Monday, November 18, 2013

Students in Taiwan are victims of Jammeh's greed

Sources in Banjul said that the Taiwanese Minister of Education, Chiang Wei-ling has informed the Gambian authorities that the 276 Gambian students in Taiwan have gained temporary reprieve until the end of the current term which ends in January 2014 when all of them must return home.

These students are the innocent victims of a corrupt regime that made no attempt to protect them from becoming collateral damage resulting from the fall out of the dictator's decision.  The trauma that these students are going through at the moment could have been avoided by a competent and caring government by simply taking preemptive measures.  The students learned about their dilemma the same time as the rest of the world except Yaya Jammeh and a couple of his advisers.

Of the 276 students currently studying in Taiwan, 175 of them are on Taiwanese government scholarship which is part of the development aid of the government of Taiwan to The Gambia.  The other 101 students are considered to be on private scholarship which, in the opaque language of Yaya Jammeh, means that they are being financed directly from the dictator's picket which, for all intents and purposes, is an extension of the national treasury. Therefore in the eyes of Gambians, the entire 276 are being financed by Taiwan from proceeds of the financial aid package provided to the Gambia in the name of the entire Gambian population.

Criticism has been leveled against the scholarship selection process, including how representative is the group currently in Taiwan, but that is less important now given the problems they face.  We must focus all attention on trying to relief the students' distress brought about by a corrupt government that places higher premium on the personal welfare of one individual than a group of 276 Gambian students in Taiwan.

The temporary reprieve given to the students by the government of Taiwan on humanitarian grounds is welcomed.  It allows students to complete the current term.  Under the reprieve, even the students in the senior class would not have fulfilled their degree requirements and must go home without being graduated. This batch of students, we hope, will be allowed to complete the full academic year to allow them to receive their degrees.

We would like to appeal to the Taiwanese authorities on behalf of the students for the extension of its reprieve on humanitarian grounds to allow all the current Gambian student population to stay and complete their respective course work to graduation, provided they meet the required academic standards.  To maintain the scholarship program will go a long way in alleviating the trauma that these students are going through. for being abandoned by their government.  The government of Taiwan, we hope, will make every effort to shield the students and well as the Gambian people from any negative consequences of the actions of Yaya Jammeh.  

A responsible government that puts the welfare of its citizenry ahead of the desires of its leaders would have taken measures to minimize the trauma that these students are likely to experience for years to come even if they are allowed to stay.  Instead, the Jammeh regime decided to abandon 276 of them in Taiwan while the dictator and his cronies pursue their individual interests elsewhere.  The youth, especially students, are the staunchest supporters of the Jammeh regime, and yet they have often been the victims of the dictatorship.