EDUCATION Minister Anthony Garcia reported there are 102 national scholars experiencing difficulty with funding. He was responding to an urgent question in Parliament yesterday from Chaguanas East MP Fazal Karim, who asked why scholarship awardees had not been paid, resulting in their suspension and being prevented from attending classes and writing examinations, which may jeopardise their graduation.
Garcia responded that not all students were affected and of the 583 scholars abroad there were difficulties with 102. He said some of the problems identified were outstanding status letters, transcripts and invoices from the scholars themselves or from missions; and scholars for academic year 2017 to 2018 whose contracts have not been signed to date.
Garcia said from March 14, 2018 sufficient funds have been released to cover the majority of the outstanding payments. Karim asked when all of the indebtedness would be paid and added that some students had been asked to discontinue classes.
Garcia said he was not aware of any student being asked to vacate their premises or school, and reiterated that with invoices sent and releases obtained there is a possibility and opportunity for all students to be paid.
Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh asked if it was acceptable for the Government and the Education Ministry to put scholarship winners through this turmoil. Garcia responded: “Whether it is acceptable or not, I can only deal with the bare facts. As everyone knows, this country is having some challenges with respect to our finances. And again, I have been assured by our minister of finance that everything possible is being done to prevent our scholars from suffering undue hardships.”