Some Ghanaian students in Russia have threatened to demonstrate to express their displeasure about the delay in the payment of their scholarship allowances for some months now.
According to the students their decision follows a petition served to Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur when he attended the Saint Petersburg International Forum in June which has not received a favourable response.
The National Union of Ghanaian Students in Russia, NUGS-RUSSIA is therefore calling on the government to desist from delays in payment of scholarship allowances in order to fast track the achievement of academic goals.
Russia and Ghana have a strong relationship in education as every year some students from Ghana travel to Russia to further their studies especially in the areas of medicine, engineering and other science fields.
Whereas some students study on either one or both governments scholarships, others study from their own coffers. On one hand, each student on the Russian government scholarship gets 25 dollars at the end of every month.
On the other hand, Ghana government sponsored students benefit 300 dollars every month, but is paid every other three months. They also in the beginning of every academic year should receive one thousand four hundred and sixty dollars ($1,460) for books, health insurance, hostel and others.
That notwithstanding, there was a delay in release of funds on the part of Ghana government last year which affected academics work according to the vice president of NUGS – RUSSIA Saint Petersburg wing, Daniel Kwabena Oppong.
He explained that beneficiaries lived on empty coffers from April 2015 to August 2015. Instead of October 2015, their academic year fund was also delayed until February this year. Moreover, the first quarter of 2016 did not see any release of funds.
“A new academic year is fast approaching, so we are calling on Vice President Amissah Arthur to look at the petitions we made to him..” Daniel said.
The union says petitions made to the Veep also included renewal of passports in Russia instead of traveling back home at a cost of over one thousand US dollars
Daniel however admitted in an interview with TV3’s Spencer Kwabena Boateng Mensah in Russia that “our government does not owe us now, but we are pleading that they desist from the delays because sometimes students have to study on empty stomachs…”
He expressed appreciation to the Ghana Community – Saint Petersburg saying, “things are not easy here when it (allowance) delays but the Ghana Community and the private students do not let us down.”
But some students are hopeful that embarking on a strike action is a worthy course to consider to drive home their demands.
“Last year they (Ghana Embassy in Russia) had money from nowhere to pay us after we threatened to strike but earlier they complained of lack of funds….we know our leaders understand demonstration than anything so if nothing is done that will be an option…if it (allowance) is in the budget why can’t it be paid before a new budget is drawn?….I think it is either our monies go elsewhere or it is mismanagement of funds.”
The students are not happy due to delays is release of funds that keep them up on a foreign land.
By Spencer Kwabena Boateng Mensah|TV3|Ghana