Unpaid grants hardship for students in China, Morocco

The predicament of Madagascan students studying in China is worsening because of their government’s continuing failure to pay grants. The students fear that they will be unable to renew visas and re-enrol if their debts remain unsettled. Students in Morocco are also having problems because of unpaid state grants.

In China students are owed 36 months of unpaid grants and have launched a new appeal for help, reported Midi Madagasikara.

The association of Madagascan students in Shanghai called a meeting to discuss the problem which, reported Midi Madagasikara, was becoming increasingly serious.

Suffering in Shanghai

Their chief concerns were study visas which were to expire at the end of the month: “However, no renewal of visas or enrolments is possible for the next university year which is due to start in September 2015 if the education and housing arrears are not paid off,” Midi Madagasikara reported the students as saying.

They claimed that in four years of studies in China they had received only 11 months of grant payments from the Madagascan state, the last one dated 1 September 2014. “That makes a total of 36 months of unpaid grants,” they said.

The students said shame was part of their daily lives, with every day an existence of destitution. “And we cannot deny that our results are considerably worse than previous years. So because of all our problems, the image of Madagascar risks being damaged.”

They drew attention to two cases of students who had recently been hospitalised. One was a woman who had been operated on in July for a cyst on her breast after following an inadequate diet, according to doctors; the other was a man who had suffered a stroke.

“Seeing as we can’t even eat three times a day, we have trouble taking care of our health,” Midi Madagasikara reported the students as saying.

It added that it was not the first time the students had alerted the Madagascan authorities, but officials did not seem to take their concerns seriously.

Students in Morocco

Meanwhile, Midi Madagasikara reported that Madagascans studying in Morocco were also suffering because grants from the Madagascan state were unpaid.

On paper, the students received joint grants from Morocco and Madagascar. But the sparse amount of money they received only just covered the rent, reported Midi Madagasikara. In spite of mutual aid between the students, they often lacked food for up to a week at a time.

Complaints to the authorities went unanswered.

Midi Madagasikara pointed out that under a government order of March 2012 grants were fixed at €650 (US$727) a month for Madagascan students abroad in France, Canada, the United States, China, Mauritius, Morocco and Algeria – a promise that had not been kept.

Some students had decided to return to Madagascar rather than suffer far from home, reported the paper.

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.