About two hundred (200) struggling students attending the Phebe Para Medical Training Program in Suakoko Bong County are seeking the intervention of the Government of Liberia if they must complete their studies at the Institution.
The Students speaking to newsmen recently said they are finding it difficult to continue their studies due to the lack of finances and food to keep them up while they are on the Institution’s dormitories.
The Students some of whom entered the Phebe Para Medical Training Program in 2016 said for the past four semesters they have been getting the full support of the Government of Liberia and partners but unfortunately for them, the supports have been canceled due to the economic crisis the World is faced with.
The Student Council President of the Institution; Mulbah B. Vesselle said they’ve been on the Campus since 2016 and have been fed by the Government of Liberia and other Partners from overseas but they later got informed that the support was being cut off and as such, they were requested by the Administration to pay feeding fees.
He disclosed that prior to their return from break on August 12, 2018, they received a phone call from the Administration on August 10, 2018 urging them to go on Campus prepared, on grounds that they are going to pay feeding fees in the tone of US$225 plus the regular US$30 they were paying when they were being fed, amounting to US$255 (old students) per semester while the new students will pay US$225 and US$100 also amounting to US$325 per semester as well.
Student Vesselle averred that when they got the information, they became to assess themselves as to whether they could afford to underwrite the cost of the feeding.
“And to be frank with you this Institution is very tedious to the extent that you cannot be here in this Institution and do any other things for yourself as compare to other colleges because in other places you plan courses and you go to school the time you plan to go” he explained.
According to him, at Phebe Para Medical Training Program sometimes they go to school from 7:0’clock a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday unless Saturday and Sunday but said even at that other Instructors call them for extra lessons on Sunday and Saturday and it has been so much tedious for them to be on campus and galvanize resources for themselves.
Mulbah B. Vesselle added that when they were informed about the feeding fees payment the student body found it very difficult that they cannot afford the amounts charged in the time range to be able to feed themselves on campus.
He narrated that they the student body thoughts it wise to see how best they can remain in the Institution and become graduates as they were called to enroll into the Institution adding that they took the passion to acquire knowledge and go back to where they came from and other parts of Liberia to be able to help the Liberian people in the health system.
Mr. Vesselle expressed that they then asked themselves if they can stay out of school because of US$255 and other people said they should brace the storm even if they can eat Gari they will eat it just to have themselves graduated.
He said thereafter they agreed that old students pay US$30 each and new students pay US$100 each just to keep them on Campus after they wrote the Administration to allow all the students feed themselves, stating that before that they wrote the Lawmakers of Bong County and other parts of Liberia but they have had no redress
Mr. Vesselle expressed that some of them are living on the dormitory on L$100 a day something he said it is difficult to be hungry and comprehend. He narrated that some of them eat Gari, roasted Cassava while two persons sometimes joint just to eat L$100 cook bowl a day with others swallowing L$30 Fufu during the day and eat peanut during the night just to remain in school.
Also speaking, Student Jessica Fofana said when they enrolled in the Institution in 2016 things were normal for them because they were getting the full support of the Government especially the feeding aspect but since the beginning of 2018 they have not been getting any support from the Government due to the economic crisis in the Country thus making it difficult for them.
Jessica intoned that for a student to remain in the Institution; he/she has to obtain the grade point of 75 and above adding that if even one scores 74.9% he/she can be dropped from the Institution.
She narrated that they wrote the authorities of Bong County where the Institution is situated and went to their offices, but not a single person came to their aid stating,
‘It was not easy and it has not been easy for us’.
Gibson Flomo studying professional nursing at the Institution disclosed that being on a dormitory and self-supported students, they cannot afford the amount charged by the Administration due to the economic crisis but they can lobby around parents and other family members to be able to generate the US$30 previously charged.
“It’s greatly challenging, can you imagine a dormitory student; a student basing on the dorm who just leave for a two week break you tell them to come to pay two hundred and fifty-five dollars where some of us are self-supported students, if you telling us to pay such an amount in short possible time it is a great challenge for us” he lamented.
Gibson said if this continues, not even ten students will graduate from the Institution because they cannot live on the dormitory and say they are going to find food for themselves.
The students made the disclosure on Monday when the office of Senator Oscar A. Cooper of Margibi County presented to 12 bags of 25kg rice with L$20,000 Liberian dollars to over twenty students from Margibi County at the Institution’s main Campus in Suakoko Bong County.
The Student at the same time hailed the Senator for the gesture adding that this will serve as motivation for them.
According to them, this is the first time that a Lawmaker or Government Official has come to their aid since the beginning of this unfortunate situation that they cannot overcome without the help of others.
The Students promised to perform excellently during their studies but called on the Government of Liberia, other Partners and well-meaning Liberians to come to their aid.
Presenting the rice to the Students earlier, the Administrator in the office of Senator Cooper Mr. Nyumah said the gesture is the Senator own way of identifying with the students to enable them have a smooth stay at the Institution.
He pointed out that the educational need of the young people of Margibi and Liberia is the first priority on the agenda of Senator Cooper, as such he saw it fit to address the urgent need of the students.
Mr. Nyumah disclosed that earlier on the office of the Senator gave the students twenty thousand Liberian dollars (L$20,000). He assured the students that the Senator remains committed to helping the students once they continue to perform well in their studies.