secretary, it was obvious the government is in deep financial
problem," the medical students said.

According to them, each student is entitled to USD$1750.00 (SBD$12,350)
to be paid by the government before they can travel to Cuba.

They said they need the money to help with their transits on their way
to Cuba and upon arrival at Cuba airport to the university.

Most of them have returned airline tickets paid for by the government.

The students, who are in their third and fourth year of studies, said
they were supposed to return to Cuba this week in time for the start of
their second semester 1st September.

About 20 students arrived in the country on July 26 for their holiday
break and that the government was responsible for meeting their
allowances on their return.

Most of them had spent three to four years before returning to spend a
few weeks with families and relatives.

They said given this problem, it made it harder for them to get ready
for their trip and to arrive on time for the start of the second semester.

"Failure to arrive on time and missing out on registration for some of
the courses will impact a lot on our studies," the students expressed.

The first lot of students were supposed to leave early this week.
However, only three students managed to fly off through the help of
their families who have supported them with some money.

The next lot of students are expected to leave this coming Saturday, but
with the uncertainty of allowance payments, the students said their
flight is in doubt.

The students have appealed to Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo to
intervene and help address their plight.

Officials from the ministry of education could not be reached for comments.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Shadrach Fanega when
contacted said he was not aware of the situation and declined to comment

He however, admitted the ministry of education is facing a lot of
pressure with the issue of scholarships and payment of allowances –
something the government was trying to address.

Mr Fanega encouraged the students to visit the ministry and discuss with
them their situation in order to find solutions to their predicament.

Currently about 90 local students are studying medicine in Cuba with the
first lot expected to graduate at the end of this year.

Under the deal the Cuban government was responsible for the students'
tuition, accommodation and food while the national government was
responsible for airfares and allowances.

The situation had prompted the students to warn young students to be
mindful about plans to study in Cuba because such a problem was not a
new thing.

Apart from the Cuba-based students, government funded students at
Solomon Islands National University (SINU) and the University of the
South Pacific both here and in Fiji are also awaiting their allowances.

By Moffat Mamu

Source: "Medical students may not return to Cuba" -

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