SLPP Trivializes Future Of Limkokwing Students
The Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) led Government is seen to be trivializing the future of over 1,000 Sierra Leonean youths as Government sponsored students at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology continue to languish.
Only students who are sponsored privately are currently attending lectures.
The continued delay in the payment of their tuition fees, which they say has prevented them from attending lectures, almost six months since they commenced, resulted to their staging a peaceful protest led by Thomas Moore Conteh, a Civil Society Activist, yesterday, Thursday, March 5th, 2020 in accordance with the Sierra Leone Constitution.
However, despite the fact the Police had been adequately informed about yesterday’s peaceful procession for which an agreement was reached between the organizers and the police as evident in a video making rounds on social media, the same police who are believed to be acting on alleged orders from above, turned around and brutalized, arrested and manhandled the harmless students, the Civil Society Activist, Thomas Moore Conteh and scores of journalists who were there to cover the protest.
The police action on the harmless students, the activist and journalists have been described by many as a clear indication of how the SLPP led government disregard the very education which it claims to lay premium on.
While the government said it had reached an understanding with the university administration that could have seen all the students attend lectures, the students say they were not even allowed to register for courses.
This has sadly been the situation of the affected students for the last six months as no one knows who is saying the truth. Even more disturbing is the fact that despite the unprofessional conduct of the police have been wildly condemned, few sycophants of the ruling SLPP have taken to social media to defend what is highly regarded as the indefensible.
This stand-off between the government and Limkokwing started since last year, following rumours that the Bio administration did not intend to honor the agreement between the previous government and the university for reasons many have described as political. The issue led to delay in the reopening of the university last October.
In January, the affected students staged a peaceful protest at the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education in an effort to draw government’s attention to their plight.
The Ministry recently made an assurance to the students and the university management that it was committed to paying the fees. Representatives of the ministry were even cited in reports saying that they had reached an agreement with the university administration for the students to register and continue their course.
Gilbert Cooper, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, also confirmed this to Politico this week.
Speaking about the stalemate with the university, Cooper said the government inherited a backlog of payment amounting to Le25 billion, and that after a negotiation that amount was reduced to Le23 billion.
The government, according to Cooper, has already paid Le22billion of that amount. He said they have already had a payment plan for the remaining Le1 billion.
Cooper also said that they have been engaging the university on the issue.
‘’The bone of contention is [that] they said we have not paid, so as an institution they have not even allowed students to register, let alone start classes, which I consider to be a ransom,” he stated.
An official of the university who spoke to the journalists on condition of anonymity confirmed that they were in “constant engagement” with the government.
“Things will be fixed. This is progress. As always we encourage them (students) to exercise patience, as negotiation will be finalized shortly,” they said.
The privately managed university, which has its headquarters in Malaysia, charges US$3,500 for tuition for a degree programme and US$2,500 for diploma courses.
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