President of the Vanua’aku Party (VP), Bob Loughman, said this year’s scholarships offered by the Vanuatu-government have been handled unprofessionally.
Mr Loughman said in a statement: “As president of VP, I am concerned in the government’s failure to properly manage scholarship affairs.
“VP is asking the government to stop the partial scholarship scheme with the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) and use it as an option for people employed and can afford to repay the loan after studies.”
President Loughman said VP has learnt and is deeply concerned that a lot of year 13 and 14 students who scored exceptionally well have not been awarded scholarships.
“The government should make a special provision to send all the eligible year 13 and 14 students and others on scholarships,” he said.
“VP wish to remind the government of article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which reads: Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
“The National Human Resource Development Plan was launched last year with the intention to address the priority of the government through fair scholarship allocation and distributions.
“I want to inform the people that VP will continue to push for the government to increase the scholarship budget to Vt1 billion from 2021 onward because human resource is the key to development.”
Mr Loughman stressed that many policies being implemented by the ministry are politicized and does not serve public interest.
He said the government must consider awarding scholarships promptly so that students can progress studies without interruption.
In his response, the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), Bergmans Iati, said the ministry welcomes the statement however, Mr Loughman should have acted professionally by approaching them directly to stress his concerns.
“Saying that the ministry’s policies are politicized is false,” he said.
“The education system has now significantly improved compared to the past years. We have achieved so much, which we will detail at a later time.
“Concerning the partial scholarship, it is not compulsory but at least it is an avenue to support further training.
“The government has been investing over Vt700 million into institutions abroad for scholarships every year. At the moment, we are trying to divert money back into the country.
“Selection of the eligible scholarship candidates was based on criteria thus, there is no unfairness.”